Activity Overview

There are several themes in the poem "First They Came". Niemoller wrote these words after being liberated from Nazi concentration camps after 7 years. His words are routed deep in meaning and sincerity. For this activity, students will choose a theme and illustrate and explain it in a single storyboard cell. Teachers may choose to have students illustrate more than one theme in the same storyboard, and they can use the template provided and add cells, or use a spider map layout instead.

Examples of Themes in "First They Came"

Guilt: Niemoller felt extreme guilt for his previous anti-Semitic beliefs. He is talking about himself in this poem.

Repentance: This poem is Niemoller’s way of expressing deep remorse for the mistreatment of the Jews.

Personal Responsibility: Niemoller is taking responsibility for the part that he played in looking the other way and saying nothing.

Persecution: Niemoller names the groups of people who were persecuted and mistreated because of their beliefs.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Choose one theme of “First They Came” and illustrate and explain it.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the header, write the theme that you have chosen.
  3. In the description, write a few sentences describing the importance of meaning of the theme pertaining to the poem.
  4. Illustrate an example of the theme using appropriate images, scenes, and characters.
  5. Save and submit storyboard.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Themes, Symbols & Motifs

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/2] Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments

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First They Came

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