Activity 1 - Life Before the Holocaust

1. The survivors give examples of anti-Semitism in their testimonies.

2. In 1939, following Kristallnacht, Britain agreed to take in 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany. Parents had to make a terrible choice: whether to send their children abroad to safety or to keep the family together.

  • Imagine you choose to send a six-year-old child to England for safety during this time. The Nazis would restrict children to one suitcase only.
  • List the items would you choose to include in your child's suitcase. Consider the contemporary political situation and the reality that you may never see your child again.
  • See Maps to find out which countries you would send your child to.

3. Kindertransport survivors relate stories of foster families who treated them as part of the family. Others describe foster families who treated them very badly.

  • Compose a letter to your parents describing your arrival in England as a Kindertransport child. Using the testimony for evidence, together with your own imagined responses to such a situation, describe your general thoughts and feelings on arrival in England.

4.  According to survivor, Jack Kagan, the worst anti-Jewish decree was 'losing the right' in other words, losing the right of citizenship including police protection.

  • What do you consider to be your individual rights? List them under the following three headings: Personal, Political and Human Rights.
  • Would any of the rights you listed earlier have been taken away?
  • Using all of this evidence, imagine such rights were removed from you today in your town. Write a diary extract describing the restrictions that have the most significant impact on you and describe why.
  • Note down ways human rights are being denied today.

5. The Nazis used incorrect scientific theories, eugenics, to determine whether people belonged to the Aryan race, which they considered superior to others. They incorrectly claimed, for example that they could define a person's character by the colour of their eyes.

  • What colour are your eyes? Imagine the Government announces new laws saying all those with your eye colour should be treated in a less favourable way than others. The Government starts to impose similar rules to those imposed on the Jews in Nazi Germany. Write down the possible outcomes from such a situation. Who do you think is responsible for protecting your rights? Record your answer.