On Friday 12th June educators from the National Holocaust Centre & Museum delivered an engagement day to 48 Gifted and Talented students from De Ferrers Academy in Burton.

The focus of the day was to explore the extent to which the book 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' was an accurate depiction of the Holocaust.  The students had read the book prior to the event and the day consisted of three workshops which were designed to provide students with the historical context necessary to critique the book.

The first workshop provided students with the opportunity to examine the period 1933 to 1945 with the intention of them determining when the Holocaust began.  The students offered compelling arguments to justify when they believed the Holocaust started with some students suggesting the mid 1920s and others indicating 1938.  The workshop concluded with students being presented with the current debates regarding the starting point of the Holocaust.

This workshop was followed by a further workshop that used primary sources to explore the degree to which Bruno, the young German boy in the book, would have understood the political and social situation in Germany at the time.

After lunch the students watched a documentary of Holocaust survivor Arek Hersh returning to the Lodz ghetto and Auschwitz.  This first hand testimony allowed the students to determine the extent to which the book portrayed an accurate depiction of Auschwitz.

To conclude the day the students produced a critique of the book and produced an extended written response to the question: 'To what extent does the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas provide an accurate depiction of the Holocaust?'

David Griffiths, teacher of Drama and English at De Ferrers Academy, said 'I thoroughly enjoyed the day and gained a lot from it. It was pitched at the right level and the students got a lot from it. The day was well resourced, structured, paced and appropriately challenging. It was lovely to see an English text bought to life in a way that was unique and exciting for the students. The students are still talking about what they have learnt a week later!'  This view was supported by Ellie Austin, aged 13, who found the day to be 'An in-depth experience and new perspective of the Holocuast' and Sophie Carlton-Greaves, aged 13, who said that 'It was an eye opening, emotional day that greatly widened my knowledge on the horrendous features of the Holocaust, and an unforgettable experience.'

The academy's Gifted and Talented Coordinator was full of praise for the National Holocaust Centre and Musuem and said 'We run a full programme of additional experiences for our Gifted and Talented cohort, but I have never seen the students so engaged and focused. They reacted to the subject with great maturity and held thought-provoking discussions and debates with each other and the course leaders. The argument as to whether 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' has a place in historical literature with its factual inaccuracies was dealt with well and provided a fitting end to the day.'

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 for further information regarding the Centre's outreach education programmes or e-mail James Fotheringham if you'd like to arrange to speak to a member of the Centre's education team.