Nowhere to go. Jewish Refugees 1938-39 is a project offering online materials on the topic of flight and escape – taking the situation of German and Austrian Jews in 1938-39 as a starting point for a reflection on the situation of refugees and escaping today.
The materials consist of three comprehensive historical units (The Evian conference, the Kindertrasport and the St. Louis) and of an exercise that can be used in all modules, designed to reflect on individual thoughts and positions regarding refugees and escape and to create a link between past and present.
The materials were produced in cooperation between educators from the Memorial and Educational Site House of the Wannsee Conference in Berlin and from Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies in Israel, with the funding of the German foundation EVZ (Remembrance, Responsibility Future).
In light of Europe’s so called refugee crisis – mainly referring to rising numbers of people arriving to the European Union in 2015 – many individuals and media bodies looked for comparisons in the past, sometimes pointing out „striking parallels between past and present“. Historic comparisons of different phenomena in different historic periods and contexts are generally challenging – and often misleading. In the field of remembrance education, we make a conscious effort to stay clear from analogies of current events and the experience of the Holocaust (and other genocides).
And yet, it makes sense to take the situation of German Jews in the 1930s, before the Holocaust, as a starting point for a discussion. When linking past and present in the different modules, we do not directly compare experiences or contexts, but implicitly compare structures – of prejudice, exclusion, language, diplomatic interests and attitudes of governments. Our modules are based on primary historical sources, which allow insights to the continuity of questions and create awareness – also by putting the complicated question of comparability of historical events out in the open for participants to discuss.
Responsible for the project: