This Toolkit is released as an online beta version. Teachers are invited to share their experiences in using this Toolkit by emailing one of the project contacts.

The students involved began the project by learning the specific details of the thirty Articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Once these were established in their work, they researched some key elements of the Holocaust and compared them with the events of a more recent genocide. In both cases, the main focus was to highlight where people’s human rights had been violated, referring to the Articles in the Declaration. Their work included listening and responding to recorded eye-witness testimonies, as well as meeting and interviewing a survivor of the Holocaust. The final part of the project challenged the students to think of ways in which genocide could be prevented in the future. This section of the project required them to think locally, nationally and interna-tionally and in particular to consider how their own actions play a vital role in the protection of human rights.  

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Task

Date

Unit 1: What are our human rights?

Research - what does the declaration of human rights say?

Why is this legislation important in a civilized society?

Which ones from the list are the most important to you and why?

Two 1 hour lessons

Week beginning:

22nd June 2009

Unit 2: The Holocaust

Research – find examples from the Holocaust where specific human rights were violated e.g. removal of civic rights in the Nuremberg Laws etc.

Use of survivor testimony – either by invitation into school, via video conference or DVD clips

Preparation for survivor testimony to include questions regarding the violation of human rights

Two 1 hour lessons

Week beginning:

29th June 2009

Unit 3: Modern Genocide

Students to research one more recent act of genocide e.g. in Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda or Darfur

Research to focus on how / why it started, what happened and how human rights were violated

Use of survivor testimony from these genocides could also be explored either in written or film format

Two 1 hour lessons

Week beginning:

6th July 2009

Unit 4: How can genocide be prevented?

Research the causes of genocide – focus on the common threads between the Holocaust and others

Explore what young people can practically do to ensure future acts of human rights violation can be challenged or avoided e.g. democracy, political activism, government commitments, personal / social responsibilities

Raising awareness of key issues such as tolerance to fellow students and local community

Two 1 hour lessons

Week beginning:

13th July 2009

Unit 5: Sharing experiences

Students to share their research projects and personal responses with their peers at Mill Hill and the other EU schools involved

This could include presentations of quality work including their findings, comments and ideas for the future

Exchange of ideas could include: e-mail, video conference and a Web Site for the project

Final Lesson:

Feedback of individual projects to the rest of the group.

Week beginning:

20th July 2009

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Objectives and Rationale
a. Content and Context

  • Increase knowledge of human rights and genocide
  • Understand how these rights were violated in the Holocaust
  • Consider ways to prevent future violations of human rights

b. Pedagogical/Didactic Aims

  • Increase student research skills
  • Encourage thoughtful and searching questions
  • Explore possible solutions to complicated problems

Methodological Approaches
Research & write up in pairs:

  • Identify, explain & comment on UN Declaration of Human Rights’.
  • Focus on: Nuremberg Laws of 1935, Kristallnacht pogrom and the ghettos. Identify specific examples where human rights were violated.

Note: It is important to recognize that the focus of this project should be on the violation of human rights during the Holocaust before the mass exterminations started. It is perhaps too simplistic for students to consider the destruction of life in this way as purely a human rights issue. The removal of rights to edu-cation, health care, voting etc. may prove a more appropriate focus in the context of this project.

Key events of a genocide that occurred after the Holocaust. Identify specific examples where human rights were violated.
Identify the common connections between the Holocaust and the other genocide studied.

Suggest ways that such atrocities could be stopped in the future.
Students to prepare a digital version of their project – word or PowerPoint presentation – and share with other classes and other schools.

Practical Challenges Faced by the Coordinators and Resolution Strategies
Ensure that students conducted their own work, and did not merely do a “copy and paste” exercise. The staff responsible had to make regular checks of the students’ work and discuss the projects with individuals.

Allocate sufficient time.
The tasks given cover a huge area and students could spend too long in one area. Strict deadlines for each sec-tion of the project needed to be set. Students were directed to specific web sites and sources rather than allowed to search randomly.
Non-specialist teaching staff:
Some sessions were conducted by educators who did not have prior experience teaching about this subject mat-ter. Therefore a detailed project scheme was created and strategies were outlined beforehand
Sharing of projects internationally:
A site has been created where students from other European countries who are also participating in the same project can log on and share their research, opinions and feeling both during and after completion. The current project site can be found at: http://htgcivics.wordpress.com/.


Technical Equipment Requirements (if applicable)

  • Access to Internet for research
  • DVD player to show recorded survivor testimony
  • Access to computers for production of project in a digital format


Primary Source Materials and Online Resources
www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/
www.ppu.org.uk/genocide/
www.ushmm.org/genocide/
www.genocideprevention.org.uk/
www.preventorprotect.org/
www.usip.org/genocide_taskforce/
‘Recollections’ - survivor testimony DVD from The Holocaust Educational Trust and the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, http://www.het.org.uk/content.php?page_id=190http://www.hetireland.org/index.php?page=crocus_overview


‘Wasted Lives’ video – survivor testimony from Rwanda, Armenia and Bosnia
Aegis awareness raising DVDs on Rwanda and Darfur, www.aegistrust.org
Note: These should be used sensitively and only after careful consideration by the staff involved as they contain disturbing images that may be considered unhelpful in the context of the project.
Human rights worksheets
Written projects including pictures, text etc. to be presented using word or PowerPoint presentation

Practical Suggestions for Adaptation and Implementation in the Educational System
Timing
Allow at least two hours of lesson time for each section of the course. It would prove difficult to complete all as-pects of the project with less time.

Survivor Testimony
It is vital that students hear firsthand what it was like to have human rights violated. Having a survivor visit your school is clearly the best way of achieving this, but if this proves impossible, use recorded versions of personal testimonies.

Preparation for Survivor Testimony
Students need to be properly prepared for the testimony of a survivor with information about who they are, where they are from and some background to their experiences.

Unit Introductions
Each unit in the project needs a teacher-led introduction. This will allow the teacher to clearly direct their students as well as giving the opportunity to discuss the issues raised in an open forum before the written work is tackled.

Human Rights Violation
It is important to recognize that the focus of this project should be on the violation of human rights during the Holocaust before the mass exterminations started. It is perhaps too simplistic for students to consider the destruc-tion of life in this way as a human rights issue. The removal of rights to education, health care, voting etc. may prove more appropriate in the context of this project.

Specific Examples of Human Rights Violation during the Holocaust

It is important for the students to consider specific events that violated human rights during the Holocaust and this is best explored through eye witness testimony. For example, Steve Mendelsson arrived in the UK in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport. He speaks vividly to students about his experiences in Germany before he left as well as what happened to him on arrival in this country. His testimony includes descriptions of his feelings of isolation and segregation after he was told he could no longer attend school with his non-Jewish friends.

“Round about 1936 many of my friends at school suddenly started to avoid and ignore me. I challenged one of them to explain. Diffidently, he said, ‘My father forbade me to play with Jews’. This was a bitter blow to my self confidence – my hitherto happy social life had been blown to bits. Soon after that all Jewish children were ex-pelled from German state schools.”
S. Mendelsson
In Survival – Holocaust survivors Tell Their Story (ed. Wendy Whitworth), Quill Press, 2006,  p. 273.

This led students into a discussion focused on related issues such as tolerance and acceptance of minority groups who may often be isolated in contemporary society.

Specific Examples of Human Rights Violations during other genocides
As mentioned above, it is particularly helpful for the students if they can find specific examples in more recent genocides where human rights were violated before the mass killings began. The experiences of eye witnesses and survivors are particularly important in this context.
One area that could be explored is the separation of the two tribes in Rwanda in the early 1990s. Both Hutus and Tutsis were given identification cards that specified an ethnic group. These cards served as symbols for segrega-tion and unfair treatment. Skin color was a general physical trait that was typically used in “ethnic” identification. The lighter-colored Rwandans were typically Tutsi, the minority group, while the darker-skinned Rwandans were typically Hutu, the majority group in Rwanda. In many cases, Tutsi men, women, and children were separated from the general population and sometimes forced to be Hutu slaves. As for the Tutsi women, they were often referred to as “gypsies” and were frequently mistreated.

Specialist Knowledge
It is important to note that the teacher who deals with modern genocide cannot be a specialist on all the examples suggested. In order to be able to answer the students about their questions, the member of staff must be prepared to conduct their own research along with their young people and consult reliable sources as recommended in the notes above.

Paired work
The tasks are designed for pairs to work together, but after the introductory discussions for each unit, it may be appropriate for students to work on their own.

Follow up
The students involved should be given the opportunity to share their work, responses, ideas and opinions with other students across Europe who are completing similar projects. An example of a web site for the current pro-ject where students can add their own contributions can be found at: http://htgcivics.wordpress.com/.

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S. J. Richardson

Title of the Project
Human Rights and the Holocaust

Name of the Coordinator
Mr. S. J. Richardson

Name of the School
Mill Hill School, Ripley, Derbyshire, England; http://www.millhill.derbyshire.sch.uk/

EU Member State
United Kingdom

Number of Students Involved and their ages/grades
40 students were involved, ages 16/17 (Year 12 A level students).

Involvement of Advisors and/or Other Institutions (if applicable)
N/A