Introduction to the Holocaust Commonlit Answers

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  • 11th Grade
  • Lexile: 1490

Source: Introduction to the Holocaust by The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Assessment Answers

QuestionAnswer
Which of the following best describes the central idea of the text?Nazi Germany killed millions of Jews and other targeted groups during the Holocaust.
What is the meaning of “deplorable” in paragraph 5?horrible
How does paragraph 5 contribute to the discussion of the Holocaust in the text?It highlights the extent of the Nazi regime’s persecution and violence against many groups of people.
PART A: What does the word “concentrate” most closely mean as it is used in paragraph 8?gather
PART B: Which phrase from paragraph 8 best supports the answer to Part A?“keep Jews grouped closely together”
Over time, groups that were targeted by the Nazi regime were –discriminated against and eventually killed.
How does the conclusion contribute to the overall text?It discusses how the Holocaust ended and its lasting effects.
Which of the following describes the author’s purpose in the text?to provide a summary of the events of the Holocaust

According to the text, what was the relationship between prejudice against Jewish people and the oppression they suffered during the Holocaust? Cite evidence from the text in your response.

The relationship between prejudice against Jewish people and the oppression they suffered during the Holocaust is rooted in the Nazis’ systemic and ideologically driven persecution based on racial theories.

The text highlights that the Nazis, led by Adolf Hitler, believed in the racial superiority of Germans and deemed Jews as “inferior,” posing an alien threat to the so-called German racial community. This belief underpinned the Holocaust, the systematic, state-sponsored persecution, and murder of six million Jews.

Evidence from the text includes the definition of the Holocaust as “the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.” This passage underscores the direct link between anti-Semitic prejudice and the genocidal actions taken against Jewish people.

The text further explains that this persecution was based on the Nazis’ view of Jews being an inferior race, which was a central tenet of their ideology: “The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were ‘racially superior’ and that the Jews, deemed ‘inferior,’ were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.”

Additionally, the “Final Solution,” mentioned in the text as the Nazi policy to murder the Jews of Europe, illustrates the culmination of deeply ingrained prejudice against Jews, translating into widespread and systematic oppression.

This policy led to the murder of nearly two out of every three European Jews by 1945, showcasing the extreme consequences of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic prejudice.

Thus, the text clearly establishes that the oppression Jewish people suffered during the Holocaust was a direct result of the Nazis’ racial prejudice against them, leading to one of the most horrific genocides in human history.

Discussion Answers

The Nazis and people who agreed with them wanted to protect the German community from “inferior” races. Are there other examples in history or literature in which groups of people murdered innocent people in the name of “protecting” themselves? How are these examples similar to or different from the Holocaust?

Throughout history, there have been several instances where groups of people have committed atrocities against others under the guise of “protecting” their own community, ideology, or way of life.

These acts are often driven by fear, prejudice, and a desire for power or purity. While each event has its unique context and scale, there are similarities and differences when compared to the Holocaust:

  1. Rwandan Genocide (1994): Over approximately 100 days, members of the Hutu ethnic majority in Rwanda murdered as many as 800,000 people, mostly of the Tutsi minority. The genocide was fueled by a long-standing rivalry and narrative that the Tutsi were planning to enslave the Hutu, thus framed as an act of self-protection by extremists.
    • Similarity: Like the Holocaust, it was a state-supported genocide where propaganda played a significant role in dehumanizing the targeted group.
    • Difference: The Holocaust was more industrialized and systematic, involving the construction of extermination camps. The Rwandan Genocide was carried out with more rudimentary weapons like machetes and was more confined geographically and temporally.
  2. Armenian Genocide (1915-1923): The Ottoman government systematically exterminated 1.5 million Armenians, often justified by portraying the Armenians as a threat to the state because of their supposed collaboration with the enemy during World War I.
    • Similarity: Both genocides involved mass deportations, forced marches, and mass killings as means of eradicating the targeted group.
    • Difference: The Armenian Genocide occurred during a time of war and imperial collapse, which was used as a cover for the atrocities, unlike the Holocaust’s context of Nazi ideology of racial purity.
  3. The Cambodian Genocide (1975-1979): Led by the Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot, this genocide aimed to create an agrarian socialist society, resulting in the deaths of up to 2 million people from starvation, forced labor, torture, and execution.
    • Similarity: The ideology-driven aspect of targeting those considered enemies of the state or of the ideology in power mirrors the racial ideology of the Nazis.
    • Difference: The Cambodian Genocide was more about class warfare and purging society of perceived political enemies, rather than the racial and ethnic targeting central to the Holocaust.
  4. Colonial genocides and American Indigenous peoples: Various acts of violence, forced removal, and policies of assimilation against Indigenous peoples in the Americas over centuries can also be seen as efforts to “protect” colonial and later national interests.
    • Similarity: The use of ideology to justify the taking of land and lives under the guise of civilization or protection.
    • Difference: These acts were spread over a longer period and involved a combination of direct violence and policies leading to death and cultural destruction, rather than the concentrated, industrial scale of the Holocaust.

These examples share the tragic theme of one group deeming another as a threat based on distorted ideologies, leading to justification of mass violence. The Holocaust remains unique in its scale, systematic approach, and the ideology of racial purity driving it.

Each of these historical atrocities underlines the dangerous power of propaganda, prejudice, and the failure of international systems to protect the most vulnerable.


What might have made the Nazis murder, imprison, and oppress certain people? Do you think those people were really a threat, or could there have been other motivations?

The motivations behind the Nazis’ decision to murder, imprison, and oppress certain groups of people stem from a complex mix of ideological, political, and social factors, rather than any real threat those groups posed to the German state or its people. The primary motivations can be analyzed as follows:

  1. Ideological Beliefs: Central to Nazi ideology was the belief in racial purity and superiority, particularly of the Aryan race. Jews, Roma, people with disabilities, and others were considered inferior and a threat to the racial purity and health of the German nation. This pseudo-scientific racial ideology was used to justify the extermination of these groups.
  2. Political Control: The Nazis targeted political dissidents, including Communists, Socialists, and trade unionists, to eliminate opposition and consolidate their power. By framing these groups as enemies of the state, the regime could justify harsh measures against them to the German public.
  3. Social Engineering: The regime aimed to create a homogenized society that conformed to its vision of an ideal community. This involved not only the elimination of racial and biological “others” but also of those who did not fit into the Nazi social order, such as homosexuals and religious dissenters like Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  4. Economic Exploitation: The oppression and extermination of certain groups also had an economic dimension. Confiscation of Jewish property and use of forced labor from prisoners of war, Slavic peoples, and others contributed to the war effort and the German economy.

In assessing whether these targeted groups posed a real threat to the Nazis, it becomes evident that the perceived threats were largely constructed by Nazi propaganda and ideology. The Jews and other targeted groups were not a threat to the state’s security or to the German people in any tangible way.

Instead, these groups were scapegoated to rally the German population behind the Nazi regime, divert attention from economic and political instability, and fulfill the regime’s dystopian vision of a racially pure and socially homogeneous society.

Therefore, the motivations behind the Nazis’ actions were rooted in their own ideological and political agendas rather than any legitimate threat posed by the targeted groups.

This scapegoating allowed the Nazis to manipulate public opinion, justify their policies of exclusion and extermination, and maintain control over the population by uniting them against a common enemy.


In the context of this article, what makes people do bad things? Cite evidence from this text, your own experience, and other literature, art, or history in your answer.

In the context of the article about the Holocaust, it seems like a mix of fear, hatred, and the desire for power can drive people to do bad things. The Nazis, driven by a twisted ideology of racial superiority, believed that purging society of those they deemed inferior or a threat would create a stronger, purer nation.

The text mentions, “The Nazis, who came to power in Germany in January 1933, believed that Germans were ‘racially superior’ and that the Jews, deemed ‘inferior,’ were an alien threat to the so-called German racial community.”

From my own experience and what I’ve seen around, people often act out of fear or prejudice. It’s like when someone spreads rumors about someone else because they’re different or don’t fit in—it comes from not understanding or fearing those differences. It’s not on the same scale as the Holocaust, of course, but it shows how fear and misunderstanding can lead to harmful actions.

Looking at literature, in “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, the character of Tom Robinson is a victim of racial prejudice in the Deep South.

Despite evidence proving his innocence, Tom is convicted because of his race. This reflects how societal prejudices and fears can lead to unjust actions against innocent people.

In history, another example is the witch hunts in Salem and across early modern Europe. Fear of the unknown, combined with religious fervor, led to the persecution and execution of many, particularly women, accused of witchcraft. It’s a clear case of fear leading to the harm of others.

Art also reflects these themes. Picasso’s “Guernica” depicts the horrors of the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War, showing the chaos and suffering caused by political and military ambitions.

In all these cases, including the Holocaust, a combination of fear, ignorance, and the desire for power or purity leads people to commit atrocities.

It underscores the importance of education, empathy, and understanding in preventing such actions. Understanding our differences and recognizing our shared humanity is key to not repeating the mistakes of the past.


The Holocaust is taught in history classes today so that people will never forget. Although it is not pleasant to hear about the murder of millions of people because of their religion, race, or beliefs, educators believe it is important to study. What can we learn from tragedy, and why is it important to study tragic history?

Studying tragic history like the Holocaust, despite its discomfort, holds immense value for several reasons. Firstly, it serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of unchecked hatred, prejudice, and authoritarianism.

The Holocaust illustrates how societal norms and laws can be manipulated to justify discrimination and violence against certain groups, leading to unimaginable suffering and loss. Learning about these events reminds us of the dangers of intolerance and the importance of vigilance in protecting human rights.

Secondly, studying tragedies like the Holocaust teaches us about the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the horrors, there are countless stories of survival, resistance, and the will to live. These narratives inspire us and demonstrate the capacity for individuals to overcome adversity, fight against injustice, and make meaningful changes in their communities and the world.

Additionally, tragic history offers lessons on the responsibility of individuals and societies to stand up against injustice. It challenges us to reflect on our moral choices and the impact of our actions (or inactions) on others.

The Holocaust, in particular, shows how the complicity or silence of the majority can contribute to the persecution of the minority, emphasizing the need for courage and action in the face of wrongdoing.

From a broader perspective, understanding tragic events helps foster empathy and tolerance. By learning about the suffering of others, students can develop a deeper understanding of and compassion for people from different backgrounds and experiences.

This empathy is crucial in building inclusive societies that value diversity and work actively to prevent discrimination.

Lastly, studying tragedies like the Holocaust is vital for preventing history from repeating itself. It teaches critical thinking about propaganda, stereotyping, and the manipulation of fear and prejudice by those seeking power.

By analyzing how such events occurred, students can recognize similar patterns in contemporary society and be better equipped to counter them.

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