Whoops! Something went wrong.

Click here to refresh the page

Only Following Orders

Only Following Orders
Product Description
This lesson introduces the idea that “I was only following orders” is not a legitimate defense. It refers to the Nuremberg and Tokyo War Crimes Trials where the validity of this idea was completely debunked. It highlights the 1961 Milgram experiment in which test subjects overrode their own conscience and administered faux electric shocks because an authority figure had given them permission to do so. It compares and contrasts instances from recent American history such as the My Lai Massacre, the Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal and the whistleblowing of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden in order to demonstrate the treatment given to those who follow orders as opposed to those who follow their own conscience. It stresses the importance of individual action for positive change and asks students to think for themselves especially with regards to the legitimacy of another person’s authority. The lesson also includes essential questions and links to all materials referenced. The teacher is free to modify the lesson in any manner that facilitates its use in the classroom. (This product has been very successfully classroom tested)

Following orders, Nuremberg Trials, Abu Ghraib, My Lai, authority, conscience, War on Terror, fascism, democracy, liberty, individual, Vietnam War, Iraq

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Total Pages
7 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
90 minutes
Report this Resource
  • Comments & Ratings
  • Product Q & A
Digital Download
Digital Download
Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers is an online marketplace where teachers buy and sell original educational materials.

Learn More

Keep in Touch!

Sign up