“Respecting people – understanding rights”

In September 2013, the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation launched a project entitled “Menschen achten – Rechte verstehen. Historisch-politische Bildung in Kooperation von Gedenkstätten und Schulen” (“Respecting people - understanding rights. Historical-political education in cooperation between memorials and schools”). The project was aimed at educators from schools, memorials and other educational institutions working with children between the ages of 8 and 13.

Children and the topic of National Socialism

Pupils of this age are not the usual visitors to memorials dedicated to the remembrance of Nazi crimes. Additionally, the core curriculum for history stipulates that schools should start teaching pupils about the Nazi dictatorship starting in Grade 9 (age 14). But children are exposed to the topic of National Socialism earlier than this – through the media, their families, and public events. Historical-political learning about the topic of National Socialism thus takes place independently of school lessons. Many teachers are responding to this by addressing the subject in primary or early secondary-levelschools in order to answer children’s questions.

Key questions

This is where the “Menschen achten – Rechte verstehen” project came in. In cooperation with teachers, memorial educators and lecturers in various disciplines, the project explored the question of how schools and other educational institutions could best approach the study of National Socialism, the Holocaust and current human rights violations for pupils in primary school (Grades 3 to 4) and secondary school (Grades 5 to 8). The starting point for the project was the knowledge, questions and learning requirements of the children and the associated demands placed on educators. How can orientational historical knowledge be imparted to these age groups and embedded in a social context? Is it possible to promote an awareness of the right to human dignity and human rights in general while doing so? What role can current experiences of exclusion and discrimination play in this? And how can schools and memorials cooperate in this context? With this in mind, the project also aimed to prepare for subsequent visits to memorials by older students.


In the context of the project, events were held to introduce educators to innovative teaching concepts and educational materials. These materials were then tested in schools and other sites of learning.
The project was sponsored by the European Social Fund and the Lower Saxony Ministry of Culture.


Practical forum for teachers and educators: New approaches to historical-political teaching on the topic of National Socialism.

Results and reflections
from two projects by the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation (German).

Workshop for educators: Between facts and fiction:

Graphic novels and historical narratives
in der Bildungsarbeit zum Nationalsozialismus (German).

Training for teachers and educators:

Children’s literature
about National Socialism and the Shoah for pupils aged 8 to 12 (German).

Training for teachers and memorial educators:

Learning resources and teaching approaches
on the topic of National Socialism for pupils in Grades 4 to 6 in cooperation between memorials and schools (German).

Training for teachers: “Not in the bag on the first day of school...”

The fates of Jewish children
1933-1942 in Berlin (German).

Training for educators: The topic of

Teaching National Socialism
to Grades 4 to 6 in cooperation between schools and memorials (German).