„the East“ and „the West“ in a little Western German village…

Until now my project is nothing but a theoretical idea and maybe the implementation will be not that easy in the end. Here you can read my first ideas about it. Maybe I will also change the topic or focus during the working process (for example I could imagine a shift from focussing on the cold war era to East – West stereotypes or something totally different).

I’m glad for any kind of feedback and helpful ideas!

Topic and content

To deal with history and especially the history of Eastern and Western Germany (and the whole world that was shaped by the iron curtain) is probably an easy thing to do in Berlin. But what about a small village in the South West of Germany that is on the one hand not that old itself and on the other hand there are no visible signs of remembrance or even traces of a former separated world and society? This is the starting point for my little project.

Postkarten_4My mother and one of my brothers are living in a village called Friedrichstal (it’s close to Karlsruhe in Baden-Württemberg). This village has around 5000 inhabitants and was founded at the end of the 17th century by refugees that were driven out of France, Belgium and Switzerland because of religious reasons. Nowadays this village is a quite sleepy one: there is a school, a football and sports club (and probably some more clubs), a protestant and a catholic church, a stop for the tram to the next town, even a station for the regional train, a small industrial zone. So nothing really special. No lovely old village center – instead of this the biggest parts are single family houses starting from the ’60s including a growing larger settlement of family houses that are built within the last years. Most of the people are working outside of Friedrichstal.

So how it’s possible to implement a project about the time of the iron curtain and its consequences in such a surrounding? This is the challenge I would like to take up.

Target group

Together with a friend my brother is leading a children group. The kids are at the age of around ten up to twelve years and they are meeting each Friday. This offer is connected to the youth work of the local catholic parish but in reality they never really spend time on religious or spiritual contents, it’s more about playing group games and offering outside activities – so it can be seen more as a part of the local youth welfare work (at least in the group of my brother and his friend).

I decided to take this group of children as the target group of my little project because I can have quite easy access to this group of kids through my brother.

Pedagogical goals

* spreading awareness for a society that is shaped by socio-historical backgrounds

* offering information about the cold war era

* evoking interest in and curiosity for history

Pedagogical approach and methods

* action research → there are no “natural” places that are depicting symbols for the cold war era, but I will spread some material at several places (maybe five) in the village where the kids can get information or impressions (so it’s a bit more like a treasure hunt) and in the end they are sharing what they have seen/heard/read/thought

* contemporary witness (living library)→ if possible I would like to provide one station with a person that experienced the GDR (maybe my mother could do this) and that could tell some personal impressions and stories; if not possible I would use some audio material

I’m open for ideas/suggestions/hints for material that I could use for this kind of setting (what means: no actual places of remembrance, so that I have to


The evaluation I will separate in two parts: On the one hand I want the kids to give me a anonymous feedback. For this I’m planning to use the method “suitcase, question mark, garbage bin”. This means that in the end of the project the kids will have the possibility to write or draw on different coloured papers what they have learned todicons-feedbackkarten-gray (suitcase), which questions they still have in mind (question mark) and what they didn’t like or what was unnecessary in their opinion (garbage bin). If possible I will try to answer the written questions in the final circle.

On the other hand I want to do a reflection on my own acting and how the project was working. For this I don’t have yet a good idea for a useful method. Any suggestions?

Agreements with local partners

My local partner for this project is my brother and his friend who are leading this youth group together.

Timetable and milestones

* May → looking for useful material

* beginning of June → preparation of the single stations of the action research (incl the material, the questionnaires for the groups)

* one week before the project: introducing myself and informing the kids that there will be a special offer next week

* 17. or 24.06.: doing the project

* after the project: self-evaluation

3 thoughts on “„the East“ and „the West“ in a little Western German village…”

  1. I would like to be there and see how the community shares inter-generational experiences of day to day life. It’s also interesting to see how much had already been passed, to see how theories on communicational memory confirm or not 😀
    Maybe involve more actors of the community? Teachers, shop keepers, older politicians? Only if you know any 😛

  2. Maybe you should encourage the children to talk to people living in the village and collect memories about the Cold War period (political problems, stereotypes, fears and so on) and then to compare those memories with what they know about this period of time from books or from teaches. They should write a diary for example. It is just an idea. Good luck!

  3. thanks for your ideas and comments! but unfortunately i have to say that my project didn’t take place in the end… the kids group was a lot younger and smaller than I thought. and also my time in Friedrichstal (the village) was quite limited because I spend there only 4 weeks (it’s not my usual living place) and I was doing a full-time internship in the city nearby. so sorry for this… but maybe we can work with my basic ideas when we meet in Bucharest.

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