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A new travelling exhibition and educational project of the Education and Culture of the Jewish Museum in Prague contains 20 display panels featuring the stories of six children who were persecuted during the Second World War because of their race.
The aim of the exhibition is to familiarize elementary and high school students with the difficult topic of the Holocaust and to introduce them to the Jewish minority by presenting the material in an attractive way. It shows various aspects of the life of Jews in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia from the perspective of the young people of the day. The accompanying programmes and materials enable them to actively learn about the issues. The entire project can be incorporated into classes in history, social science, art and aesthetics. Another advantage for teachers is the fact that the exhibition also covers several cross-sectional topics as defined by the Framework Educational Programme for Elementary and High Schools (in particular, Multicultural Education and Education for the Democratic Citizen).
The exhibition focuses on the specific fate of individual Jewish children and families. We feel that describing the stories of individual persons is much more beneficial to an understanding of the past than simply listing facts, numbers and dates. The personal stories provide the viewer with a key to the events in Czechoslovakia before and during the war.
In order to actually convey the subject-matter through the eyes of children, the exhibition showcases authentic materials, many of which were made by children themselves: diary excerpts, letters, children’s drawings from Terezín, children’s magazines, photographs of children, newspapers of the day, and other pictorial and printed documents. Testimonies from contemporaries will enable pupils and students to better empathize with the events of the 1930s, the Second World War and, in particular, the situation of the persecuted Jewish minority. The first display panel will draw young visitors into the story of six students from the 1930s, who are depicted not as wretched, destiny-stricken Jews but as completely ordinary children who lived happy lives with their families and friends before the war.
On other panels, the fate of the children and their families during the war is developed against the backdrop of wartime events. These “children” have been chosen as their stories cover a whole range of events and give a comprehensive picture of the situation of the Jews during the war (they include, for example, a hidden child, a Winton child and a child of half-Jewish descent). In the accompanying programme, participants will focus on the exhibition in groups, each following a certain child’s fate and in the end comparing their stories. Working separately in this way will help pupils and students understand that the war and the Holocaust process are not only historical facts but also involve stories of individual people. Young people will no longer see these events in black and white and will realize that people like themselves were both victims and instigators, as opposed to it being a question of abstract, impersonal history.
Special attention is devoted to various aspects of the life of children in the Terezín ghetto and in the Auschwitz death camp. The exhibition does not close with the end of the war, as it also reflects upon the post-war lives of Jews, their return either from concentration camps or from abroad. The last display panel is devoted to the post-war and current lives of our six “children”.
This has been conceived as a travelling exhibition.
20 panels, 130 x 130 cm on display stands
Education and Culture Centre of the Jewish Museum in Prague
Maiselova 15, 110 00 Prague 1, Czech Republic
tel: (+420) 224 814 926, (+420) 222 325 172