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Programme Outline

The programme begins in the classroom where the two teacher/actors set the context of the drama which the children are going to participate in. They are introduced to Inge Gershon, a ten year old girl who escaped to safety from Germany to England on the ‘Kindertransport’. The scene is set of pre-war Germany using audio re-construction of ‘Kristallnacht’ the ‘night of broken glass’.

The children are asked to consider why people might need to escape from danger and if they had to leave their families behind what they would take with them. The class are then seated in six groups and each group is given a suitcase labelled with the name of one of the key cities from where ‘Kindertransport’ children came from: Warsaw, Prague, Ostrava, Berlin, Leipzig and Vienna.

The children move to the hall (bringing their suitcases with them) and witness the arrival of Maryam a modern day refugee to Britain. The voice of Hitler then transports them back to Germany in 1937 and through Inge’s eyes they see how the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people built to the events of ‘Kristallnacht’. The children get a glimpse of Inge’s friendship with her Aryan classmate Helga and see how her normal childhood is destroyed by the effect of the Nuremburg laws. They see her at home on her birthday, in the park and at her school. Inge’s parents Mrs Gershon tell the class about the possibility of securing Inge’s safety through the ‘Kindertransport’ scheme and ask for help in how to tell Inge that they have decided to send her away.

In their groups the children are asked to participate in creating a still picture of the moment when families say their last goodbyes. As the children sit back down they witness another moment in the journey of Maryam, who is also at a train station.

Inge and the six groups now board the train ‘in role’ as ‘kindertransport’ refugees who are leaving Germany together. Everybody has to squash into one carriage (two P.E. benches). Through storytelling and participation the children experience what the journey by train and boat from their homeland to England might have been like. They are welcomed by the Committee of Refugee Movement and dispersed to their new homes all over the country, except for Inge, who is left alone.

There is a break here (unless the school doesn’t usually have one).

Inge’s story resumes with her host family, the Coles, and they see the tensions and difficulties that she faces settling into a new ‘home’ with strangers. Before meeting Mrs Coles, the children again see Maryam whose plight is becoming more desperate. Back to 1939, and they observe how Inge struggles with language, loss, separation and the need to hold on to her identity. The outbreak of war increases the complexity of her situation and the drama reaches a climax when, during an air raid Inge discovers letters from her parents which have been hidden from her. This causes a huge argument at which point the drama is halted and the class are invited to explore the complexities of each character’s course of action and discuss what should happen next. The scene is replayed putting the children’s ideas into action.

Through storytelling we find out what happened to Inge and her family. We then see our modern refugee again and the children are given the opportunity to use what they know in order to shape Maryam’s story. Finally they offer words of advice, comfort or support to help them on their journey.

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