Teaching the Holocaust to Primary Schools using the Kindertransport

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This story is designed to guide Primary teachers through the topic of teaching the Holocaust. It outlines individual lessons and examples of work that focus on the key question 'What can we learn from the Kindertransport?' It includes individual testimonies from our survivors who speak at the National Holocaust Centre and explores themes of identity, experience and remembrance.


This guide includes the following lessons. Each lesson has a key question, learning outcomes, activities and resources.

Lesson 1: Who am I?

Lesson 2: What big changes happen in life?

Lesson 3: Why are journeys important?

Lesson 4: What makes an object special?

Lesson 5: Why are new experiences difficult?

Trip to The National Holocaust Centre and Museum.

Lesson 6: (Optional) What happened to the children left behind?

Lesson 7: How can we remember the Kindertransport?



Please use the activities and links on this site. For specific National Curriculum links please see here:
This scheme also covers other National Curriculum subjects including Art, Computing, Design and Technology, Geography, and Music:
For guidance about how to teach the Holocaust see the IHRA guidelines:

1. Create your own story on yarn. This will help to build a technology element into your topic but also allow students and parents to see the progress they are making in the topic. You can also use it to discuss any issues with other teachers and us, at the National Holocaust Centre.

2. Inform parents through a letter about the topic. There is an example at the end of this story.

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LESSON 1: Who am I?

All: Identify their identity including similarities and differences with others.
Most: Describe what makes you the person you are.
Some: Explain what are the most important parts of your identity.

Subjects: PSHE, RE, IT and History

Paired discussion about what the word ‘identity’ means. Discuss as a class that identity can include: Morals (How you see right and wrong)
Values (Something that you feel is important)
Traditions (Something that you do on a regular basis)
Faith (Religion)
Culture (Your community traditions)
Character (Your personality)

Ask students what questions they would ask to discover someone's identity.

Activity 1
What makes you, you? Interview task. Students are given a series of questions they have to ask another student in the form of an interview. They then have to report back to the rest of the class. This information could then be collected to show the different/same identities within the class.

Activity 2
Option 1: Students to create a film about themselves or a mini me poster. This could include their personality, beliefs and what is most important to them. Examples from other schools are shown below.

Option 2:Using the information from the class interviews create statistical data.

Activity 3
Using the clip on iwitness, discuss Steve's identity. How is it similar or different to you?

About Steve:

Discussion: One part of Steve's identity is that he's Jewish. What does it mean to be Jewish? Why do children enjoy being Jewish?

Steve had to leave his country because of one part of his identity which was because he was Jewish. Discussion: what is your reaction to this?

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 Item details…

Example of poetry by Webster Primary School about the changes to Jewish life during the 1930s.

LESSON 2: What big changes happen in life?

All: Identify key changes in a person's life.
Most: Describe how life changed for Jewish people during the 1930s.
Some: Explain why some people like Steve decided to leave.

Subjects: History, PSHE and English.

Starter: What are the big changes that happen in life? What changes have happened in your life?
Challenge: What difference did these changes make to your life?

Activity 1: Using the accounts from Steve and Ellen collect evidence about pre Nazi Jewish life. Ask students to consider what life was like by writing key facts and words.
Steve talking about life before the Nazis:

“I remember my days at the local junior school, where none of my friends were Jewish. Together we kicked footballs around (occasionally breaking a neighbour’s window), and went scrumping for apples and pears. We organised bicycle races round the streets in a game like ‘cops and robbers’. I remember I did a lot of naughty things at school. One day, I sawed one of the legs off the teacher’s chair and he feel over backwards! It was hilarious at the time, but of course I got into a lot of trouble.”

© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, p. 132-33.

You can also use Ellen Rawson. Her testimony is just after this lesson outline.

Activity 3: Nazi Germany. Life for Jewish people after the Nazis. Ask students to identify changes in Steve and Ellen's life.
These testimonies are just after this lesson outline.

Activity 4: 'Before and After'
Create a poem about life before the Nazis came to power for Jewish people and what it was like after. Challenge: Write this without using the word 'I'. (This will hopefully get the students to write in the third person and for it to be more abstract rather than putting themselves in their shoes)

Plenary: Read the accounts of The night of Broken Glass. Why did Steve and Ellen leave their country to come to Britain?

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Steve - After

“Round 1936 – just after the Olympic Games in Berlin – all my friends suddenly started to ignore me. I challenged one of them to explain. He said “My father said I’m not allowed to play with Jews.” It was a bitter blow. My happy social life had been blown to bits.”
© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) p. 133

Jewish school

“Soon after that, all jewish children were expelled from German state schools. Fortunately, there was a small Jewish school that was extended to take in new pupils. There was no shortage of Jewish teachers because they had all been dismissed from German schools some time before. Soon I made new friends – all Jewish of course – and all seemed well for the first few weeks. But then serious problems developed at the end of the school day. Crowds of young boys from a nearby German school, all members of the Hitler’s Youth Movement, would congregate outside the school gates. As we came out, they started to beat us up.”
© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) p. 133.

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Before and After
Ellen Rawson: https://www.nationalholocaustcentre.net/ellen-rawson

"My name is Ellen Rawson and I was born on 17th January 1922 in Konigsberg in East Prussia, a former kingdom of Germany."

"I had Jewish girl friends of my own age and we used to meet once a month for hot chocolate. But my best friend was a Catholic girl and we saw each other every day"

"I was fortunate to go to a school for mathematics because that has really been my forte all my life."

Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) p. 180-2.
© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum

"When Hitler came to power, life didn't change very much to begin with. My father carried on in the family wholesale and retail cloth business. But as the years went on, things got very much more difficult and I had to leave school when I was fifteen and a half. I remember while I was still at school that Jews were not allowed to go to the cinema or theatre, or take part in anything."

"I had a horrible experience at school. Our class was asked to give a radio performance and every girl was given a part to read, including me. I studied it, but then I was suddenly told, "No! You can't take part in it, you're Jewish." That really hurt me at the time"

Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) p. 182.
© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum

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November pogrom (Night of Broken Glass)
“In 1938, the Nazis made life even more frightening. I remember the night in November that is now called the ‘Night of Broken Glass.’ Jewish shops were looted and their windows broken. We were warned by neighbours not to go to school, and in the evening the Nazis set the synagogue on fire. Then, during the night, they came to find my father and grandfather. The caretaker of our building risked his life and said they were too late, that father and grandfather had been taken ten minutes earlier. Four days later, when my father thought it was safe to return to work, he left the house in the morning as usual. That night he didn’t come back. He has been sent to a concentration camp. We didn’t see him for 14 weeks.”
© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) p. 134.

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Ellen Rawson
After - November pogrom (The Night of Broken Glass)

"When Kristallnacht, the 'Night of Broken Glass' happened in 1938, I was away from home in Mannheim, learning sewing. I'll never forget the noise that night in Mannheim - the rabble going down the road, smashing things wherever they found Jewish flats."

Ellen was told by her mother to leave Mannheim and stay with her cousin in Heidelberg because she would be safe with her.

"I had to stay in the flat all day and night because it wasn't safe for Jews to be out. I stayed there for two or three weeks, but on the first weekend, I went home to Mannheim to get my clothes and personal possessions. Then I saw all the damage that had been done at home. It was horrible."

Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) pp. 182-3.
© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum

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LESSON 3: Why are journeys important?

All: identify different journeys and where people travelled from and to.
Most: explain the reasons people go on a journey.
Some: judge the most important reasons for a journey.

Subjects: History, Geography.

Starter: What journeys do people make? Why are they important?

Activity 1: Using a map from 1938 students are to plot where they've been and the different reasons for the journey. This could be done as a class or individually. If there are a variety of reasons this could be colour co ordinated to show the main reasons people in the class have been on a journey.

Activity 2: Ask the students to record and plot the journeys of different survivors. Again these could be colour coordinate to show reasons for that journey. Survivor stories can be found here (Please note that these will need to be made student friendly and the link is just a guide):

Steve Mendelsonn
Ellen Rawson
Bernard Grunsberg
Ruth David
Harry Bibring

Plenary: What is the most important reason for why these people go on this journey? Why is this journey important? What was the journey like? Use the quotes to help structure this discussion.

Homework: What might you take on a journey like Steve's?
Bring in this item.

“Our bags were checked by a customs official, he unpacked everything. We couldn’t get it back in the case so stuffed socks in our pockets.” Steven

Our Lonely Journey: Remembering the Kindertransport, (1999) p. 11-12.

 Item details…

Survivors who visit the National Holocaust Centre.

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 Item details…

This clip gives an example of children presenting their special objects.

LESSON 4: What makes an object special?

All: Identify a special object and describe it.
Most: Describe a journey an object might take.
Some: Explain why an object can be very important.

Subject: Computing, ICT and/or English

Starter: Think, Pair, Share.
Think about the object you've brought into school. Think about why it is so special and important to you.
Find another person and explain why your object so important to them.
Share with the rest of the group why your partner's object is so important to them.

Option 1: Ask students to bring in objects which are special to them and to create a presentation about why their object is so important to them.

Option 2: Give them a selection of artefacts that people took with them to England on the Kindertransport. Ask students to imagine they are the object. Ask them to create a story about the journey to England from the object's perspective and why they are so important to the survivor.

Ellen Rawson's doll that she brought with her on the Kindertransport

Bernard's chisel:

Coat hanger 'for the good child'

Male Doll 'father'

Male doll 'son'

Plenary: Why are these objects kept behind glass?
All these objects are on display at the National Holocaust Centre and Museum. They have been donated by the survivors. Why would they choose to donate them to the Centre if they are so precious to them?

Homework: Create a display for your object.

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LESSON 5: Why are new experiences difficult?

All: identify the new experiences of Steven and Lisa.
Most: describe the new experiences of kindertransportees.
Some: explain the most difficult new experiences.

Subjects: History, English, Languages, Citizenship.

Starter: Think about the new experiences you have had this year. How did you feel about it?

Main: Read through the quotes and discover the new experiences of Steve and Ellen. Identify their experiences of the journey, arrival, food, family, language and anything else you think is important.

Activity 1: Create a leaflet to prepare children for life in England based on the research you have carried out. Remember to include at least three new experiences so they are well prepared. This could include a focus on the issues of language. Some basic phases from German into English might be useful.

Discussion: What do you think Steve and Ellen found the most difficult? Why?

Plenary: Ellen and Steve were refugees. What does this mean? If someone was a refugee in this country how could we help to prepare them for life in England?

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New experiences quotes
“Our bags were checked by a customs official, he unpacked everything. We couldn’t get it back in the case so stuffed socks in our pockets.”

“I don’t remember the journey itself, but I do remember being excited about going to England on a train.”

“I remember it, it was a hot day, and they served us a cup of tea when we arrived. In Germany you would drink tea if it was cold!”

“The woman hugged us all the time and we got covered in makeup. England was not what I had expected so far."

“As soon as you could say ‘pliss’ and ‘tank yoo’ you were sent to the local school, where you quickly learned English with the other kids. When you have to speak a foreign language, you learn very quickly.”

“I was placed in a hostel run by a Jewish charity in Kent. There were 60 boys there. My brother was the youngest, and the oldest were twin brothers who were 16 years old. We had porridge and two slices of toast for breakfast and soup for lunch. On Sundays, we were given fruit cake. Which we traded for daily rations of toast with the other boys.”

© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Our Lonely Journey: Remembering The Kindertransports, (1999) pp. 11-14.


"I remember I was seasick on the boat crossing, so I slept all night"

"When we arrived at the station in London, I had a very unhappy experience. There were hundreds of children and people were coming to collect them. The group of children waiting got smaller and smaller, and when it got down to the last eight or ten, I was still there. It was really horrible."

"Eventually, the Committee lady came and collected me. She had lost her domestic help at home, so I was left to cook, clean and do everything in the house."

"The most difficult part was that I couldn't speak English and it took me some time to pick it up."

© The National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories, (2009) pp.183-4.

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Trip to the National Holocaust Centre and Museum
Learning Outcomes
1. Gain an awareness of choices made by individuals and how those choices shaped the lives of Jewish children during World War II.
2. Consider how the consequences of their choices impact on the lives of others today.
3. Explore the Journey of a Jewish boy in 1938 at a period when the situations were getting increasing difficult for Jews.

The day at the centre is split into 2. One part is The Journey exhibition where students are guided through the story of Leo Stein.
The other part of the day is listening to a survivor's testimony.

For more details please click the link below:

 Item details…

This video gives a demonstration of a survivor talk and the questions that primary students may ask.

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LESSON 6 (Optional) Other journeys: What happened to the people who weren't on The Kindertransport?

These stories include a range of other experiences including life in ghettos, concentration camps and hiding. You can choose just one story or a range to explore other testimonies of the Holocaust.

Robert Norton
Biography: https://www.nationalholocaustcentre.net/bobnorton
Journeys: pp.140-147

Biography: http://www.nationalholocaustcentre.net/zdenka
Video introduction: http://www.nationalholocaustcentre.net/pages/category/zdenka-herssel
Journeys: pp:116- 123.

Simon Winston
Journeys: pp. 236-243.

Martin Stern
Biography https://www.nationalholocaustcentre.net/martin-stern
Video introduction:
Journeys: pp.220-227

Arek Hersh
Journeys: pp.108-113.

All: Identify other journeys that people experienced during the Holocaust.
Most: Describe a journey and ask questions to a survivor.
Some: Explain why the Kindertransport was so important.

Starter: Discuss what other options people had if they were unable to go on the Kindertransport.

Main: Introduce a survivor using the clip and biography (This will need to be made student friendly). Then read their story in the Journey book. Make sure that as come across key words that you explain them. For example, concentration camp. There is a glossary at the bottom of this section to help you find appropriate definitions.

Discussion: How was this story different to the kindertransportees?

Discussion/Activity: What three questions would our class like to ask this person and why?

Activity: Ask students to write a letter to the survivor including the three questions. These can then be sent to the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and we ask our survivors for a response.

Plenary: How does this story help us to answer 'Why was the Kindertransport so important?'

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 Item details…

At the centre there are over a thousand white roses to remember the victims of the holocaust.

LESSON 7: How can we remember the Kindertransport?

All: to create a piece of work that remembers the Kindertransport.
Most: to create a piece of work that commemorates a specific part of the Kindertransport.
Some: to create a piece of work that commemorates a range of aspects about the Kindertransport.

Subjects: Art, Music, English, Citizenship, History.

Give students the opportunity to reflect on their learning and produce something to remember the Kindertransport/Holocaust. This could be a poem or a piece of artwork.

Option 1: Produce 'A Rose of Remembrance'. Students to create a rose and each petal to represent something they have learnt. One testimony, one fact, one survivor, something they found difficult and why it's important to study the Holocaust.

Option 2: Using the examples of the stained glass windows at the centre produce one that commemorates the Kindertransport. Students could design this thinking about the colours and images they use and explaining them. They could then make this using tissue paper.

What can we learn from the Kindertransport?

Speak up, stand up
You will see that each piece of work contains two jigsaw pieces. On the first, students were encouraged to show an aspect of one of the testimonies they had heard. On the second, they considered a way in which their identity would help them in standing up for others.

Enter our Arts competition
Every year we ask students to create artwork and to submit it to us. The winners receive a trophy and a £25 voucher.

 Item details…

Victoria Vincent Memorial window: in memory of Victoria Ancona-Vincent, created by Roman Halter and based on a photograph of a woman and children arriving at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Yellow Star: commissioned by Paul, Rudi and Eve Oppenheimer in memory of the Camp at Belsen where they were imprisoned. Created by Roman Halter.

Mother and child: in memory of all the mothers and their children during the Holocaust. Created by Roman Halter.

Photograph taken at The National Holocaust Centre

 Item details…

This is an example of a "Speak up, Stand Up" jigsaw activity.

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Option 1: Create an assembly to showcase all the work you have done using Yarn. Ask students to read their poetry and present their artwork.

Option 2: Create a performance based on the Music option. Students can perform Defiant Requiem. This was performed at Terezin concentration camp when the Red Cross visited the site.

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What was the Holocaust?

Primary definition: The persecution and murder of six million Jewish people that happened under the Nazi regime from 1933 to 1945.

National Holocaust Centre definition: The Holocaust was the attempt by the Nazi regime and its collaborators to murder all of European Jewry during the Second World War. This genocidal policy can be seen to have evolved during the war as the Nazi regime gained more territory, and as more Jewish people came under their control. It culminated in the so called 'Final Solution' , the murder of six million Jewish men, women and children.

The Nazi regime had created policy and legislation to ostracise German Jews and those Jews living in other states occupied by the Nazi regime prior to the Second World War. They also instigated the events of the November Pogrom in 1938.

The Nazi regime also carried out genocidal policies towards those with mental and physical disabilities, Polish and Slav peoples as well as the Roma and Sinti people of Europe.

Furthermore they persecuted other groups including Gay men, Jehovah’s Witnesses, those seen as political dissidents and Soviet Prisoners of War.

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 Item details…

30 brief testimonies of child survivors of the Holocaust, specially written for 10 - 11 year old primary school children and designed to complement the Holocaust Centre's The Journey exhibition. A unique volume covering the whole range of children's experiences - as refugees and Kindertransportees, as hidden children, or surviving in the ghettos and concentration camps.

Books for the class to read

Journeys: Children of the Holocaust tell their stories
30 brief testimonies of child survivors of the Holocaust, specially written for 10 - 11 year old primary school children and designed to complement the Holocaust Centre's The Journey exhibition. A unique volume covering the whole range of children's experiences - as refugees and Kindertransportees, as hidden children, or surviving in the ghettos and concentration camps.

This can be purchased using this link:

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Dear parent/guardian,

During this school year our Year 6’s will be covering the topic of the Kindertransport and the Holocaust through the topic of ‘What can we learn from the Kindertransport?’ The Kindertransport was the evacuation of 10,000 children from Nazi Europe in 1938 to escape Jewish persecution carried out by the Nazis. With our students we are going to focus on the experience of Jewish people and the persecution they faced before World War II and the experiences of children who left Germany and other countries.

We feel it is important to teach this topic for a number of reasons. We think the Holocaust provides the opportunity to learn from the past about prejudice and discrimination so that we can stop it happening in the future. It’s hoped that by building an understanding of the Holocaust it can lead us to value difference and encourage a culture of respect within our community.

Another reason is that we plan to visit The National Holocaust Museum in Laxton, Nottinghamshire to experience ‘The Journey’ tour and listen to a survivor talk. This topic will prepare the students for this visit and enable them to learn from the topic at greater depth.
Our project will be available online at:
The full range of lesson outlines are also available at:

This will enable you to see your child’s work and progress throughout the topic and to give you an understanding of how we are tackling this important topic. These lessons are age appropriate to ensure the topic does not cause worry or upset. It is important to us that your child is able to discuss this work with you.

Please sign and return the attached form so show that you are aware of the class work. If you have any questions or concerns please get in touch.

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