Rationale: The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the concept of "never again" and the international commitment to prevent genocide following World War II. Students listen to and discuss a contemporary song by a Jewish hip-hop artist in order to explore the ideal of "never again" as a response to the Holocaust and the meaning that this ideal holds for Jewish people and the broader world community. Students brainstorm steps that have been taken since World War II as well as things that they can do today to prevent another genocide. The lesson concludes by asking students to reflect on whether or not the ideal of "never again" has been achieved, and if they think that mass slaughter or the extermination of a group of people has occurred since the Holocaust.
- Students will explore the concept of "never again" as a response to the Holocaust.
- Students will use contemporary music as a vehicle for learning about the Holocaust and steps taken by the international community to prevent genocide since World War II.
- Students will reflect on actions that they can take as individuals to prevent future genocides .
National Standards (.pdf format -35 KB - requires Acrobat Reader)
Age Range: Grades 10-12
(Click on the link above for a master pdf file with all of the handouts or click on any individual title below for an html version of that single handout.)
Other Materials: Never Again audio (optional), background information on the Holocaust (optional), chart paper, markers
Time: 45 minutes or 1 class period
Techniques and Skills: analyzing music, brainstorming, connecting past to present, historical understanding, large and small group discussion, reading skills
Key Words: annihilation, anti-Semitism, Auschwitz, bear witness, ghetto, heritage, Holocaust, identity, liquidation, mass extermination, Nazi, oppressed
- Though the rap song referenced in this lesson contains no profanity, it does include graphic references to the Holocaust. Make sure that it is appropriate for the developmental level of your students before introducing it in the classroom.
- This lesson requires prerequisite understanding of the Holocaust. If your students require background information, you may want to consult the links to ADL Resources on the Holocaust above. Additional sources include Introduction to the Holocaust from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and The Holocaust: Definition and Preliminary Discussion from Yad Vashem.
Part I (15 minutes)
1. Post or distribute the lyrics to the song, Never Again, by Jewish hip-hop artist, Remedy. If possible, play the song for students. Discuss some of the following questions:
- What historical event is the subject of this song?
- What is the Holocaust?
- What happened to Jewish people in Europe during the Holocaust?
- What other groups of people were impacted by the Holocaust?
(Note: The Holocaust can be defined as the systematic and state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators).
2. Make sure to answer students' questions about the song and clarify references that may be unfamiliar to them, including the following lines:
- 6 million died for what?
- Moving targets who walk with the star in their sleeve/Forever marked with a number, tattooed to your body
- I can't express the pain/That was felt on the train/To Auschwitz
- Mass extermination/Total annihilation/Shipped into the ghetto and prepared for liquidation
- Flashbacks of family then sent to the showers
Part II (10 minutes)
3. Ask students to think about the song's title and the refrain ("Never again shall we march like sheep to the slaughter…") and pose the following questions:
- Why do you think Remedy titled the song Never Again?
- Have you ever heard this term used in reference to the Holocaust?
- What do you think it signifies for Jewish people? All people?
- How did it happen that 6 million Jews perished in the Holocaust before the world intervened to stop it?
Make sure students understand that following the Holocaust the Jewish people and much of the world community vowed to take action so that such atrocities might never again be waged against any group of people.
Part III (20 minutes)
4. Distribute the handout, Remedy: Giving Never Again a Hip-Hop Vibe, which provides biographical information about the artist and discusses the way in which he has expressed his Jewish identity through his music. Divide students into pairs or small groups. Instruct students to spend about 10 minutes reading the handout and discussing ways in which Remedy has used his music to further the ideal of never again.
5. Reconvene the whole class and allow students to share some of their thoughts regarding the reading. Ask students for examples of actions that other people (or groups, governments, etc.) have taken since World War II to ensure that another Holocaust never takes place. List their responses on a sheet of chart paper. (Examples might include education, commemoration, documentation, legislation, lobbying, protests, tribunals, military intervention, economic sanctions, monitoring, mediation, peacekeeping, media awareness, etc.)
6. Ask students if there are things that they can personally do to make never again a reality, and record these responses as well. (Examples might include reading/educating oneself, educating others, speaking out against small and large acts of prejudice and hatred, getting involved in community/political activism, writing letters to politicians and other authorities, etc.)
7. Conclude the lesson by telling students that throughout this unit they will be learning about some important ways that the world has said never again to another Holocaust as well as some of the events that have frustrated the realization of this ideal. For the next class, ask students whether they believe that the ideal of never again has been achieved, and if they think that mass slaughter or the extermination of a group of people has occurred since the Holocaust. (Don't discuss this question yet, just ask students to reflect on it).