Operation Bernhard Curriculum

The history of World War II and the Holocaust is vast and can be daunting for students trying to approach this subject for the first time, or even dozenth time. We seek to help students find new and different starting points into this area of study by providing them with introductory curriculums. The focus of this particular curriculum is the story of Operation Bernhard.

Operation Bernhard was a secret Nazi plot designed to destroy Britain’s economy by forging British bank notes. The Nazis forced Jewish prisoners sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp to undertake this operation, eventually using the counterfeit money to fund their own war effort.

This captivating facet of history was relatively unknown until the 2007 Academy Award-winning film, The Counterfeiters, which tells the story of Operation Bernhard.

This curriculum was written by Barbara Daniel for the Florence and Laurence Spungen Family Foundation, to be used by students and teachers alike. You can view, download, and print the curriculum below.

For teachers upon request, genuine and counterfeit Bank of England notes are available as a teaching tool on a temporary loan basis.

If you have any questions or would like to inquire about artifacts available for classroom loan, please contact Mikayla Hoppe at: mikayla@spungenfoundation.org.


Curriculum Guidelines:

This guide can be used as a standalone curriculum by students with access to the internet, who are self-directed enough to follow up the various questions. It can also be used as a student workbook, directed by the teacher as an introduction to a guest speaker on the topic, or as a lesson on this interesting subject.

The National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies states:

“The aim of social studies is the promotion of civic competence—the knowledge, intellectual processes, and democratic dispositions required of students to be active and engaged participants in public life. By making civic competence a central aim, NCSS emphasizes the importance of educating students who are committed to the ideas and values of democracy. Civic competence rests on this commitment to democratic values, and requires that citizens have the ability to use their knowledge about their community, nation, and world; to apply inquiry processes; and to employ skills of data collection and analysis, collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Young people who are knowledgeable, skillful, and committed to democracy are necessary to sustaining and improving our democratic way of life, and participating as members of a global community.”