The PeaceWorks Human Rights Defenders Programme at Chowringhee High School : Days 4, 5

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16th November

-report by Proiti


For the session on November 16th, Samya and I decided to screen a documentary on the Holocaust. We felt that the students would gain a better understanding of the scope of what happened if they were exposed to real testimonies and footage. After browsing through a series of documentaries on the topic, we selected Witness: Voices From the Holocaust. This documentary, released in 1999 was produced by Joshua M. Greene and Shiva Kumar, who assembled the testimonies of nineteen individuals from Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University. Ranita and I screened the first half hour of the documentary for the students. After the screening we encouraged the students to recall what we had discussed in the previous sessions and find parallels in the footage they just watched. One of the testimonies by a Jewish man who had been humiliated as a schoolboy in the classroom by his Nazi teacher struck a chord among the students. They identified that this was a direct result of the kind of propaganda we had discussed in the previous session. Another common theme in the testimonies was how the Jewish people were betrayed by their friends who had been brainwashed by the Nazis. Ranita offered the students relatable hypothetical situations to encourage them to reflect on the nuances of ‘brainwashing’ and what it entails. We concluded the session encouraging the students to look for other documentaries and films to grasp the magnitude of the atrocities that took place.


30th November

-report by Samyabrata


‘Why do you think we need to know about historical events like the holocaust?’

This was the question of the day for the session on November 30th. In ten minutes each student wrote a page, responding to this question. Proiti and I picked students at random to read their responses and reflect on what the others had written. The responses made us feel hopeful about the sensitivity the students were gradually developing to the relevance of history beyond its role as a school subject. We’ve compiled some of them here.

‘We need to know about the holocaust so that such horrible things are never repeated’, ‘We need to know history so that we can raise our voices for others when they are suffering’, ‘We need to know about these things so that we can put ourselves in the shoes of the victims who faced this cruelty’, ‘We need to know about history so that we can appreciate how far we have come- so that we do not take our rights for granted’.

We concluded the class discussing the need to understand present day affairs in the context of the past and talking about history as a living entity and ever-evolving process.