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The Pyramid of Hate
Explaining the Holocaust: How could
“normal” people become directly or
indirectly involved in a genocide?
What can we learn from the past?
In one school, a group of four boys began whispering and laughing about another boy in their
school that was new to the school and was Muslim. They began making comments when they
walked by him in the hall. Soon, they start calling the boy insulting, and calling him very bad
By the end of the month, they had taken their harassment to another level, tripping him as he
passed by and pushing him into a locker while they yelled slurs. Sometime during the next month,
they increased the seriousness of their conduct – they surrounded him and two boys held his arms
while the others hit and kicked him.
Eventually, one of the boys threatened to bring his father’s gun to school the next day to kill the
boy. At this point, another student overheard the threat and the police were notified. [1]
[1] Wessler, Steven, “Sticks and Stones”. Educational Leadership, December 2000/January 2001, p. 28.
4. Could something similar to this happen at our school?
5. How do you think a situation like this could affect the entire school?
6. What could have been done to stop the situation from escalating? Who could have stopped it?
Answer yes or no to the following questions on a piece of scratch paper:
Have you ever:
1. Overheard a joke that made fun of a person of a different ethnic background, race, religion,
gender, or sexual orientation.
2. Been the target of name-calling because of your ethnic background, race, religion, gender, or
sexual orientation.
3. Made fun of someone different from you?
4. Left someone out of an activity because they are different from you?
5. Not been invited to attend a activity or social function because many of the people there are
different from you?
6. Engaged in stereotyping (lumping together all people of a race, religion, or sexual orientation)?
7. Been threatened by someone who is different from you because of your difference?
8. Committed an act of violence against someone who is different from you?
Why do you think people tell ethnic jokes about other groups, insult others, or
exclude them socially?
Where do people learn to disrespect people who seem different?
Can you give examples of prejudice you have learned through the media?[1]
Martin Niemoller, First they came…..
Martin Niemöller was a German pastor born in Lippstadt, Germany, in 1892. Niemöller was an anti-Communist
and supported Hitler's rise to power at first. But when Hitler insisted on the supremacy of the Nazi party over
religion, Niemöller became disillusioned. He became the leader of a group of German clergymen opposed to
Hitler. In 1937 he was arrested and eventually confined in Sachsenhausen and Dachau. His crime was "not
being enthusiastic enough about the Nazi movement." Niemöller was released in 1945 by the Allies.
First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me
What Causes Hate?
• What causes hate? Reasons? Justifications?
• We often find it difficult to understand the level of
hatred directed at certain people or cultural groups
in society
In December 1989, a Montreal man gunned down 14 female
students at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal
– In 1998, White Texans dragged a black
– man to his death behind their pickup truck
– The World Trade Centre was attacked
by terrorists killing more than 3000 people
 "genocide“: the systematic extermination of a
nationality or group
 Combines Greek “geno” meaning “race” or “tribe”
with the Latin “cide” from “cadere” meaning
 This term was coined by
Raphael Lemkin as a
direct result of the Holocaust.
Characteristics of Genocide
• Genocide, as defined by the United Nations in 1948,
means any of the following acts committed with
intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnic, racial, or religious group, including:
Killing members of the group
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated
to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group
Characteristics continued...
 Genocide is an expression of national hatred
 The greatest excesses of hatred directed against minority
scapegoats are those that are carried out by order as national
 Adolf Hitler ranted about his hatred for Jews in his book Mein
Kampf while he was incarcerated
 In his book he blamed the Jews for all the failures in his own
The Holocaust
• the annihilation of the Jews and other groups of
people of Europe under the Nazi regime during
World War II
• 11 million people exterminated, 6 million Jews
• Shot, starved, gassed, burned, worked to death
• Stripped of rights, segregated,
put into concentration camps,
• “life unworthy of life”
The Holocaust: Factors of Hate
Stripped of German citizenship
Banned from German schools/universities
Forced to carry ID cards
Jewish synagogues destroyed
Forbidden marriages between Jews and Aryans
Possessions were confiscated
Heads shaved, arms tattooed
Men, women, children were separated
Inhumane medical experiments
Pyramid of Hate
Pyramid of Hate
Pyramid of Hate
Pyramid of Hate
Pyramid of
V. Genocide
The deliberate, systematic
extermination of an entire
IV. Violence
Against Property: Arson, Desecration
Against People: Threats, Assault, Terrorism,
III. Discrimination
Employment Discrimination, Housing Discrimination, Educational
Discrimination, Harassment (hostile acts based on a person’s
race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or gender)
II. Acts of Prejudice
Name calling, ridicule, social avoidance, social exclusion, telling belittling jokes
I. Prejudiced Attitudes
Accepting Stereotypes, not challenging belittling jokes, scapegoating (assigning blame to people
because of their group identity)
V. Genocide
IV. Violence
III. Discrimination
II. Acts of Prejudice
I. Prejudiced Attitudes
7. Where would you place “whispering and laughing” on the Pyramid?
8. Why do you think that something which, at first, seemed harmless, progressed into violence?
9. Even if it seemed harmless to the perpetrators and bystanders, do you think it felt harmless to the
victim? How do you think he felt?
10. At what level of the pyramid do you think it would be easiest for someone to intervene?
11. What would be some possible ways to intervene?