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ITS introduces Educational Concept

Today the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen introduced a pedagogic concept for collaboration with schools, universities and other educational institutions. “In taking this step, ITS is writing a new chapter,” said Dr Susanne Urban, head of the research department at ITS. “We feel committed to the task of conveying the relevance of the documents in our archives to the general public and to younger generations.”

ITS’s educational work will span school projects, university seminars, workshops and lectures. Materials shall be prepared for different school classes, as well as for extracurricular training. ITS also wants to offer courses and materials for special professional groups like police officers, soldiers or legal practitioners. “The document inventory at ITS will be an integral and unique part of our educational work,” noted Urban. “Given our limited human resources of course, we’ll have to begin modestly. We do have a solid basis for the long-term development of our educational work with this pedagogic concept though.”

The concept emanates from three central elements: the biographies of Nazi victims, the portrayal of perpetrators and bystanders and - linked to this – the options of acting which broach the subjects of the opposition, helpers and rescuers. “Examining individual fates ultimately leads to a sense of your own responsibility,” explained Urban. “It’s a matter of identifying signs of hate and exclusion in our society today and stemming them.” Pupils should learn to appreciate and respect themselves and others alike. “We want to develop a clear course for learning about National Socialism in order to link responsibility for the past and empathy with the people persecuted back then with forward-thinking action.”

The educational work of ITS is also oriented on the principles of the International School for Holocaust Studies in Yad Vashem. “However, we cover a larger thematic scope here at ITS. Our special collection of documents allows us to account for all groups of victims and, in particular, the post-war situation of displaced persons,” explained Urban. “In such, we’ve expanded their concept and adapted it to our needs.”

As a start, intensive collaborative efforts are mainly being planned with local schools such as the Christian Rauch School in Bad Arolsen. One of the tenth classes there will pursue the subject of the organisation of the Holocaust. Eighth year pupils are planning a research project on the fate of Sally Perel, author of the autobiography ‘Ich war Hitlerjunge Salomon’ (I’ve been Hitlerjunge Salomon’). “In addition to smaller projects, at least one basic or advanced course at the upper school level should start an intensive research project each year,” said the head of the history department at the Christian Rauch School, Andreas Erdmann. “We need emotional, self-identifying, action-based lessons. The ITS archives hold unique sources right at our very doorstep.”

The first project in the area of teacher training has also been arranged with the University of Kassel. Over the 2010/11 winter term and 2011 summer term, student teachers will be examining the work of the child search branch within the scope of a project seminar. “The objective is to develop materials for interdisciplinary teaching. They should then be made available to schools,” explained Andreas Neuwoehner from the Department of Educational Science at the University of Kassel. “ITS not only has a special inventory of files, but it also gives us the necessary help with research and document assessment.”