Teaching an Under the Radar Topic

It’s always interesting to hear what is and is not taught in various high school history classrooms around the country.  One teacher might spend 3 weeks on Civil Rights, another only 1 week.  One might discuss the Cambodian Genocide and another might not.  I know it is a challenge to fit in all the required topics each year and to go into each topic in depth enough to do it justice, so finding time to discuss under the radar topics might be impossible, but with it being standardized testing season, keeping kids busy with these types of topics after they finish their tests might be a good way to start incorporating this type of material.

teaching some under the radar topics, like Nazi Germany's Lebensborn program

World War 2, the Holocaust, and related people and events from the 1930-1945 time period have always been my passion.  Since 3rd or 4th grade I have read about children in hiding, Auschwitz, a Jewish soldier in Hitler’s ranks, the bombing of Dresden, medical experiments on twins at Auschwitz, the Monuments Men, and so much more (probably close to a thousand books just on people/places/events/topics from 1930-1945).  The Nazi program of Lebensborn is a topic that I always spend a day teaching my students about though I have yet to see any of my colleagues mention it in their classes.

This was a program designed to increase the “pure Aryan” population by having genetically ideal Aryan men and women who were pro-Nazi/Pro-Hitler procreate (regardless of their marital status) and have what would hopefully be genetically ideal Aryan babies.  Children who had the ideal physical characteristics Hitler wanted were even taken from their families as Nazis spread across Europe, they were brought back to Germany to “good” Nazi families, and attempts to “Germanize” them began.  If the kids couldn’t be “Germanized” they were taken to extermination camps and suffered the same fate as Jews.

A couple of years ago, I printed out an article on Lebensborn for my students to read, analyze, and reflect on when they finished their state standardized test of the day.  I knew virtually all of my students would be learning about this for the first time, but it didn’t occur to me that it was new information to many of my colleagues as well.  I was incredibly flattered when I was asked to speak about it at our department meeting and to provide each of the other classes of juniors with the same assignment.

teaching some under the radar topics, like Nazi Germany's Lebensborn program

Flash forward a few years and here I am on TpT and I decided to make a more universally teacher friendly version of the assignment.  So just yesterday I made a Lebensborn Webquest and posted it to my store.  Out of curiosity, I did a search for other TpT resources on Lebensborn and the only results I got were my webquest and the 2 bundles it’s part of.  So that was very interesting to me.  It implies that no other teachers have made resources for it because either they don’t teach it themselves, or if they do teach it, they don’t think anyone else would teach it so why take the time and effort to make something that no one will ever use.  So let’s see what happens.  This will either sit untouched in my store forever, or someone will happen to come across it and think the same thing I did a few years ago: that this would be a good under the radar topic for their students to learn about after sitting through a standardized test.

Are there topics you teach that are under the radar?  I’d love to read about it in the comments!

Links for more information on Lebensborn:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/07/world/europe/07nazi.html?_r=1& https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Lebensborn.html

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