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Advanced training program for educators

Participants of the seminar researched in the ITS database.

An advanced training program for educators and church representatives of the Christian-Jewish Conversation of the Evangelical Church in Rhineland took place on the 3rd of June, 2013 at the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen. The subject of the event was "Deportations: Deported, stakeholders, perpetrators." The goal was the development of ideas for educational work. “It is wonderful when we are able to discuss the meaningful use of the documents from the ITS archive in lessons with the teachers,” said Dr. Susanne Urban, head of research and education at the ITS.

Along with an introduction to the history and responsibilities of the institution, the educational plan of the ITS and training aids were presented within the scope of the one-day seminar. The participants also had the opportunity to carry out their own searches in the digital database. “The mass of documents is striking,” expressed Jörg Schürmann from Recklinghausen. “But with the database, I managed it well. It is remarkable what can be done, even if I miss the smell and feel of the archives a little.”

The educators were above all fascinated by the images of the people conveyed by the documents.  “The language is quite frightening, to some extent,” according to Schürmann. “As if the person is considered clearly to be a usable object.” They were also struck by the broad question of national identity across the multitudes of displaced persons (DPs). “This could lead to interesting discussions on the topic of immigration,” said Siegfried Virgils from Bonn. “We could easily throw out the accepted definition of nationality and say, ‘Everyone has the right to decide who he is for himself.’”

Good lesson preparation and evaluation are necessary for school projects with the ITS, agreed the seminar participants. “We need to address the issue and allow an exchange. We cannot leave the schoolchildren alone with these documents“, believed Schürmann. A previous visit to the ITS by the teachers is always advisable.

Stefan Hössl of the University of Cologne can imagine a student project which more closely lights up the future perspectives of the DPs: “How did those who survived the Shoah – after all the practiced trauma and loss – again develop outlooks for the future?  What roles did learning and education play in the DP camps? What meaning did this have in the context of the idea and the project about Zionism and hope in a Jewish state?” There is little available information to answer these questions.

The seminar was organized in cooperation with the Children’s Learning House for the Promotion of Interreligious and Intercultural Learning Inc, the Inter-synodal Research Group of Christians and Jews (ISAK-Center) and the Pedagogical Academy of the Community of Protestant educators (GEE). “It is always impressive how many suggestions I get here,” said Gerda Koch, Project Manager at GEE. “We want to continue to work together and come next time with a group of history teachers.”