Year 10 History excursion – Sydney Jewish Museum

March 9, 2023  
Cohen Roach and Sydney Parker - Year 10

On Friday 3 March, Year 10 History students attended an excursion to the Sydney Jewish Museum as part of our current unit on rights and freedoms. We are completing a case study on the Holocaust to understand the value of sources as evidence for experiences and perspectives of those involved.

We began our time at the museum with a presentation on why these events happened. It was impressed upon us that, in a sense, there is no way to truly understand the Holocaust as it was such a horrific event. Though we must learn what we can so terrible events can be prevented in future. This first part of the excursion, heavily focused on ideology and the ways in which the Nazi’s communicated their ideas to the public. We also learnt how children’s books were often used to influence German children, even encouraging them to report on non complying adults. We then focussed on the Nürnberger Gesetze which stated that Jewish people were no longer citizens in Germany and could not marry Germans. This was founded on the basis of Rassenkunde which is German for race science. We then concluded with learning about the bystanders who allowed the terrible events of the Holocaust to happen, and the upstanders who stood up and fought back. 

After this, we split off into groups and toured around the museum, which featured many artifacts and objects from victims. The museum itself was extremely unique as its shape was a Star of David. The museum was also structured in a chronological formation, with every floor becoming closer and closer to the modern day, and shows how discrimination against Jewish peoples began long before the NSDAP rose to power. One section of the museum highlighted the concentration camps and brutal murders that took place. One interesting, yet heartbreaking part of the tour was a formation of a glass bowl filled with water, with slow droplets representing the tears of the children killed in the Holocaust. There was also a wall next to the bowl which had pictures and names of a series of the aforementioned children, all of which were believed to be under the age of ten.

We ended the tour of the museum with a firsthand presentation from Holocaust survivor Egon Sonnenschein about his personal experiences. He described how the Jewish people weren’t allowed to do most things that other people would do on a regular basis, such as walking in the streets, holding money, etc. He went on to explain how he witnessed Jewish people being executed on a bridge over the Una river, and the many sleepless nights he endured because of it. He also talked about how discrimination still largely existed after World War II had concluded and he had settled in Switzerland. He wasn’t allowed citizenship until 1949, four years after the war ended, and wasn’t allowed to go to school until three years after World War II was over. Sonnenschein described his experiences as difficult and horrible.

This was an incredibly valuable experience to Year 10 History students as it allowed us to further our perspective and knowledge of the world. It was very powerful to be able to hear a firsthand account from a Holocaust survivor and was an enriching and unique experience.


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