Historical Modul: "But why didn't they just leave?”
Thematic group work: Jewish emigration and flight during Nazi Germany

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"But why didn't they just leave?” This question draws on a number of complex historical issues that forestall a simple answer. The aim of this module is to convey a basic understanding of these difficulties and complexities in the absence of broad historical background knowledge.

You can find the pdf-version of the learning module on the left side of the website.

Objectives of the group work

* Grasping and visualizing a particular historical “flight-issue” in its complexity
* Learning to ask important fundamental questions regarding this topic and   identifying and understanding the related historical contexts.

Parameters of the group work

Time: two sessions of 45 minutes each
Size of groups: Five groups with 3-5 students each

Preparation and support for instructors 

You will need a stack of index cards and a medium-sized pin board to create a mind-map. Write down the terms FLIGHT |  EMIGRATION on one large index card and the words WHY, WHO, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW on five other, smaller cards. The diagram below is one example of how the findings can be visualized with the help of a pin board and mind-map. In addition, prepare a flip-chart for the subsequent work in smaller groups. The information boxes on this page provide background material, which you may find helpful for leading the discussions and for answering students' questions.

Methods employed

Brainstorming / Collecting questions / Working in large and small groups / Visualization of issues by use of a mind map

Structure of the group work

First stage: approx. 10-15 minutes. Working in one large group.
Explaining the difference between forced migration i.e. flight  and emigration. The students should consider and discuss what differences and what commonalities exist between these two concepts. Their findings should be documented in bullet points on a flip chart.

Second stage: approx. 20-30 minutes. Working in small groups.
The class of students should be divided into five small groups to brainstorm about the following aspects of (forced) migration:
* WHO is involved (social structure of refugees)
* WHY are they involved (motivation)
* WHEN are they involved
* WHERE will they go (receiving countries), and
* HOW they migrate (organization).
A flip-chart with the guiding questions listed below should be set up, visible to everyone.  Each small group should document their answers in bullet points on index cards. If it seems relevant and depending on the target group of students, a particularly pertinent issue can be discussed with the entire class of students. Afterwards, the students should continue to work on all other points and questions in their respective smaller groups.

Guiding questions for work in small groups:
* Who can emigrate?
* What personal, what external conditions need to be satisfied?
* What are reasons against forced migration or emigration?
* Who or what will be left behind?
* Who or what decides when is the right time to emigrate?
* What hurdles need to be overcome?
* What do they require to emigrate?
* What are the criteria for deciding on a potential host country?
* What are the requirements for a successful visa application?
* How can the travel or flight be organized?

Third stage: approx. 30-45 minutes. Presentation and discussion
Attach the big index card with the title FLIGHT | EMIGRATION  at the center of the pin board and arrange the five other cards with the questions around it like flower petals. While each small group presents their results, they will pin their index cards with the answers underneath the corresponding question on the board. The resulting mind map will serve as basis for a final group discussion and perhaps even for further work on the following questions: What are the conceptual differences between flight and emigration? Are some aspects of these differences more significant than others? What aspects are mutually dependent on each other?  What questions remain unanswered? What aspects of this issue should be examined in more detail?

Supplementary Information for the Group Work, see the PDF document on the left side.

Developed by Tanja Lenuweit, Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V., 2012