This final exam project culminates a semester of study and storytelling about Jewish life in Central Europe and the Holocaust that started with students presenting their own stories in picture collages, viewing Centropa films, and now creating films about Holocaust survivors. Using Centropa’s database, students choose one Centropa interviewee to research, reading the entire interview, viewing all of their photographs, reading Study Guide articles for historical context and other background.
This is a history project but because we want our students ultimately to teach each other, we started with an introductory video conference during which students asked each other questions and learned a little about one another. Students will then choose a biography from the Centropa website to read and study, as an example of what life was like for someone in a Central or Eastern European country during WWII.
Students bring in a family photograph they like. This can be from a vacation, a holiday celebration, a family life cycle event, any photograph that includes the student. In class, students look through the Centropa database to find a photograph that looks similar to the one they brought in – people might be posed similarly to the people in their picture, or doing the same thing, etc. Then they read about that photograph, as well as the Centropa interview to find out about the life of that survivor.
Students are each given a short, multimedia film from Centropa to watch. As they watch – they may need to watch it more than once – they are to write down words that important to the story: events (e.g., Kristallnacht), values (e.g., loyalty), or anything important to the person whose story they are watching (e.g., a violin, sports, family). Once they are clear about the story, they go to the Wordle website (http://www.wordle.net) and make a word cloud that accurately represents the story they watched.
Students in my class and Melanie Shaul’s class in Hadera, Israel, read the autobiography of Dr. Richard Bugajer, My Shadowlife. Melanie and I met his widow in Vienna, on a Centropa summer trip, where we designed this project. Each class read the entire book and then made PowerPoint presentations about each chapter – and then sent their presentations to each other to see how students in another country would understand the same story.
The class watched Centropa’s film Love on a Paper Airplane as an introduction to the love story of Judit Kinszki’s parents, and the early modern photography of Imre Kinszki (Judit’s father). We then explored the images in Kinszki’s work and examined what made them modern and how they were characteristic of modern photography and art in Europe in the early 20th century.
This project is a student museum about Czech Jewry. Students research the lives of Czechoslovakian Jews between World War One and World War Two. The Museum consists of panels dedicated to individual Czech Jews exploring one aspect of their lives; video of individual Czech Jews; historical context of both Jewish life in Czechoslovakia and of the country itself; an exhibit on personal family histories, ambience exhibits. This exhibit was open to the public, and invitations were sent out for a special gala evening for the opening of the exhibit for the entire school community.
This lesson assists students in appreciating the contours of modern Jewish history. Using a Centropa film, students synthesize their learning from film, oral history interview, and standard history textbooks.
Here is the lesson plan: Understanding Jewish Life in Europe Beyond the Periods of Catastrophe
The interactive film scripts combine the scripts of the Centropa Films with the links metioned in the Study Guides, thus marking various historical, cultural and geographical references.
You can use the film scripts in your class in order to understand the film better and help students to dig deeper in the (personal) stories by exploring history.
The film scripts are available in English and German and can be downloaded as PDF documents.