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Activities for Community Groups: Survivors, Liberation and Rebuilding Lives
These activities are designed to be introduced by youth workers and other leaders of children's and young people's groups. They can be used as part of learning activities, drama presentations and community work.
These activities draw on story extracts from the Archive. Story extract titles appear in bold in the activities below, eg A Child Remembers the Outbreak of War. These extracts can be found on the Story Extracts page.
Print out sets of the extracts 'Ich Habe Kranke!' (I Am Sick!), Letter from Lubeck: After Belsen, D-Day and Belsen Concentration Camp and The Liberation of Belsen Concentration Camp from the Story Extracts page.
Read the extracts out loud with the group of young people, then discuss the questions below, and be prepared to answer any other questions raised.
On reading through again, ask the young people to use highlighter pens to pick out phrases that indicate that:
Points to highlight
The Liberation of Belsen Concentration Camp
D-Day and Belsen Concentration Camp
Letter from Lubeck: After Belsen
'I could go on, but to describe the place properly would demand great detail. Let me say simply that Belsen is the most horrible thing I have seen and I hope that we shall see this thing can never happen again. I cannot help feeling that we bear a share of responsibility for these happenings. Remember the complacencies of the pre-war years?'
'The job of helping to clean up the mess was perhaps the best job we have done since we came out here; certainly our most constructive job. It was very interesting and many-sided. One little job BHQ had to do was to mass-produce about 100 babies' cots! I had to switch the equipment repairer from mending vehicle canopies to producing little mattresses for these cots!'
Split the young people into groups of four, and ask them to discuss the following questions.
For the final question you could mention the UN, the Red Cross and/or Red Crescent, and Médecins Sans Frontières.
Still in small groups, use the internet to look up details about international aid agencies, and link to the humanitarian disasters they are dealing with in today's society. The young people could email or write to the organisations, and arrange for a speaker to visit them. The groups could then plan fundraising activities to help the organisations that interest them the most.
Write the word 'Refuge' on a board / large sheet of paper. Ask the young people to write other words around it to show what it means. As a group, discuss the words, in order to create a definition of 'refuge'. Split the group into pairs, and ask them to discuss what the word 'refugee' means. Then discuss as a whole group how the two words are linked.
Discuss the reasons why people become refugees and come to live in the UK. Make a list on the board. Discuss which of these reasons might have been more prominent in World War Two.
Split the young people into groups of four. Read the extract Fleeing from East Germany to England on the Story Extracts page.
Ask the groups to discuss the questions in the task sheet below.
Feedback and discuss as a class. Explain about the Kindertransport - see note below.
In November 1938, following the night known as Kristallnacht ('night of broken glass'), during which there were many brutal attacks on Jewish homes across Germany, British refugee organisations persuaded the British Government to permit German Jewish children under 17 to come, temporarily, to Britain. Each child's keep, education and eventual emigration had to be paid for by private individuals. In return, the Government agreed to permit refugee children to enter the country on travel visas. Parents were not allowed to accompany their children. Between December 1938 and September 1939, when war began, the Kindertransport ('child transport') trains brought around 10,000 children to Britain. Many would never see their parents again.
Discuss the problems that the child refugees faced - for example, separation from their parents, language problems and past persecution that continued to haunt them in the present.
Split the young people into groups of four. Ask each group to prepare a guide to help people to understand how difficult it is to be a refugee, and be prepared for misunderstandings that could arise. They should use the problems that they identified that refugees face and attempt to think of solutions for them. These could then be updated to produce leaflets to help modern-day refugees.
Split the young people into new groups, and ask them to begin to create a Charter for Tolerance and Peace by listing the things they can do to ensure that society remembers, and learns from, the past. They should write these ideas on large sheets of paper, which could be displayed on the wall where your group meets.
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