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America and World Fascism: From the Spanish Civil War to Nuremberg and Beyond

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collage of photos and posters, primary sources for the course
Fri, 04/03/2020


What is fascism? Where did it come from? How does it impact human rights? How did ideology shape the Spanish Civil War (the setting for the Ernest Hemingway novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls) and WWII? What legacies did those wars pass on in the decades since–in Spain, the U.S., Europe, and globally? 

For a century the world has experienced ideological–and actual–war between fascism and democratic-republicanism, anarchism, communism, and socialism. Three years before World War II, idealistic Americans fought in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade beside Spain's government against General Franco's fascist rebels. Examine the history of world fascism from its peak in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and WWII in Europe (1939-1945) through the Nuremberg Trials (1945-1946) to today.

Study and discuss the impact of fascist thought and action on human rights through that decade of war, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Consider the post-WWII era, with effects that reach into neo-Nazi, White Supremacist, and other present-day far-right movements in Europe, America, and around the globe that propagate nativism, xenophobia, nationalism, and hate. How does the study of history help us understand these movements? To what extent are we witnessing a return of fascism as it emerged in the first half of the twentieth century? What is different today? And what can we learn from the past eighty years of antifascist struggle?

Participants will:

  • Delve into a compelling mix of primary sources: letters, propaganda posters, photographs, film, literature, and including trial documents and laws
  • Experience hands-on, inquiry-based activities to engage students with this powerful political and philosophical subject
  • Utilize practical tools to facilitate classroom discussion and student analysis of controversial topics and of bias
  • Trace links throughout U.S. and World History, Civics and Government, with a particular focus on Spanish language and culture (around the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath)
  • Create Common Core-aligned activities to engage students with this unique and compelling era and its enormous impact
  • Learn powerful strategies to teach content and literacy

This workshop is offered in English with Spanish language breakout sessions and features resources and free curriculum from: the Library of Congress and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.

Audience and Grade Level

Social Studies Teachers, and Spanish and other World Language Teachers, Grades 4-12


22.5 PDPs or 1 graduate credit will be awarded to participants upon completion of this training. Graduate credit is available through Westfield State University at an additional cost of $125. Graduate credit registration and payment occurs at the first section meeting, and payment can be made by credit card or check at that time.

Date and Location

April 3 and 4, 2020, 8:30am - 3:30pm at Melrose High School.

**Melrose Public Schools may attend the training for free. Please use the code Melrose2020 when registering.

Cost and Registration

The cost of the training is $40. Lunch will be provided. Training cost is reduced thanks to support from the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Program.

Registration Deadline: March 27

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