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Teachers devoted themselves to the subject of “Displaced Persons (DPs)”

In cooperation with the teacher training college of the “Gemeinschaft Evangelischer Erzieher GEE” (Community of Protestant educators), the “Jüdisches Museum Westfalen“ (Jewish Museum Westphalia), the “Kinderlehrhaus zur Förderung des interreligiösen und interkulturellen Lernens e.V.” (Children’s school for the encouragement of interreligious and intercultural learning), the Protestant church district Recklinghausen, the “Gesellschaft für Christlich-Jüdische Zusammenarbeit Recklinghausen e.V.” (Society for Christian-Jewish cooperation in Recklinghausen) and the International Tracing Service (ITS) Bad Arolsen, a training course under the title “Displaced Persons after 1945: intermediate life in transit“ took place in Dorsten, North Rhine-Westphalia, at the end of February 2014. 17 teachers, not only from schools, but also from other forms of non-formal education, tried to get an impression of the situation and the lives of Jewish survivors, in order to find and discuss didactic approaches.

For most of the teachers, the subject was new in its complexity; for this reason, aspects of multiple perspectives like the maintenance of the Displaced Persons (DPs) by the Allies, the repatriation, the situation of surviving children, or the emigration efforts of surviving Jews were discussed, based on the individual combination of fields, types of schools and pedagogical needs. Questions relating to options for action on the part of the Allies and survivors, to the triangle of relationships between Allies, DPs and Germans, to the courage of the Holocaust survivors to face life, or to identities got into the focus of attention again and again.

“The subject of DPs offers an incredible number of different aspects. The files of the ITS, especially the questionnaires reflecting the stories of the DPs, are valuable teaching materials. From the point of view of methodology, the change of perspective would seem the best thing to do,” Claudio Mileti, teacher at a Gymnasium (German academic high school) observed. Josef Ranker, teacher at a Hauptschule (German school of lower secondary education), emphasized that documents had to move emotionally. Stories of real people were necessary to tell about and to teach history. The day in Dorsten was rounded off with a lecture by Dr. Susanne Urban, Head of Research and Education at the ITS, delivered at the Jewish Museum Westphalia. 30 guests took an interest in the fates of Jewish survivors and in the document collections in the archives of the ITS.