Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism During the Holocaust

Explore teaching activities to be used with Forging Freedom: A True Story of Heroism During the Holocaust, by Hudson Talbott.
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Social Studies

How did Hitler come to power, and why did he pick on the Jews? Consider these observations:

  • On page 6 of Forging Freedom, Jaap's neighbor says the Germans are angry "because they lost the big war and their money is worthless" and "they need someone to blame."
  • The German people were shocked to lose World War I. Their economy was ruined and their money lost its value. They wanted a strong leader to lead them out of the mess.
  • Hitler blamed the Jews because they were an easy target; there was a long history of anti-Semitism in Germany.
  • The world was a bystander. Other countries did nothing as Hitler became more powerful, seeing him as "someone else's problem" until it was too late.

The illustration on pages 18-19 shows Hitler as a barbed-wire octopus clutching Europe. He spurred the Germans to invade their neighbors to the east, saying they needed and deserved "lebensraum"—more living space. They invaded their neighbors to the west because they needed an Atlantic seaport. Refer to a map and discuss how geography played a major role in World War II.

The English Channel and the North Sea formed a natural barrier, keeping the German forces contained on the continent, but also keeping the Allied forces (Britain and the U.S.) out. Discuss the D-day invasion: why was it so important—but also so difficult—due to geography?

The maps on page 34 show the route of the Jewish refugees Jaap rescued from the Nazis. Discuss the similarities with and differences from the Underground Railroad system that helped African-Americans escape slavery in the American South prior to the Civil War.

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