This history-through-literature learning packet is designed to accompany The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Woman Survived the Holocaust. This memoir tells the true story of Edith Hahn Beer, who suffered as a slave laborer in both agricultural and industrial camps in the Nazi empire before finding a way to disappear into Aryan society.
She lived out the rest of the war as a “U-boat,” or a Jewish person passing for Aryan, eventually marrying a German to help preserve her cover. After the war, she confronted the realities of life in the Soviet sector, finally fleeing Germany for freedom in England and eventually, Israel.
ABOUT THIS TEACHING PACKET
This resource consists of student worksheets to accompany each chapter of The Nazi Officer’s Wife. Each worksheet consists of a variety of text-dependent questions about the target chapter. All questions are free-response and are presented in order to match the sequence of the target chapter; each worksheet is formatted to provide students enough space to record their answers.
WHY ONLY FREE RESPONSE QUESTIONS?
The basic purpose these questions are meant to address is that of reading check; they are designed to help teachers assess which students have carefully read the assigned chapter(s). To accomplish this, they need to lend themselves to guessing as little as possible. Using true/false or multiple choice questions would defeat this objective.
The questions themselves are carefully constructed to make guessing difficult. Questions with a limited logical set of answers, such as “What color?” or “Did Werner believe Edith?” are not included. In a number of cases, the correct answer is actually the least likely thing to occur to someone guessing, as in “What did the Russians answer when Edith asked them to help her husband?” – In that case, the correct answer is “Nothing,” since the text is explicit about the fact that they did NOT answer her despite her repeated requests.
SUGGESTED GRADING PROCEDURE
Because they are designed to be unguessable, some of the questions are fairly difficult, requiring recall at some level of detail. All of the questions focus on things that a careful reader SHOULD remember, but I don’t believe it’s reasonable to expect a student to have perfect recall of all the details in a chapter.
I therefore always score question sets like this on a pass/fail basis. For example, I might decide that each chapter’s worksheet is worth 10 points, no matter how many questions it presents. I then determine an acceptable percentage score – the score level at which I believe that a student has definitely read the chapter. The score needs to be high enough that a student won’t reach it if they merely skimmed; nor should a student be able to reach it if a friend read the chapter and then summarized it for them.
I usually use 70% or 75% as the cut-off point. Students who score at or above this level are considered to have read the chapter, and they receive the full 10 points regardless of their actual score level. Students who score below the cut-off point receive a zero score because they have not demonstrated that they have truly read the chapter.
You may wish to modify the zero score to the actual score earned, awarding 4 points out of 10 for a 40% score, for example. Students may perceive this as more “fair.” However, it may also allow some of them to believe that they can earn some points without actually doing the reading for themselves. This is why I opt to award zero points for a score below the cut-off level.
ANSWER KEY INFORMATION
Following the student worksheets, you will find a detailed answer key for all the questions. Answers are marked in bold red text to make them easy to find during grading.