2019 | 9 | 1 | 225-243
Article title

Reclaiming a Dwelling Place: How a German History Learning Community Handles Traumatic Memories of Shoah Witnesses

Title variants
Languages of publication
This paper describes the results of an empirical study in which the objective was to find out how traumatic narratives by Shoah survivors are handled in a classroom setting. The study was conducted using an ethnographic approach by means of which a history lesson sequence was observed and analysed. The teaching medium of the lesson was a digitised presentation of memories by Shoah survivors. The description of the lesson establishes how teachers and students negotiate the difficult terrain of an emotional engagement with the testimonies. The findings are discussed by elaborating on the meaning of traumatic memories for the witnesses, and in turn by asking what it means to listen to the telling of such memories. Conclusions are drawn about the overall meaning of (history) education.
Physical description
  • Alavi, B. (2013). Herausforderungen an eine ‘Erziehung nach Auschwitz’ in der multikulturellen Gesellschaft. In H.-F. Rathenow, B. Wenzel, N.H. Weber (Eds.). Handbuch Nationalsozialismus und Holocaust (pp. 79–94). Schwalbach am Taunus.
  • Assmann, J. (1991). Die Katastrophe des Vergessens. Das Deuteronomium als Paradigma kultureller Mnemotechnik. In A. Assmann & D. Harth (Eds.). Mnemosyne. Formen und Funktionen der kulturellen Erinnerung (pp. 337–355). Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer Wissenschaft.
  • Boler, M. (1997). The risks of empathy: Interrogating multiculturalism’s gaze. Cultural Studies, 11(2), 253–273.
  • Boler, M. (1999). Feeling Power. Emotions and Education. New York: Routledge.
  • Church, J. (2010). Ethnographic approaches to education research. Retrieved from
  • Confino, A. (2014). A World Without Jews. The Nazi Imagination from Persecution to Genocide. Yale: Yale University Press.
  • Eppert, C. (2002). Entertaining History: (Un)heroic Identifications, Apt Pupils, and an Ethical Imagination. New German Critique, 86, 71–101.
  • Felman, Sh. (1992). Education and Crisis, Or the Vicissitudes of Teaching. In S. Felman & D. Laub (Eds.). Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (pp. 1–56). New York: Routledge.
  • Geertz, C. (1973). The Interpretation of Cultures. Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books Inc. Publishers.
  • Greve, A. (2014). Zachor – Erinnern lernen. Aktuelle Entdeckungen in der jüdischen Kultur des Erinnerns. Berlin: epubli GmbH.
  • Heschel, A. J. (1955). The Insecurity of Freedom: Essays in Human Existence. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Kindle Edition)
  • Heyl, M. (2013). Mit Überwältigendem überwältigen? Emotionen in KZ Gedenkstätten. In J. Brauer & M. Lücke (Eds.). Emotionen, Geschichte und historisches Lernen. Geschichtsdidaktische und geschichtskulturelle Perspektiven (pp. 239–259). Göttingen: V&R Unipress.
  • Juni, S. (2016). Survivor guilt: A critical review from the lens of the Holocaust. International Review of Victimology, 22(3), 321–337.
  • Langer, L. (1991). Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory. Connecticut: Yale University Press
  • Langer, L. (2006). Hearing the Holocaust. Poetics Today, 27, 297–309.
  • Laub, D. (1992). Bearing Witness or the Vicissitudes of Listening. In S. Felman & D. Laub (Eds.). Testimony: Crises of Witnessing in Literature, Psychoanalysis, and History (pp. 57–74). New York: Routledge.
  • Meseth, W., Proske, M. (2010). Mind the Gap: Holocaust education in Germany, between pedagogical intentions and classroom interactions. Prospects, 40, 201–222.
  • Moeran, B. (2007). From Participant Observation to Observant Participation: Anthropology, Fieldwork and Organizational Ethnography. Creative Encounters. Retrieved from
  • Morat, D. (2008). Verstehen als Gefühlsmethode. Zu Wilhelm Diltheys hermeneutischer Grundlegung der Geisteswissenschaften. In D. Morat & U. Jensen (Eds.). Rationalisierungen des Gefühls. Zum Verhältnis von Wissenschaft und Emotionen 1880–1930 (pp. 101–117). München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.
  • Morgan, K, (2018a). How do traumatic Shoah-witness testimonies fit into German History Education? Forum Pedagogiczne, 1, 273–285. Doi:
  • Morgan, K. (2018b). ‘It was not hundreds of thousands, but one, plus one, plus one, plus one’ – emotions and empathy in history learning with Shoah survivors. Testimony – Between History and Memory, 126, 102–111.
  • Patterson, D. (2005). Hebrew Language and Jewish Thought. New York: Routledge Curzon.
  • Patterson, D. (2006). Wresting with the Angel. Towards a Jewish Understanding of the Nazi Assault on the Name. St Paul, MN: Paragon House.
  • Proske, M. (2009). Moralerziehung im Geschichtsunterricht. Zwischen expliziter Vermeidung und impliziter Unvermeidlichkeit. In J. Hodel & B. Ziegler (Eds.). Forschungswerkstatt Geschichtsdidaktik (pp. 44–53). Bern: h.e.p Verlag.
  • Scherr, A., & Schäuble, B. (2007). ‘Ich habe nichts gegen Juden, aber…’ Ausgangsbedingungen und Perspektiven gesellschaftspolitischer Bildungsarbeit gegen Antisemitismus. Berlin: Amadeu Antonio Stiftung. Retrieved from
  • Schulze, W.M. (2016, September). Wie die Zeit aus der Geschichte verschwindet. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Feuilleton, 25.09.2016. Retrieved from
  • Seixas, P., & Peck, C. (2004). Teaching Historical thinking. In A. Sears, & I. Wright (Eds.). Challenges and Prospects for Canadian Social Studies (pp. 109–117). Vancouver: Pacific Educational Press.
  • Silvermann, K. (1996). The Threshold of the Visible World. London und New York: Routledge.
  • Simon, R.I. (2000). The Paradoxical Practice of Zakhor: Memories of `What Has Never Been My Fault or My Deed`. In I.S. Roger, S. Rosenberg, & C. Eppert (Eds.). Between Hope and Despair: Pedagogy and the Remembrance of Historical Trauma (pp. 9–25). Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Simon, R.I., & Eppert, C. (1997). Remembering Obligation: Pedagogy and the Witnessing of Testimony of Historical Trauma. Canadian Society for the Study of Education, 22(2), 175–191.
  • Walford, G. (2008). How to do Educational Ethnography, London: The Tufnell Press.
  • Wein, D., Brauer, J., & Barricelli, M. (2009). Zeugen der Shoah: Historisches Lernen mit lebensgeschichtlichen Videointerviews. Das Visual History Archive des Shoah Foundation Institute in der schulischen Bildung. Medaon, 3. Retrieved from
  • Welzer, H. (Ed.) (2001). Das Soziale Gedächtnis. Geschichte, Erinnerung, Tradierung. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition.
  • Yerushalmi, Y.H. (1982). Zakhor. Jewish History and Jewish Memory. Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.
Document Type
Publication order reference
YADDA identifier
JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.