The website "Learning from History" is a publication platform
for educational projects (realized in schools
and in out-of-school, youth education)
dedicated to the history of Poland and its neighbors in the 20th century and human rights
Children from the photos… Polish, Gypsy and Jews
Location / Region: Oświęcim
Institution: MIFGASH Foundation
Patron / Project supervision: MDSM in Oświęcim, Auschwitz Birkenau Museum
Project authors: Katarzyna Odrzywołek, MIFGASH Foundation
Age group: High school
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mgr Katarzyna Odrzywołek
MIFGASH Foundation
509 845 105 

Introductory remarks

The Learning Module (LM) was prepared during the Transnational Training Programme in Oświęcim, Bergen Belsen and Russian Perm. The author wanted to interlink the following in the Module: role of history, memorial sites and children rights. The LM should be implemented at the Auschwitz Birkenau Museum not only due to the fact that it is near the place of work of the MIFGASH Foundation (Cracow), but also on account of its uniqueness and educational possibilities. Auschwitz, as most memorial sites, focuses mainly at providing historical knowledge. Such a mission belongs to the tasks of qualified tour guides which are fulfilled by them professionally. The author of the LM had decided that the project would exploit their knowledge in combination with education within children rights. The final version of the LM can be downloaded here.

The inspiration for the subject whose main aspect was Holocaust and children rights was taken from the article by Monique Ekcmann. This well-known Swiss sociologist and professor cautions in her article titled Exploring the relevance of Holocaust education for human rights education against over-interpretation of the events, moralisation and patronising which may lead to ostracism of individuals and groups.

The postulates presented by KARTA concerning the combination of historical education with education within human rights emphasise some critical aspects which were included in the Learning Module. Firstly, the approached history and human rights were equally providing examples to students of violating children rights 60 years ago and now. Thus, the subject was not limited to the historical area only and the educator demonstrated to students that it is possible to discover many references to contemporary times in history by application of comparative methods, e.g.: children work in Auschwitz - children slave labour in China. 

Furthermore, the activities consisting in combining history and human rights demonstrate the human aspect of history, its micro aspect which for a prospective addressee, in this case a student, is far more interesting than its macro image frequently associated with the traditional teaching system, namely “date – event”. It also appeared necessary to the author of the LM to encourage students to take the initiative outside classes; hence, a task assigned to the project participants who will become young ambassadors of human rights in their own local communities through organisation of the International Day of Children Rights. 

Presumably, this will be an excellent opportunity for the school, including the pedagogical staff, to remind students not only of their obligations, but also their rights which young people frequently are not aware of. Owing to the creativity and work of those participating in the project yet another postulate presented by KARTA concerning educating at the local level will be implemented.

A person conducting the workshop ought to pay special attention to the manner of combining the section on human rights and the section on history. The students' understanding of the essence of human rights in their own lives will form a basis for this activity. The introduction to the historical section and to the visit to the memorial site, which is highly emotional, ought to be carried out according to the well-thought plan. A teacher ought to pay special attention to the section concerning creating the albums of children from Auschiwtz - before and after the war. The “pretended adoption” practice may lead to strong empathy among students towards the victims.

Time frame
The assumed time frames of the project are feasible; it is one studio day of intense work of 8 hours. The project may be divided into two days. Then, on the first day students participate in the studio visit in Auschwitz Birkenau Museum. In the evening, there will be an introduction to the human rights theme. The other day is then devoted to the implementation of the proper section of the project.

Individual work and group work are main teaching methods. Students, most time, carry out an individual analysis of the material assigned. They also participate in the brain storming, role-play detectives which must work in teams in an organised and well-though manner in order to obtain information and material. The work of the students on the analysis of examples of contemporary violation of children rights is similar to the above; the entire group familiarises with the documentary material, works on it and then presents it in the forum. The task of every student within the project will be organising the Day of Human Rights Protection.

It was necessary to select the materials appropriately in order to enable effective work of the students. Every worksheet: a photo, a document or a popular science article ought to be understandable and legible for the reader - it will form a basis for further work of the student. The time anticipated in the project for reading the materials is feasible; nevertheless, one must consider the flexibility and necessity of introducing unforeseen changes in the process of implementation.

The final version of the LM will be uploaded here soon.

Red. Agnieszka Kudełka

Learning Module - Children from the photos… Poles, Gypsies and Jews

Didactic text

The most important aims are as follows: presenting students with the meaning of war in the child life, the process of minority persecution by Nazists during the II World War and visit to the memorial site. The chosen themes will be demonstrated to the young man in an uncomplicated manner and, as a result of the activation process, they will be acquired with interest. Moreover, the youth, ...

Totalitarian regimes
Persecution of Jews
Ghettos and Holocaust