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Pupils’ Project on the Holocaust

Eight pupils of the “Christian Rauch” secondary school at Bad Arolsen have spent a project week at the International Tracing Service (ITS). Their main topic was the “Organisation of the Holocaust”. The concrete subjects they attended to were the deportation and expropriation of the Jews and survival after the Holocaust. “The pupils have taken an intensive look at the subject”, said ITS historian Dr Susanne Urban. “They not only analysed the documents, but also expressed empathy with the victims.”

The objective of the project week was to make the young students realize the Holocaust in both its dimension and brutality by having them do research in the ITS databank and evaluate the documents on their own. Thus, the pupils examined for instance the records on the “Aryanization” of the German society by means of the deportation of Jews and documents on “Aktion Reinhardt”, a campaign which ended – between July 1942 and October 1943 – in the deportation of over two million Jews and about 50,000 Roma from occupied Poland to the extermination camps. “The Nazis have cold-heartedly recorded what they did to the Jews. They treated them like things, like objects”, observed pupil Alexander Klaus. “It is quite obvious that emotions were of no value at the time.”

The pupils learned to connect the general orders given and registrations made by the National Socialists with individuals’ fates, i.e. to view things in their context. “History is reflected in people’s lives”, pupil Maria Leis has realized. The students had an animated discussion on how the survivors’ situation appeared to be after 1945, on why Jewish displaced persons left Germany after persecution and on how the numbers of Jewish communities’ members had changed taking the Düsseldorf community as an example.