Self-guided tours

Work in small groups with a subsequent guided tour “for pupils by pupils“

The technique of a guided tour “for pupils by pupils” is used with pupils aged 14 to 16 who work in small groups. This approach encourages the pupils to determine for themselves the principal focal points of the permanent exhibition, thereby enhancing their willingness to take notice of new items of information. The pupils prepare a guided tour for their classmates through one of the rooms of the exhibition. The presentation of each room generally lasts from five to seven minutes. The pupils can choose the room on which they want to concentrate. The staff members of the educational department take care that sufficient rooms of the exhibition are included in order to make sure that the process of deprivation of rights, segregation, and finally extermination will emerge clearly.The objective of preparing an autonomous guided tour is not merely to present facts to one’s fellow pupils but also to find an individual approach to the contents of the exhibition, and then to discuss these with fellow pupils. For this reason, the young people are asked to introduce the subject of their chosen room briefly to their fellow pupils, and then to concentrate on two or three displays which they found particularly significant.Once the preparation has been concluded, the pupils take turns guiding each other through the rooms on which they have concentrated. The staff member in charge joins this guided tour and provides information about the Wannsee Conference in the room where it was held.
Work in small groups...

Students guide students through the permanent exhibition. Suggestion for students older than 16

Guided tours in exhibitions often tend to make students passive so that they soon become tired and their interest fades away. Of course older students can usually focus longer on exhibits than younger ones and may profit from a well planned, competent and vivid guided tour. But also older students are usually more motivated, ready for reflection and emotional involvement if they actively participate in the tour through the exhibition. The following suggestion aims at attaining such an active participation of the students.

Students first get an introduction to the historical site. Whether the staff member at this point will present the Wannsee Conference or will integrate his or her deliberations about the event later into the tour, depends on the accessibility of the room where the Conference took place. This room might temporarily be occupied by other visitors.

In any case the staff member will present the ground plan of the exhibition to the students and suggest a couple of topics. Students will choose one of the topics and afterwards explore it in a small group. Each group should choose exhibits in two or more rooms of the exhibition that exemplify aspects of the chosen topic. To facilitate work in the exhibition students get copies of the ground plan, informing them where they can find exhibits referring to their topic. The students should explain the photos or documents they choose as precisely as possible, using the contextual information given in the exhibition. And they should try to find a  threadconnecting the exhibits so that relations and developments fall into place.

While the students are exploring their topic the staff member is always available for advice. When all small groups have prepared and rehearsed their part, the guided tour for students by students through the exhibition can start. Its success will depend on the ability of the students to relate their remarks purposefully to the exhibits they show and on their readiness to answer questions that may come up during the tour. Guidance by the students will be supported by the staff member if necessary. But her or his task is more to facilitate and to moderate than to present – with the exception of the history of the Wannsee Conference.

All in all about three hours are needed for this activity.
Possible topics and the rooms suitable for exploring them are listed in the following. It is not necessary that all topics are chosen. The first list of topics (A) follows Raul Hilberg’s concept of the stages of destruction in the process of the persecution and murder of the European Jews. The second one (B) suggests various topics that are relevant for exploring the history of the Holocaust and its historical context.
Students guide students ...