Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Holding Leaders Responsible

Chet Geering


Students will be able to process a variety of information on the Nuremberg Trials, including the charges brought against the defendants. They will then answer short-answer questions on the topics discussed in class.


The student analyzes major historical events of the first half of the 20th century.


-WORLD HISTORY THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2001.
- Copies of questions for students (See attached file)
-Pen or pencil
- Dry Erase board
- Dry erase markers
- Access to copy machine


1. Read text Chapter 31 (or appropriate chapter).
2. Make one copy of the questions for each student.
3. Gather materials.


1. Ask students, -What were the Nuremberg Trials?- (Answer: Court Proceedings convened after the Second World War to hold those responsible accountable for terrible acts during the war.)
2. Tell the students that this was the first time in history that the people who caused a war or committed crimes during a war were held accountable for their actions on such a large scale.
3. Tell students that the actual idea for such a trial was first put into the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, but it was never used.
4. Ask students, -What were the charges against the defendants? - (Answers: (1) Conspiracy, (2) Crimes Against Peace, (3) War Crimes, and (4) Crimes Against Humanity.)
5. Put the answers on the board.
6. Ask students, -What does conspiracy mean?- (Answer: The systematic planning to commit any of the other three crimes listed above.)
7. Put the answer on the board.
8. Ask students, -What does Crimes Against Peace mean?- (Answer: The waging of aggressive war in defiance of all international agreements which outlaw war as a form of national policy.)
9. Put the answer on the board.
10. Ask students, -What does War Crimes mean?- (Answer: The killing, enslaving, or mistreatment of POW's or citizens, and the needless destruction of property.
11. Put the answer on the board.
12. Ask students, -What does Crimes Against Humanity mean?- (Answer: The killing, enslaving, deportation, or mistreatment of civilians either before or during war and any political, religious, or racial persecutions of a specific group of people.)
13. Put the answer on the board.
14. Ask students, -Who was put on trial for these charges?- (Answers: People in Germany who were captured and members of the government and/or the Nazi party.)
15. Tell students that this trial was important because the victors didn't just execute the losers. Those who were accused of crimes were put on trial by the countries that won the war. The rule of law was followed.
16. Ask students, -Which countries won the war and thus had judges at the trial?- (Answers: United States, Great Britain, France, and the Soviet Union)
17. Ask students, -Was everybody that was put on trial found guilty?- (Answer: No)
18. Ask students, -Why was it important, from the point of view of the US, that not everybody put on trial was found guilty?- (Answer: It gives the trial legitimacy.)
19. Ask students, -Do we still use this idea of a trial for leaders who commit terrible crimes today?- (Answer: Yes)
20. Ask students, -Where do we still use this concept today and for whom?- (Answers: A court has been created in The Hague, the Capital of the Netherlands, which resembles the court at Nuremberg. It is used for the people who committed crimes in the former nation of Yugoslavia during the 1990's.)
21. Students answer short-answer questions.
22. Teacher evaluates answers.


1. Students will be assessed by answering a series of short-answer questions on the topics covered in class. (20 points each)
2. The teacher can also informally evaluate the students by monitoring and encouraging their participation in class discussion.

Attached Files

Support Materials     File Extension: pdf

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