One-Day Excursion of Kassel Herder School
Final class pupils of Kassel Herder School enrolled for a bilingual basic course in history undertook a one-day excursion to the archive of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen on 14 June 2012. After listening to an introductory lecture on the history of the ITS and viewing a clip from a 1946 movie, the 18 pupils searched the database of the ITS for information on the persecution routes of adolescent Holocaust survivors. “It was an instructive day that was more than worthwhile - carefully and individually prepared by the ITS”, was the conclusion of teacher Axel Wunderlich.
The pupils studied the records left from ghettos and concentration camps and looked into the files of the child-tracing service giving details on the search for relatives and including first statements of the children and adolescents on what they had gone through. As a consequence of the persecution they had to endure in ghettos and concentration camps, many of the children and young adults were severely traumatized. Often times they had lost their parents and relatives. “The very few pages we see here in front of us sum up the whole life of a young individual”, pupil Johanna gave her opinion.
The pupils learned how painstaking the search for relatives and for a new home for the survivors was. Astonished were the pupils by the changes of the borderlines and nationalities, by the wide variety of the places where persecution took place, and by the abundance of institutions involved in the persecution and in the help after the war. “There is such an incredible wealth of files in the ITS archives. And every file has a fate behind it. I have been sincerely moved by that”, stated Till. The school graduates to-be were curious to know who takes an interest in the documents today and which types of requests are sent to the ITS.
“I am impressed by the quantity of information the pupils have dug out from the documents and by the rapidity of their comprehending our database“, Dr Susanne Urban, Head of the Department for Research and Education at the ITS, expressed. The one or the other pupil would have preferred spending more time at the ITS. “Unfortunately, time ran out when we had just got involved in the search processes”, said Anna. “If one considers that the ITS has started its educational activities only recently, the staff do pioneering work in the true sense of the word“, teacher Wunderlich remarked. “This dedication cannot simply be taken for granted, and it is great to come here and see it.”