This April 5, 1951, Universal Newsreel reports on the death penalty for Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.
Following World War II, tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States increased. As the Cold War began, the spread of communism and Soviet influence in places like China and North Korea concerned leaders in the United States. Additionally, the Soviet development of the atomic bomb and the discovery of spies in the US helping them led to an intense fear of communism within the United States. This led to investigations of communists and suspected communists in the Unites States. This lesson includes events such as the Rosenberg trials, blacklisting in Hollywood and the rise and decline of McCarthyism. Student should have a basic understanding of the early events during the Cold War prior to this lesson.
Have the students answer the following question before beginning the lesson.
Review the students' responses and correct any misconceptions about the Cold War and communism. Ensure that the students understand the following vocabulary terms and concepts before
Have the students view each of the video and answer the questions below and on the Red Scare and McCarthyism handout.
Video Clip: The Rosenberg Trial (1:17)
Video Clip: The Red Scare and Nuclear Scientists (3:06)
Video Clip: Hollywood and the House Un-American Activities Committee (3:59)
Video Clip: The Historical Background of McCarthyism (2:59)
Video Clip: Senator Joe McCarthy's "Enemies from Within" Speech (3:33)
Video Clip: ACLU Co-Founder Arthur Garfield Hays on McCarthyism (2:18)
Video Clip: McCarthy and the Senate Hearings (5:32)
APPLICATION AND ASSESSMENT:
After reviewing the students' answers, have the students debate or write a written response to the following prompt.
Witch-Hunts- Use the following Merriam-Webster definition of a "Witch-Hunt:" "The searching out and deliberate harassment of those (such as political opponents) with unpopular views."
Modern-Day Comparisons- Research recent events and actions that have been described as witch-hunts. Compare those actions to the Red Scare and McCarthyism.
Additional Writing Prompts-
In this lesson, students will learn about the major events during the Cold War, the causes of these events, and their impact on the U.S., Soviet Union, and the world.
In this lesson, students will learn about the causes, significance, and legacy of the Korean War.
Political Cartoonist Herb Block discusses the political cartoons he created on McCarthyism.