Information, Emotion, and Impact: Choosing Methods to Achieve Goals


Group 1: What choices did Niemöller face during the Nazi period, according to this quotation?
What groups did Niemöller think of first, when telling this story?
What groups did Niemöller include when he pared the story down into a pithy poem?
When people recite the poem, why do they choose certain versions?
Is it appropriate to rewrite this poem in contemporary versions?
Are some versions appropriate, others not? And if not, why not?

Group 2: What changes were made to the Dachau concentration camp after World War II?
How might the different uses and appearances of the former camp affect visitors of the site?
What effects on visitors might the people changing the site have been trying to achieve?
What effect should a visit to the former Dachau camp have on someone?
How might that effect best be achieved?

Group 3: What choices did Rudolf Höss make that led to him becoming one of the greatest mass murders in all of history?
Why did he make those choices?
How did he view those choices—did he see them as choices at all?
What did he choose to tell and advise his wife and children in his parting letters?
Are those messages different from the ones he put in his "final thoughts," written for us, posterity in general?

Group 4: US presidential speeches in foreign countries can be important symbolic acts.
What information was each president trying to convey?
What were his goals?
What words, information, and references did each use to achieve those goals?
Which speeches were effective in achieving those goals?

Questions for all groups:

How much do these sources appeal to emotion to have an impact on their audiences?

To what extent do these sources use information to have an impact on their audiences?

To what extent can historical sources speak for themselves, without comment or interpretation?

What role does the context (or physical setting) have on the effectiveness of the source at achieving a certain goal?

Can we misuse a historical text or artifact?
To what extent should we preserve the original intention of an author or creation, and to what extent can we modify it?
How can we know an author’s original intent? What if we want to negate that original intent?