CSA image

 

Oct 2004 Journal

previous article:A game of (dire - if unintended) consequences
next article:'German-Jewish Refugees around the World': A Berlin Jewish Museum project

Recreation of Kindertransport journey planned for young children at Beth Shalom

Plans are well advanced at the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottinghamshire for the creation of a new exhibition narrating the story of the 10,000 children of the Kindertransport. Aimed at primary school children, this unique 'Primary Learning Centre', which, it is hoped, will open in autumn next year, may well be the largest permanent exhibition of its kind.

To be called The Journey, the project will teach children of primary school age with sensitivity, as well as other young people and the wider community. The exhibition will also house an accessible archive of original items brought with them by the children of the Kindertransport and will offer recordings of their testimonies describing their journeys out of Nazi-dominated Europe, their arrival in Britain, and their subsequent lives.

Through a series of themed, interactive rooms, The Journey will give today's children an opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the Kinder, from their enjoyment of everyday family life to their flight, leaving their parents behind. The young visitor will sense the disorientation felt by the Kinder as he or she participates in a recreation of a typical journey. One section of the exhibition will depict a train station and the moment of departure. Visitors will be encouraged to reflect on the emotions felt by the Kinder as they faced the trauma of separation, the decision on what could be taken, and the sense of a lonely journey into the unknown. From stepping on to a train, through to a 'new home', the exhibition will portray an environment in which language and everyday activities are alien.

'Holocaust education for primary school children has long been a focus of debate', commented Beth Shalom founder Dr Stephen Smith. 'The challenge is how to engage younger children constructively with some of the very demanding implications of the Holocaust without confronting them with the full horror of the concentration camps. We talk about the teenage years as the formative years, but by 12 or 13, patterns of behaviour can already be deeply embedded. If through this we can help younger children to empathise, to think outside themselves, and to have respect and understanding for others, that lays a valuable foundation - for them and for the future well-being of society.'

The Journey will also provide an opportunity for the young visitor to talk to a Kindertransportee who will accompany him or her through the exhibition. 'It is vital that schoolchildren learn from this to combat racism', said Steven Mendelsson, who escaped with the Kindertransport as a teenager in 1939.
Steve Robinson

previous article:A game of (dire - if unintended) consequences
next article:'German-Jewish Refugees around the World': A Berlin Jewish Museum project