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New teaching resource on children and youth as victims of Nazi persecution

The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen has introduced a new teaching resource on the topic of children and youth persecuted by the Nazi regime. The teaching materials (available in German only) entitled "I am alone among strangers" contain biographies from different victim groups, among them Jewish and Sinti children, children of forced labourers, and Germanised "Lebensborn" children. "With presenting these individual fates we hope to reach peer groups and students from multi-ethnic backgrounds and to inspire empathy as well as curiosity about this subject", said Dr Susanne Urban, head of research and education at the ITS. "We are not focusing on mere facts, but want to present individual stories. Young people need a link to history and to experiences which create empathy and ability to understand the victims’ fates."

As yet unpublished narratives of survivors who migrated to many different countries after the war were also included. One of these accounts is the diary of David Liss who, as a 16-year-old, was saved being put on a child transport to northern Ireland in 1939. "The diary's sober language in particular, its moving and forceful tone, bears witness to the daily life and the inner turmoil of a young adolescent in enforced exile - to his own uncertain future, to the worries about his parents in the Warsaw Ghetto and the search for his own identity", said Markus Roth, acting director of the research unit Arbeitsstelle Holocaustliteratur (research unit for Holocaust Literature) at the Justus-Liebig-University in Giessen.

The teaching resource is suitable for young people between the ages of twelve and eighteen. It can be included in regular lessons or used as a project running over several days. The teaching materials for schools and educational facilities are available on CD-Rom for a charge of ten Euro. An order form is available on the website.

The 30 million documents held in the archives of the ITS are a unique resource for educational purposes, Urban pointed out. The teaching materials are mainly drawn from the documents of the Child Tracing Service, which searched for relatives of surviving children and youth after the end of the Second World War. The materials are divided into four parts, and include an introduction and an appendix with a time line, a collection of documents, a glossary and links to literature, film and the internet. The materials also reflect on how this topic is dealt with at present in regard to compensation and human rights issues. "The wide range of materials illustrate the insanity of race ideology, from the care and support provided in 'Lebensborn' homes to the destruction of life in concentration camps and through forced labour", Urban said. "Given the many disturbing historical elements, we also included encouraging aspects about people who helped victims, or about the new lives of survivors. This can contribute to an education that promotes civil courage and advocates social and political responsibility of the individual."