The Kindertransport Quilts hangs as a memorial,
An historical record,
A warning to never let this happen again.
But the world turns.
Have we learned?
Lesson plans, projects, ideas and resources can easily bring the study of the Kindertransport Quilts into the classroom and connect this moving piece of history to events of today and predictions for tomorrow. These lesson plans and resources are meant to aid the teacher. They can be used in bits and pieces or as a whole. All educational materials were created by Linda Grekin and Shelley Goldberg under the auspices of the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
How to Best Incorporate the Story of the Kindertransport in the Classroom:
Many conflicts throughout the ages, including today, involve religious groups. How does this affect children? What does it teach them? The Jewish people were targeted for extinction by Hitler. How were the children on the Kindertransport affected knowing their religion marked them for death? Are there children today affected by religious wars? Where? How? Is religion the real problem or are power, land and resources also involved? Is there a place where people of different religions live together in peace? What sorts of governments, constitutions, rules and laws promote this?
World War II
The Kindertransport took place prior to the start of World War II. Click on the timeline link to see what else was going on during the time of the Kindertransport. How did the people and events at that time determine the number of children who could be removed from Germany and Austria. Where did they go?
Forms of Government
How did World War I affect Germany, its government, its territory, its military and its feelings of nationalism? What form of government was in place in Germany when Hitler took over? Was it the same as ours? Could the same thing happen in our country? Is there something in our form of government, our Constitution, our laws that would prevent a Hitler from taking over and passing anti-Jewish laws? If the economy in this country was so depressed that people were losing their savings and their homes, could it happen? Did any of our presidents manipulate our governmental structures, laws and Constitution to get more power? Who? When? What happened?
Conflict and Cooperation
The Kindertransport was necessary because of a conflict, but was able to succeed because of cooperation. Who cooperated to make the Kindertransport a reality? What did they have to do to convince people and governments to support this venture financially and administratively? Why was England the only country that participated in the Kindertransport? Why was the United States not involved? What kinds of things do you risk if you as an individual, or you as a country, become involved in a venture such as this? What motivates countries and people to cooperate with each other? Is a materialistic reward necessary? Does fear play a part in decision making?
What is the definition of genocide? Is it the same as ethnic cleansing? How would you define the Holocaust? The Kindertransport makes it clear that no one is exempt from the violence of war, even children. Is there genocide in the world today? Where? What happens to the children today who are in areas where genocide is taking place? Are there modern Kindertransports? ? What can be done to stop genocide and ethnic cleansing or to help the people who are its victims? Edmund Burke said, “All that is needed for evil to succeed is that decent human beings do nothing.” How does that relate to the Kindertransport? Is there something ordinary people can do today to stop the conflicts around the world and to help the people affected by them?
What are the major issues affecting the nations of the world today? Some examples would be global warming and other environmental issues, resources like oil and land, nuclear proliferation, health, economics, etc. What are the major conflicts in the world and which nations are directly involved? Do those conflicts involve any of the major world issues? Which ones? How? What are the similarities and differences in the lives of the children involved in the wars of today compared to the lives of the children involved in World War II? Can any of the children escape their country’s war today? How? Where do they go? Does the United States accept any of these children? George Santayana said, “Those who forget history are destined to repeat it.” Have we forgotten history? Is history repeating itself? Where and how?
Define and compare the terms immigrant, refugee, migrant and transmigrant. Were the children on the Kindertransport refugees or immigrants? Do countries accept any refugee who wants to settle within their borders? Why or why not? What is the history of immigration in the United States? What rules do we have that form the basis of whether or not a refugee is allowed into our country or an immigrant is allowed to become a citizen? (Use the link for a timeline of U.S. immigration history.) What is a quota? Do we have quotas for the number of students, professionals, visitors and immigrants from specific countries? Why? How are immigration and economics linked? What does an influx of immigrants or refugees do to a nation’s economy? Who pays for them? Can they work? Do they pay taxes? Can they go to schools and get health care?? The United States, along with most other countries, did not allow the Jewish children on the Kindertransport into their country. Why? Many Jewish families fleeing the Nazis were not allowed to come here as refugees. Why? Are we repeating that pattern today? Do we accept all the children and families who are homeless because of a war or do we have a quota? Why or why not?
Define economic interdependence. Give some examples. Is our country economically dependent on any other nation? Which ones and how? Is this interdependence beneficial or detrimental? Can it be the basis of a war? How? Does it have anything to do with our relationship with the countries of the Middle East? What? What about with Mexico, Cuba, China? Was this concept involved in World War II?
Art and Society
The arts have been a part of our world from the time men drew on the walls of caves, created dances to beseech the gods for rain and acted out battles to give men the courage to fight. The arts have been used to depict events acting as a historical record of life in a specific place at a specific time. They have been used to protest leaders, wars and social conditions, and to comment on the culture and lifestyle of individual groups of people. The arts have been used to provoke action and as a means of personal expression. (Use the art and society link to find examples of how the arts have been used.) The Kindertransport Quilts are a piece of art. Why do you think people wanted to participate in the making of the quilts? Why are they in a museum? Are they relevant in some way today?