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History acquired based on biographies

Christoph Schwarz spent two days at the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen researching the fates of 60 Polish children. The educator from Freiburg is using their life stories as material for his history lessons. “I would like my students to learn about National Socialism using a different approach.  My experience has shown me that adolescents are better able to deal with the topic when they acquire history based on biographies.”

Schwarz chose a school which was near Freiburg, in Achern, as the main topic. The Polish children were kidnapped and brought there to experience an upbringing in the “German race” because of their “Aryan” features. These adolescents were then usually adopted by childless Nazi families. “In my opinion, the regional connection to the topic is very important.  It shows that persecution began in the house next door and not in the concentration camps.  Even more importantly, it affected children and adolescents.”

The Freiburg resident examined documents, children´s files and correspondence files at the ITS. “The students and I will work together to produce great results with the impressive material from Arolsen,” said Schwarz. “They will present the biographies in an exhibition and I will be bringing out a publication on the topic.”