The Century: America's Time

Episode 5, Over the Edge           Name_______________________

This episode documents the years that led up to the beginning of World War II. From burning books to Kristallnacht, this episode examines the anti-Semitism that eventually dominated German thinking. It also analyses the new ways in which leaders were able to use the technology of the twentieth century, such as the media for propaganda purposes and offers a domestic view to the European conflict, and how and where Americans received their information.



Discussion Questions

  1. Germany hosted the 1936 Summer Olympics. How did Hitler use the 1936 Olympics to promote his Nazi Party?






  1. American Jesse Owens' stunning victory in the 100-meter race angered Adolph Hitler. How did Owens' victory shatter the Nazi propaganda about Aryan supremacy?






  1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a master of the media. How did he use the media to do battle in the Great Depression? How did he use the media to rally support during World War II?






  1. Discuss the impact of radio on American history and American culture in the twentieth century.






  1. How did Adolph Hitler use propaganda and the media to achieve his desired goals?






  1. In the late 1930s, the Nazi Party in Germany burned books. Why did they do this? How can books be considered such a threat that some might find it necessary to burn them?






7.       What were the Nuremberg Laws? How did they affect the Jewish population of Germany and German-occupied states?







  1. World War II was not the first time anti-Semitism reared its ugly head. Discuss the history of anti-Semitism in Europe.







  1. England and its Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, seemed to appease Hitler. Why did they choose this passive strategy?







  1. What was Kristallnacht? What prompted this show of Nazi aggression?







  1. Why did the United States refuse to let the St. Louis dock in the United States and allow its passengers to emigrate?







  1. How did the Americans view the war in Europe (starting in 1939), and how would it affect the America at home?






  1. What was the Lend-Lease policy (between the U.S. and  Britain)?





  1. When did the draft start in the United States (to prepare for World War II), and in what condition was the U.S. military prior to WWII?






Extended Activities

  1. Research Life magazine published during the years of the Great Depression and illustrate how it gave Americans a pictorial account of the depression.
  2. Imagine that you are a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Keep a diary or journal that tells of your emotions and experiences.
  3. Create a poster advertising the historic boxing match between American Joe Louis and German Max Schmelling.