Surviving Hitler

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"Think of it as a game, Jack.
Play the game right and you might outlast the Nazis."

Caught up in Hitler's Final Solution to annihilate Europe's Jews, fifteen-year-old Jack Mandelbaum is torn from his family and thrown into the nightmarish world of the concentration camps. Here, simple existence is a constant struggle, and Jack must learn to live hour to hour, day to day. Despite intolerable conditions, he resolves not to hate his captors and vows to see his family again. But even with his strong will to survive, how long can Jack continue to play this life-and-death game?

Award-winning author Andrea Warren has crafted an unforgettable true story of a boy becoming a man in the shadow of the Third Reich.

Curriculet Details
42 Questions
24 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 6th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining inference, central idea and textual evidence. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about text structure and author's point of view. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of the Jewish Holocaust, the struggle for personal survival, and concentration camp life in World War II. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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In this book, you will read Jack Mandelbaum's autobiography, a real boy who survived Hitler during the Jewish Holocaust of WWII. Jack was one of many millions of people persecuted and killed by Hitler and the Nazi government. In 1993, director Steven Spielberg made a movie called "Schindler's List" about another man who tried to save as many people as possible from the horrible events of the Holocaust. Even though most of the movie is in black and white, Spielberg created a scene with a little girl in a red coat. The little girl became a symbol for the almost 6 million people who died. Read Spielberg's quote again and think about the words. How is hatred and intolerance not just in history, but still happening?  (This annotation contains an image)


The author states that "we must be warned." What do you think we need to be warned about? Why is it so important that we be warned about it? 


Reverend Niemoller was a Christian minister in Germany. As the quote states, he wasn't a member of a different political party or religion than the Nazi officials, but that did not stop Reverend Niemoller from being sent to a concentration camp. Concentration camps were built and filled with people, many of who practiced the Jewish religion. In the camps, conditions were beyond terrible. People starved, froze, performed backbreaking labor and grew very ill. Most people sent to concentration camps died. Some camps, like Auschwitz, were built for one purpose--to kill people. Below is a photograph from Auschwitz's gate. The inscription reads, "Work will make you free." It was a lie. Today, Auschwitz is a museum visited by millions of people.  (This annotation contains an image)

1. Rumors of War, 1939

What is the purpose of the opening sentence: "Until he was twelve, Jack Mandelbaum assumed his life would always be a carefree adventure." 
Did you know you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click or press on the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Is there a word on this page you need to look up? 
Which statement best describes the central idea of the selected text? 
Charlie Chaplin was an actor, comedian and filmmaker. He acted in "silent films" or movies made before audio technology allowed for films to have sound and speaking roles. Today, Charlie Chaplin is known as one of the greatest contributors to film of all time.  (This annotation contains an image)
Greco-Roman wrestling is a style that differs from freestyle wrestling Greco-Roman wrestling does not allow holds above the waist. Both Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling have a long history and are both sports played at the Olympic Games. The image below shows a Greco-Roman wrestling match. (This annotation contains an image)
The selected paragraph begins with the sentence, “I was a mischievous boy.” What is the mischief discussed in this paragraph?  
Learn more about Hitler's motivations for hating the Jews from the interview at the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
According to the first two paragraphs of the interview article, what was the biggest difference between Nazi hatred of Jewish people and the long conflict between Jews and Christians that existed in Europe for centuries? 
Which of the following events in Jack's life prior to and including 1939 was not a direct result of the threat of war? 
Use your own words to summarize the rumors that precede Jack and his family fleeing Gdynia. Use facts from the text. Do not include your personal opinions or judgements. 

2. Occupation

As you read and complete the activities, you use evidence from the text to support your answers. Textual evidence are examples or quotes taken directly from text. These examples and quotes support your thoughts about the text--your inferences, claims, and assertions. The video below explains more about textual evidence. (This annotation contains a video)
The reader can infer from the selected text that the train is crowded because 
Use your own words to explain how the photo of Grandfather's house adds to your understanding of Jack's story. 
Which of the phrases below best describes Jack's actions in the selected passage? 
A yellow Star of David was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust as a method of identifying Jews. If Jewish people did not wear the star in public, they could be fined, beaten or arrested and sent to a concentration camp. The word Jude is written in a Hebrew-style script. Jude means Jew in German. Germans made other persecuted people were different symbols and colors. For instance, homosexual people were forced to wear pink triangles. Jehovah's Witnesses had to wear purple triangles.  (This annotation contains an image)
Create a timeline of events of what took place after Jack and his family arrived in Grandfather's village. List your events chronologically and check to make sure they are in the correct order.  

3. A Growing Fear

What does the word "rationed" mean as it is used in the passage? 
Why do the people in the selected passage want to pay Jack to do their work? 
Jack does hard labor every day, even though he is too young. Why?  
Jack was a good worker. Which of the details from the text does not support this? 
The selected text is an example of foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is a literary device used to prepare the reader for something that will happen in the future. The video below provides a deeper explanation of foreshadowing. (This annotation contains a video)

4. Despair

Nazis frequently moved entire neighborhoods of people without warning. These kinds of roundups of people were usually conducted very early for two reasons. First, the majority of people would still be home early in the morning. Second, it took a long time to move hundreds of people. The Nazis wanted to have the whole day to finish their work. Study the famous photograph below of Nazis moving Jewish families out of a ghetto in Poland. What do you think the people in the picture felt? (This annotation contains an image)
Jack has the letter with the Nazi stamp from the electrician. Do you think it will help him? 
The author fails to tell the reader why the Nazis separated Jack from his family after he showed them the letter. The reader can, however, infer from the surrounding text the reasons why Jack was sent a different way. Which sentence explains the separation? 

5. The Right to Die

Every prisoner in a labor camp has a number. The number becomes their identity. Which of the sentences below explains why the Nazis do not care about the names of the prisoners? 
The uniform worn by prisoners in labor camps looked similar to the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
The image below shows the number tattooed on a prisoner's arm. Jack's number is 16013. According to the text, Jack "no longer had a name" and using the number was one way the Nazis dehumanized people in the camps.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz #1 

6. Learning the Rules

Which of the excerpts from the text provides evidence for understanding the meaning of the word "kapo" as it is used in the passage? 
The crematorium was a place where dead bodies were burned. Smoke and ashes came through the chimneys and fell over the camps. The photograph below shows a view of the thick smoke from a nearby village. Think about how the smoke from the crematorium emphasizes the statement, "The Nazis seemed to have figured out everything, including how to eliminate evidence that someone had ever existed."  (This annotation contains an image)
Conditions in the concentration camps were horrible and prisoners were expected to work all day without enough food or water. Jack is put on a work crew to build a road using "only axes and chains" as tools. When one prisoner stumbles, the guards beat him unconscious. Why is Jack describing these horrific details? How do these details contribute to the text? (This annotation contains an image)
Which of the camp philosophies does Jack decide to follow? Explain the reasons why Jack decides to work hard. Cite from the text to support your argument.  

7. The Game

Which of the sentences reveals the central idea of the selected passage? 
What is one question the book answers by explaining how living in the labor camp is like a game?  
The term used to describe the mass killing of a specific group or race of people is genocide. We would like to think that genocide on the level of the Holocaust no longer occurs. Sadly, it happens more often than you might realize. Read the article about the Bosnia genocide at the link below. As you read look for similarities and differences between Bosnia and the Holocaust. Write a brief response comparing and contrasting the Holocaust with the genocide in Bosnia. 

8. Hour by Hour

The main idea or central idea of a passage gives the reader an idea of what the passage is going to discuss. As you read informational texts, identify the central idea as well as the details that support it. The video below explains what a central idea is and how to identify it in a nonfiction text.  (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the excerpts describes the central idea of the selected text?  
What is the purpose of the selected text? 
Jack is very resourceful when it comes to his own survival. Summarize the steps Jack takes to ensure he doesn't become another victim. Use textual evidence to support your response.  

9. Death’s Door

Dysentery is serious disease. It causes severe diarrhea and stomach cramps. Untreated, dysentery can cause death, especially if the person with dysentery does not have access to enough fluids to drink.  
Poor hygienic conditions, like those in the camp, cause dysentery. Even though dysentery is relatively easy to treat, the camp "doctors" rarely treated sick prisoners. It was easier to replace a prisoner with a new person than to help a sick prisoner get better. In the selected paragraphs, Jack realizes he will face "the needle" if he cannot get back to his barracks quickly. Continue to read to discover who helps Jack.  

10. Moniek

What is the purpose of the highlighted text? 
A gas chamber is a place for killing humans or animals with poison gas. The image below shows a gas chamber located in the Auschwitz camp. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on the evidence in the text, how does Moniek influence Jack? 
Quiz #2 

11. The Miracle

Think about the structure or framework of a house or skyscraper. The beams have to go up before the walls. The same is true for a text. An informational text can have many different organizational structures: chronological, cause-effect, comparison-contrast, sequential, and problem-solution. In this book, the structure is chronological, meaning the events happen in sequence in the order they really occurred. One way to organize information chronologically is with a timeline. Below is an example of a timeline of the Auschwitz concentration camp.  (This annotation contains an image)
According to the text, what is the miracle that happens to Jack in this chapter? 
How would you describe the structure of Surviving Hitler? Use evidence from the text and the article "Chronological and Sequential Text Structure" to support your response.  

12. Liberation

The camp guards are also hungry. Why do you think there is a shortage of food? What evidence or details from the text help you infer the answer to this question? 
In the selected passage, Jack and Moniek are marched to the Doernhau concentration camp. It is similar to their previous camp, but in Doernhau, the prisoners speak Hungarian. When Jack and Moniek see a prisoner from the last camp that Moniek kicked out of the kitchen, the prisoner and his friends beat Moniek up.  
Which sentence from the text explains what the author means by saying "Hitler had won the game with Jack"? 
Which of the phrases below describes how the prisoners feel finding the camp guards gone? 
As the Allied Forces liberated camp after camp, the prisoners experienced relief, but opening the gates was only the first step in a very long process. Prisoners who survived looked like skeletons. Physically, mentally and emotionally recovery from life in the camps was difficult and lasted for the rest of a person's life. Below is a photograph of men released from a concentration camp. After surviving Hitler, what do you think Jack's life will be like in the last few chapters of the book?  (This annotation contains an image)

13. The Search

"Fräulein" is the German word for an unmarried woman. The English equivalent is "miss." 
Cite textual evidence explaining why Jack and Moniek traveled to the American zone.  
Getting food was a big problem for Jack and the other newly freed prisoners. Based on the text explain how Jack is able to solve this problem. 
Which question does the text answer that  explain what happened after the war was over?  

14. Creating a New Life

What is the central idea of the selected passage? 
Use textual evidence to explain how Jack's life changed after he moved to Kansas City. 
Which of the statements below best explains the purpose of the photos in Surviving Hitler? 
The selected text is a profound statement about history and the nature of mankind. What do you think Jack means when he says, "We must never think the Holocaust cannot happen again." What types of problems in a society might lead to another holocaust?  
Use evidence from the text to explain why Jack feels it is important for him to talk about his experiences. 

The Concentration Camps

The image below shows the location of Wroclaw (Breslau). Note its close location to the Polish border with Germany. (This annotation contains an image)
Which sentence from the selected paragraph best describes the central idea of the passage?  
Although it took a long time for nations to collectively go to war to stop the Nazi genocide in Europe, many people including German, British, American and other people helped individuals as best as they could. German people who thought Hitler was wrong hid Jews in their homes. The movie "The Book Thief" tells a fictional story about one German family that works to defy the Nazis. Watch the trailer to see how the story draws from events in real life.  (This annotation contains a video)
Quiz #3