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The American Homefront
It's common knowledge that the American home front during World War II was a vital part of the war. Manufacturers of consumer goods became artillery, uniform, and supplies producers. Women entered the workforce in record numbers and American workers were continually reminded of whom they were working for.
The World War II lesson plan below has students examine the effects these facts about the American homefront during World War II may have had on the quality of shells produced in the United States as compared to those manufactured by forced labor in Germany and German-occupied countries.
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Objectives, Materials, and Procedures
Student Homework to prepare: None
Lesson Focus: This lesson plan will focus on the use of forced versus voluntary labor during WW II, and the impact the World War II American homefront had on the war effort.
Core Curriculum Content Standard: 6.3, 5-Explain relationships between cause, effect, and consequences, in order to understand significant historical events.
NCSS Thematic Standard: III People, Places and Environment. Teacher Expectation-Challenge learners to examine, interpret, and analyze the interactions of human beings and their physical environments.
Key Facts, Concepts and Vocabulary Words: GI, dud, concentration camp.
Performance Objective: Students will be able to discuss the quote in terms of free will, personal investment, and motive.
1. Motivating Device
"Over four decades of interviewing former GIs, I've been struck by how often they tell stories about duds, generally about shells falling near their foxholes and failing to explode. Lt. George Wilson said after one shelling near St.-Lo, 'I counted eight duds sticking in the ground within thirty yards of my foxhole.'"
--Ambrose, Stephen E. (1998).Citizen Soldiers. New York: Simon & Schuster.
2. What group of people made the shells used by American soldiers?
View interview of a woman working on the homefront throughout World War II, from the Jean Christensen Collection (AFC/2001/001/9226), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
3. What groups of people often made the shells used by German soldiers?
- Citizens of occupied countries who were sometimes deported to work in German munitions factories.
- People in concentration camps.
(Answers to the following will be opinion and will vary.)
4. Do you think the worker affected the quality of the shell? Why and how?
5. Why do you think some German shells turned out to be duds?
- Study Guide on Citizen Soldiers.
- Teaching experience.