Week 1: German Colony of Namibia
George Franklin Cram Map of South Africa, South Africa, 1901
With an understanding of the steps that lead to genocide and the functions of maps, students will then move onto the main objective of the unit, which is to map out genocides of the early twentieth century. The first genocide in the twentieth century students will examine will be Germany’s colonial move not only to gain power within a region, but also to acquire resources on the continent of Africa. It is through this examination of the German motives that we can then consider how their actions within Africa led to genocide within the colony of Namibia against the Herero and Namaqua peoples. Prior to examining the various maps surrounding this particular genocide, students will be first provided a brief historical content lesson of this topic through Casper W. Erichsen’s book The Kaiser's Holocaust: Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism. Although the text may be large, the teacher may use excerpts from the book to read and develop the historical background needed to better understand the topic. One exercise the teacher can choose to do with the students is to choose a specific passage and have the students complete a close reading activity on the specific page. Another activity that the teacher may choose to do with the students is to have them read various texts and create a mind map on what an individual living in Namibia would have thought regarding the events unfolding within their country. Once students have learned about the history of events in Namibia and they can be classified as the first genocide of the twentieth century, the students will then examine various historical maps of the region in order to highlight how the Germans’ need for resources from Namibia created conflict with the Herero tribes who lived within the colony. The specific maps that students will examine for this particular lesson will come from the Yale Genocides Study Program (https://gsp.yale.edu/case-studies/colonial-genocides-project/maps-satellite-images/german-southwest-africa) along with the David Rumsey Map Collection (https://www.davidrumsey.com/), and the Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g8620.ct001172/?r=-0.006,0.491,0.853,0.323,0). Although the maps chosen may not show the physical damage inflicted by the genocide, they will provide visuals that show students how the country has changed overtime.
One activity a teacher may want to complete with students to think about the need for resources is to provide a map that shows the resources within Namibia. The students will then work in groups to analyze the map and think how villages around the resources could pose a problem for the Germans and what they could have done as a result. The visual maps and exercises associated with the lessons will allow students to think about various changes that have taken place within Namibia. Once the students have been given time to analyze the maps and other visual sources, the lesson will conclude with students working in groups to answer the following question: Based on what you learned, examine the maps and think about how the country of Namibia has changed over time. Students will be given time to examine the maps provided to them either by themselves or within small groups. During this exercise students may also independently research their own maps to help answer the question. Once students have been given time to answer the question, they will present their responses to the rest of the class and discuss responses as a class. Following the class discussion, the teacher will then direct students to think about the events in German Namibia and ask the class to think about the questions they generated at the beginning of the unit. Once students have been given time to think about the events that unfolded in Namibia, the class will hold a discussion based on the students’ responses. The teacher may further engage the class discussion by asking students how do maps help us form a better understanding of events such as genocide? The lesson for this section of the unit will conclude with students creating a body map. For this lesson, the students will be provided with a piece of paper that has a blank silhouette of an individual on it. The students will then be asked to map their feeling and thoughts as a result of learning about the events that unfolded throughout this genocide.
Week 2: Armenian Genocide
Map presented at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference by the Armenian delegation
The second week of the unit will then move to the Armenian Genocide. Students will once again be given excerpts from various historical and modern texts such as Michael Bosland’s book Annihilation in order to gain an understanding of the historical content surrounding this particular genocide. The purpose of these texts will be to provide students with enough content in order to think about the topic more critically as the lessons progresses. The primary focus of the lesson will be to provide students with various visuals such as the map presented by the Armenian delegation at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference following the end of World War I. During the map analysis aspect of this lesson, the teacher will have students think about the maps presented to them with a series of teacher generated questions, an example of a question that might be asked of students would be “How can displacement lead to changes on a map?” The teacher will also want to encourage students to generate their own questions throughout this map exercise. For example, one activity would be to have students examine the Armenian Delegations map to the 1919 Peace Conference and generate a list of five questions based on their observations. These questions from their analysis could be used to generate a discussion as a class or within small groups. Throughout the lesson the teacher might want to consider other maps that students could examine during the lesson. Some of the maps that might want to be considered for this lesson include present day maps of Turkey from the Library of Congress (https://www.loc.gov/item/2006625579/) which highlights present day boundaries within Turkey. The teacher may also choose to visit various public websites that highlight the Armenian Genocide and show the displacement of individuals involved.
One of the resources used to highlight the atrocities of the Armenian genocide and the displacement of peoples will be Michael Bosland’s book Annihilation: A Story of the Armenian Genocide. Along with Bosland’s book, another source the teacher may want to consider using to examine the various crimes against humanity that took place within the Ottoman Empire would be Joseph Toynbee’s book The Treatment Of Armenians In The Ottoman Empire (1916). This book will allow for the students to read about Viscount Bryce’s experiences as he witnessed the atrocities that took place during the events in Armenia. One last source that may be of use for this lesson comes from the Armenian National Institute (https://www.armenian-genocide.org/), this particular website will provide the teacher with many resources from photographs to firsthand accounts of events.
With these particular sources the teacher may choose to complete various extension activities to further develop the students learning. One activity may be for students to create a displacement map. The students will understand what the definition of the word is and how it applies to the topic by this point. The teacher will direct students to create a map of what they think displacement means to them. Student maps could be displayed and the lesson concluded with a gallery walk, or the maps could be individually presented to the class. For this lesson, it is important for the teacher to keep in mind that many of the sources are lengthy, but the teacher may choose specific excerpts from the texts that depict the atrocities that took place. These shortened readings will allow for students to gain an understanding of the events while not being discouraged by the complete text. One way to achieve an understanding while not discouraging students will be for them to read an excerpt of events that took place. While they read through the selected excerpts, students will create a chart of specific actions that took place during the Armenian genocide. Following the completion of the student charts, the teacher can then ask students to create a tree map that highlights various actions taken during the genocide. The trunk of the tree would be labeled Armenian genocide and the individual branches off of it will be the various actions taken against the Armenian people.
Once the initial analysis of the documents and maps have been completed, students will take the information learned and apply it to maps through analysis. At this point in the lesson, the students will be broken up into small groups of three to four and examine the 1919 map from the Armenian Delegation and a present day map of Turkey in order to determine what has been lost as well as gained from this genocide. The groups will think about what the 1919 map proposed as an Armenian boundary, whether that proposal became a reality or not, and why. Students will also be asked to generate a list of any questions they may have about the maps during their map analysis. Once the map analysis has been completed, the groups will share their responses with the rest of the class. Following this, the teacher will then ask the students to create a list of arguments as to why the events studied would be considered a genocide by the standards set forth by Genocide Watch. Once the class has concluded the various map activities, students will then watch a brief video Intent to Destroy by George Berlinger. The video explores present day thoughts about the Armenian Genocide and why many do not feel compelled to use the word genocide when describing it while providing a historical background of the event. Following the video, the class will discuss if the arguments today hold any validity based on what they have learned about the event and if the use or lack of use of maps could have made for a more compelling argument.
Week 3: Ukrainian Famine Genocide
Population Decline in Ukraine from 1929-1933, Sergento
Using the chronological approach to mapping the various genocides that have taken place in the early twentieth century, the third week of the unit will cover the Ukrainian famine genocide, or Holodomor that took place under Soviet rule. Unlike other acts of genocide, students will examine the events that took place within Ukraine in a way that is not in line what they have been learning up to this point. One aspect with the Ukrainian famine that will need to be pointed out to the students is that the events of Ukraine did not solely focus on the killings of individuals. Rather this particular genocide was initiated through the starvation of a people from 1932 to 1933. Philip Wolny’s book Holodomor: The Ukrainian Famine-Genocide (Bearing Witness: Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing) will serve as a major source to show students just how impactful acts of hatred on a people can be, along with the impact famine can have on a person. This book will highlight the experiences people went through during this famine along with the political motivations behind it. Students will be given a brief historical lesson on the background of events that led up to the ethnic cleansing of a people in Ukraine through starvation. One lesson would be to speak of how the Soviets deliberately steered foreign visitors away from various spots so they would not see the bodies lying in the streets. At this point the teacher could ask the students to map out what a city or town might have looked like as a result of the starvation. The teacher will ask students to highlight how starvation would have impacted the people in the city or town, and what that would have looked like. The teacher will also want students to focus on how starvation would have made an impact on people’s daily lives and activities. Once the students have been given time to generate their town maps, they would be then asked to share them with another student in the class. This student would then analyze the map and create a list of emotions the map evokes, and the class would have a discussion on the emotions they generated as a result of the maps created.
Once the class has examined the historical context of the event, they will then examine various maps such as the population decline of the peoples in Ukraine and sources from the Library of Congress and the Holodomor Research and Education Consortium (https://education.holodomor.ca/). These sources will provide the opportunity for students to read through various letters from government officials to Joseph Stalin depicting the events, along with first-hand accounts of individuals who survived the atrocities in Ukraine. Students will be able to read through these letters and highlight any actions or phrases that standout to them. Following this close reading activity, students will then use the information they have gathered from the lesson and maps to answer the following question: Would you consider starvation an act of Genocide? After students have been given time to answer this question individually, the students will then break into small groups to share out their individual answers. While the small groups are sharing their answers with one another, the teacher will ask each group to create a group answer they agree upon that will be shared with the rest of the class. Once each of the groups have shared their answers with the class, the teacher will then direct students to the final assignment of the lesson.
For the final assignment of this lesson students will be provided with a blank sheet of paper and asked to create a Mind Map from the perspective of an individual who either was starving or survived the Ukrainian famine genocide. Students will be directed to think about what these individuals went through and map out their thoughts and feelings onto the mind map. Due to the nature of the activity, the teacher will want to walk around the class and support students as they navigate through the activity. Once the students have completed this activity, they will share their mind maps within small groups. Each group will then come up with a list of the most common phrases or thoughts that were depicted within the mind maps and share them with the class. Another activity the teacher could complete with the mind map would be for students to place their maps on the wall and have a gallery walk where students walk around and observe each mind map. While students are walking around looking at the mind maps, they will have post-it notes in their hands and be able to write any comments or questions on the post-it and place it onto the mind map. The class will then be able to read the comments and engage in a larger discussion based on what has been written.
Week 4: Japanese Invasion of Nanking
The unit will conclude by examining the Japanese invasion of Nanking prior to the start of World War II. This particular unit will focus on the grotesque acts carried out by the Japanese Army against the people of China. Throughout the lesson, students will be provided with various maps ranging from aerial maps by the United States Aircraft Squadron in 1929 (https://www.loc.gov/resource/g7824n.ct003668/?r=-0.678,0.102,2.357,0.892,0) to Joan Blaeu’s 1665 map of Nanking in the David Rumsey Map Collection. These maps will allow for the students to practice their map skills, by answering a set of specific questions asked of them by the teacher. Examples of questions the teacher may ask the students to answer include: Note all the elements within the map’s frame, what is being represented? What elements are emphasized in the map? An extension question to this activity will be for the teacher have students think about how maps might serve a purpose when an Army invades another country, or in what ways can a map signify/imply a specific event or actions taken? Students will be able to share their answers with the rest of the class and the teacher write down responses on the board to generate a discussion.
Once the discussion has concluded, the students will be able discuss their answers within a group setting and then use maps from one of the primary sources of this lesson, Iris Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. The maps within this book will allow students to gain an understanding of where exactly the Japanese Army went once they landed in China. While exploring this specific map, the student should be asked to think about what impact this invasion had on the people involved as the Japanese Army marched toward Nanking. At this point the teacher may choose to complete an extension activity based on what the students’ responses to the questions are, or they may have the students break into smaller groups to discuss the maps amongst themselves. As previously stated, one of the main sources that students will be using is Iris Chang’s book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. The content and visual maps within Chang’s book will provide students with a deeper understanding of the harm inflicted by the Japanese Army on the people of China once they arrived in Nanking. One example of hatred the students will examine is the separation of families from one another at the hands of the Japanese army. Once students have received a brief lesson on the content and read about various acts of genocide that have taken place, the class will then look at various maps from Chang’s book to gain a better understanding of where exactly these events took place. While the students are examining the various maps, the teacher will want the students to not only generate any questions or thoughts they may have about the maps themselves. The teacher will also want the students to think about how various types of maps can create a story. Once the students have completed this activity and thought question exercise, the teacher may choose to have a brief discussion with the students to gauge where their thinking is about maps and the stories they can tell.
At this point in the lesson, the students will take the maps and sources they have used up to this point and create a map of military occupation by a foreign army within a country’s borders. For this activity the students will be directed to complete a map depicting what a military occupation of a city would look like and how people might be impacted by having an invading army stationed within their city’s borders. The teacher may decide to have the students create these maps either in small groups or individually. Whichever choice is made by the teacher, they will then want to have the students share their maps and revisit the question of how can maps create a story?
After the class has examined the sources related to the lesson, the teacher will then direct the class to the final assignment. For this assignment, students will be given a handout with a family silhouette printed on it. The students will then be instructed to think about everything they have learned and create a map on family separation and the impact losing loved ones might have on a family unit during this time. The teacher will direct students to create a feelings map, where they express what the thoughts of individual family members might have been during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. Once all of the students’ maps have been created, each group will share their maps to the rest of the class by displaying them across the room. The class will be given time to examine the maps that have been created by the class. Once students have been given time to examine the maps created, the class will then think about how maps can tell a deeper story of what took place in Nanking through visual representation. The teacher will ask the students to answer the following question How do maps help us form a better understanding of events such as genocide? The student’s answers will be displayed on the board and the class will discuss what they have learned through the maps.
The final day of the unit will conclude with the teacher handing back the students their initial drawings of the town/village they created at the start of the unit. The teacher will remind the class that at the beginning of the unit they were asked to draw a map of a village or town on the eve of a genocide and what it might look like. The teacher may choose to review the opening drawings the students created and highlight some of the points that were made when students initially made their maps. At this point the students will be provided with another sheet of paper and asked to draw that same town or village after a genocide has taken place. Students will be asked to think about how daily life might have changed for the people living within this town, how the geographic landscape might have changed, how the population of the town may have changed, along with any other geographic or other changes they might think of as a result of what they have learned. After the students have completed their final maps they will pair up into small groups and share them with their fellow students. While students are sharing their maps amongst their groups, the teacher will want to remind the students to make sure they discuss the changes they notice on the maps that they have been created. After the groups have concluded their share session, individual students will then compare the two maps they have created and answer the following question in a brief response: Based on the maps you have created describe the impact that a genocide can have on people?