„Nowhere to go.“ Jewish refugees 1938-1939.

Core features of the practice

  • Organisation:

    Institution name: Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference
    Institution URL: ghwk.de
  • Format:

    Instructional material
  • Target population:

  • Cost (per practice):

  • Setting:

  • Themes:

    Remembrance education and/or history education, Human rights/discrimination, The Holocaust and/or other genocides
  • Core activities:

    Group work, Group discussion, Other

Additional information about the practice

    Target population

  • Number of participants:

    Up to 34
  • Age of target population:

  • Additional specifics:

    Other:, the materials exist in English, German and Hebrew but were not conceptualised specifically for these societies.
  • Components of the practice

  • Topics and objectives:

    „nowhere to go“ offers online materials on the topic of flight and escape – taking the situation of German and Austrian Jews in 1938-39 as a starting point for a reflection on the situation of refugees and escaping today. The materials consist of three comprehensive historical modules (The Evian conference, the Kindertrasport and the St. Louis) and of an exercise that can be used in all modules, designed to reflect on individual thoughts and positions regarding refugees and escape and to create a link between past and present. In the field of remembrance education, we make a conscious effort to stay clear from analogies of current events and the experience of the Holocaust (and other genocides). Yet it makes sense to take the situation of German Jews in the 1930s, before the Holocaust, as a starting point for a discussion. When linking past and present in the different modules, we do not directly compare experiences or contexts, but implicitly compare structures – of prejudice, exclusion, language, diplomatic interests and attitudes of governments. The Kindertransport module, for example, reflects the role of the media and language used in shaping our perception on reality and on groups of people that are not our own. Our modules are based on primary historical sources, which allow insights to the continuity of questions and create awareness – also by putting the complicated question of comparability of historical events out in the open for participants to discuss.
  • Materials used:

    Written or other published material, Audiovisual material, Online material
  • Material produced:

    Written material
  • Sequence of activities - methodology:

    Each module has three phases: an introduction to the module, work groups with primary sources, and a third phase of reflection. In the Evian Conference module, for example, phase 2 is a reenactment of the conference; in the Kindertransport module participants discuss the experience of child refugees based on various testimonies of children of the Kindertransport; and in the St. Louis module, each group deals with one aspect of the story (the refugees themselves, the Cuban and American government, the captain of the ship etc.) and eventually presents and discusses it with the other participants. One of the groups focuses on the topic of international responsibility for the situation of refugees - with regards to the existing international law. In the last phase of this module, participants are asked to formulate and convey a message they consider important in regard to the topic of flight and seeking refuge. The Kindertrasnport module also ends with a product: participants are asked to present their discussion on comparability between past and present in one of the following ways: a short newspaper article; a talk show interview, a speech to the international community on the topic of refugees.
  • Length of activity:

    Up to 5 hours
  • Is the activity digital?:

    Yes: https://flucht-geschichten.de/nowhere-to-go/?_lang=en
  • Accessibility and replicability

  • Language(s) in which activity can be delivered:

    English, German, Other
  • Is specialist knowledge or professional training required?:


Qualitative Details

  • Has this practice been evaluated?

  • Core content knowledge and transferable skills:

    When linking past and present we don’t compare experiences, but implicitly compare structures (of prejudice, exclusion, language, diplomatic interests), which encourages critical thinking and a better understanding of agents in the societies in which we live. Discussing the continuity of questions shows that history may not repeat, but can instruct.
  • Indicators of success:

    In light of Europe’s refugee crisis there was a „re-discovery“ of the Evian Conference, Kindertransport and the voyage of the St. Louis, yet many of the existing materials on that topic were conceptualised with different questions in mind - and did not have a refugee crisis as their starting point. Our specific aim was to link between past and present while asking participants themselves about the challenges and opportunities of such a comparison, leaving them room to criticise such a comparison. In addition, this practice is adaptable and can be used by any teacher without further skills.
  • Educational coordinator contact details:

    Name: Aya Zarfati
    Email address: zarfati@ghwk.de


The RETHINK project is concerned with bridging formal and informal education. This section explores the factors that make a practice adaptable.

  • Key factors for successful implementation:

    Other factor – please specify, creating an atmosphere in which the students will feel they can express their real opinions/positions.
  • Main challenges to teachers adapting this practice for their students:

    the main challenge is keeping the focus of the activity on the agencies and structures, rather than on the biographies of the people affected by the situation of flight and escape.
  • Availability of guidance/training/replication materials (and in what language/format currently):

    An extensive guideline with all the materials exists online in English, German and Hebrew.
  • Other comments or details: