by Martin Niemöller
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Elie Wiesel's "The Perils of Indifference" SpeechElie Wiesel
In "Elie Wiesel's 'The Perils of Indifference' Speech," the Holocaust survivor discusses the consequences of acting indifferently towards the suffering of others.Pair “Elie Wiesel’s ‘The Perils of Indifference’ Speech” with “First They Came...” and ask students to discuss the consequences of indifference or silence. Why did Niemöller not speak up — because of indifference or fear? How would Wiesel have reacted to “First They Came...”?
Adolf HitlerJessica McBirney
In the informational text "Adolf Hitler," Jessica McBirney discusses Adolf Hitler's life, his rise to power, and the violence that followed.Pair “First They Came…” with “Adolf Hitler” to provide students with background information on Hitler's regime leading up to and during World War II. Ask students to consider why people followed Hitler or remained silent during his dictatorship. How did Hitler use fear to control people?
The LotteryShirley Jackson
In Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery," an entire town participates in a ritual that turns surprisingly sinister.Pair “First They Came” with “The Lottery” and ask students to compare how the two texts explore the dangers of following the crowd. How does Martin Niemöller’s response to the Nazis’ violence compare to Mrs. Hutchison’s response to the lottery? How does a person’s concept of what is fair or acceptable change depending on the position they are in?
The Third WaveCommonLit Staff
The Third Wave was an experimental social movement created by high school history teacher Ron Jones in 1967 to explain how the German populace could accept the actions of the Nazi regime during the Second World War. While he taught his students about Nazi Germany during his "Contemporary World History" class, Jones found it difficult to explain how the German people could accept the actions of the Nazis, and decided to create a social movement as a demonstration of the appeal of fascism. As the movement grew outside his class and began to number in the hundreds, Jones began to feel that the movement had spiraled out of control.Pair “The Third Wave” with “First They Came…” and ask students to discuss how authoritarian systems create false senses of superiority and community. How are these senses of superiority and community used to justify terrible acts? How does this group mindset promote silence?
The Worst SinJoshua Salik
How do we judge what is right and wrong? Are there some actions that are better or worse that others? These are just a few of the questions raised in this parable about the Jewish judgment day, Yom Kippur, by Joshua Salik.Pair “The Worst Sin” with “First They Came…” and ask students to discuss the dangers of indifference. How would the author of “First They Came…” be judged according to the parable “The Worst Sin”? Do students think that is fair?
Introduction to the HolocaustThe United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This informational text explains what the Holocaust was, who it affected, who carried it out, and how it ended.Pair “Introduction to the Holocaust” with “First They Came…” to provide students with further background knowledge on the Holocaust. How does “Introduction to the Holocaust” shape their understanding of the quotation? Ask them to discuss the importance of speaking out against violence and oppression. Why do some people find it difficult to do so?
Courage in Denmark: Resistance to the Nazis in WWIIThe United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Danish resistance during the Holocaust is explored in the context of global efforts to thwart the Nazis during World War II.Pair “Courage in Denmark: Resistance to the Nazis in WWII” with “First They Came…” and ask students to discuss how the quotation relates to Denmark’s protection of its Jewish citizens. Why do you think more nations, institutions, and individuals did not defend the rights of Jewish people during the Holocaust? Whose responsibility is it to defend those who are persecuted for their religious beliefs, their ethnicity, or other aspects of their identity? Does that responsibility belong with individuals, governments, or both?
Woman Who Helped Anne Frank Dies at 100Teri Schultz, National Public Radio
In this interview from NPR, a reporter speaks to the woman who helped to hide Anne Frank's family, risking her own life in the process.Pair “Woman Who Helped Anne Frank Dies at 100” with “First They Came…” and ask students to compare the actions of Gies and Niemöller. How did Gies support those who were targeted by Hitler's regime (i.e. Jewish people)? Do people always need to speak up in order to help others?
Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar GermanyThe United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This article details the rise of anti-Semitic laws in Nazi Germany throughout the 1930s which eventually led to the complete dehumanization and segregation of Jews living in Nazi-occupied territory.Pair “First They Came” with “Anti-Jewish Legislation in Prewar Germany” and ask students to discuss the consequences of not standing up against prejudice and discrimination. How does the quotation shed light on why Germans did not fight back against anti-Jewish legislation? What insight does the article provide on the quotation?
The Wretched and the BeautifulE. Lily Yu
In "The Wretched and the Beautiful," alien refugees land on Earth.Pair the poem “First They Came...” with “The Wretched and the Beautiful” and ask students to compare the actions of the speaker in the poem with those of the humans in the short story. What do you think the speaker of the poem would say to the humans in the short story?