What Could They Know? Successful Piloting of Learning Activities on Censorship in Frankfurt

On 8 and 9 November 2016 the Learning Activity What Could They Know? developed within the EuroClio project Silencing Citizens through Censorship was successfully piloted at the Max Beckmann School, a regular gymnasium in Frankfurt, Germany. The class working with the material consisted of 25 students (15 boys and 10 girls) ranging between 16-18 years of age and with some having migratory background from different countries (Turkey, Italy, Kosovo, Serbia, Poland).

The material was tested in a three hours lessons by Michael Fischer, the history teacher of the class, and dealt with the November Pogroms 1938 and what the people could have known about the incident. The chosen date for the piloting was also an act of remembrance as the ‘Crystal Night’ (Kristallnacht) took place exactly 78 years ago. Different teaching pedagogies were employed during the lesson such as working in pairs, working in small groups and discussion in the classroom.

Feedback was again primarily positive. The students found the topic very engaging and thought-provoking and responded that the activity gave them a general insight into the concept of censorship. Through historical examples of censorship the students were encouraged to critically reflect on on-going discussions throughout Europe on freedom of speech and its limits.
They particularly enjoyed working with original documents such as analysing the regulations of the German News Agency on the assassination of the Legation Secretary von Rath in Paris and the advices for the reports on the „Kristallnacht“. They also found the sources, a report by the Manchester Guardian and a Jewish witness interesting and discussed the impact of the advices and possibilities of alternative information sources in a totalitarian regime.

The piloting in Frankfurt confirmed that the concept of the learning activity itself is working. However, the worksheet, which was used as a starting point for the unit and shows some regulations by the German News Agency in 1937 needs more contextualisation.

New Online Educational Resources About Censorship History in 20th Century Europe are Launched and Freely Available!

On 3 April 2017, EuroClio had the honour to launch its new Historiana unit called ‘Silencing Citizens through Censorship’ at its 24th EuroClio Annual Conference in Donostia-San Sebastian. The launch ceremony has been attended by more than 130 people from 33 countries across the world.

The unit offers ready to use engaging and thought-provoking resources on striking historical examples of censorship during the dictatorial and totalitarian regimes in Europe through the collection, multi-perspective sources and innovative methodologies. This learning unit explores European history to help students understand how censorship worked, what the effect was on ordinary people and what this means for societies today in which free information and power continue to be entangled.

This unit came into live as a result of the EuroClio project ‘Silencing Citizens through Censorship. Learning from Europe’s 20th-Century Dictatorial & Totalitarian Past’. This project involved a transnational group of history and citizenship educators from EuroClio’s member Associations in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, and Spain in the development and implementation of students-driven projects on censorship in Europe’s 20th century dictatorial and totalitarian regimes.

The new unit offers historical context on different aspects of censorship in Franco’s Spain (1936 – 1975), Vichy France (1940 – 1945), Nazi Germany (1933-1945), Mussolini’s Italy (1922 – 1943), the post-1945 Hungarian ( – 1990) and Polish Republics (1944 – 1989) and the Republic of Macedonia as part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito (1945 – 1980). In addition to this, the country cases chosen have all been captured in timeline of ten essential turning points, or key moments. By showing these key moments in a comparative timeline, students are able to look at developments across different places and times, and draw conclusions on connections between certain events.

Learning activities, teaching strategies and source collections are available within the chapters of ‘Censorship in action’, ‘Heritage of censorship’ and ‘The bigger picture’ of the unit.

We welcome you to view the new HISTORIANA unit ‘Silencing Citizens through Censorship’ and encourage you to use it in practice or disseminate among your interested public.

Workshop on Censorship in Nazi Germany in the Italian Classroom

In January 2017, Maria Laura Marescalchi, an author of “Silencing Citizens through Censorship”, organized a workshop using the resources of the project’s learning activity on “What Could They Know?” – which is developed by Martin Liepach, a German author of the project – with her students at Liceo Scientifico “Tassoni” in Modena.

The workshop helped to find out how the learning activity worked in practice. During the workshop, students had a chance to discuss how censorship functioned in the hands of the Nazis and what the tools were. Participants were proposed to do some practical exercises: for instance, to explain the reasons and logic of Press Advices given by the German News Agency in 1937. Students reflected widely on questions like “What news was allowed to be published in newspapers and what was not?”, “What kind of public image did censors try to evoke among newspaper readers?”, “How were Germany and the world supposed to be represented according to Press Advices?” et cetera.

Participants were provided with additional sources, such as reports, newspapers, and photos, to reconstruct the chase of events and compare how different observers in other parts of Germany reacted to pogroms. Finally, students were asked to read an opinion of prominent American historian Peter Gay, who tried to explain the reasons of what happened in Germany. Students were later asked to write a private letter to a friend or relative in which, as a witness of pogroms, they should express their thoughts and impressions of the burning synagogues. Both teachers and students pointed out the use of the variety of sources and cooperation in groups as an excellent practice. At the same time, working in English and writing feedback was marked as an exciting task by the students.

The final project results will be launched during the 24th EuroClio Annual Conference in San Sebastian.


Silencing Citizens Through Censorship

Silencing Citizens Through Censorship: Piloting in Spain yields good results

On 25 and 28 November 2016, several Learning Activities developed within the European project Silencing Citizens through Censorship were successfully piloted by Harri Beobide at the Professional Training Centre Ikastolen Etxea in Donostia-San Sebastian and Urretxindorra ikastola in Bilbao, both Spain.

Five modules: Censorship in Nazi Germany, Is Censorship Still Alive?, Ideas still dangerous in the present?, Dangerous Art, Education and Censorship in totalitarian regimes and What could they know? were piloted over the course of two sessions lasting two hours each and constituted a complementary part of a teacher training involving 58 history teachers from 45 different schools. The workshops provided the teachers with the opportunity to learn about innovative teaching methods in the field of history education and hence to improve their teaching strategies and methodology.

Each session started with a general introduction to the project and the Historiana portal. Then the teachers were divided into groups of four and given two different learning activities each. This gave the teachers the chance to analyse one activity in depth while getting a general idea of the materials developed within this project.

After evaluating the structure of the material, the various sources and different types of tasks for students the teachers were asked to voice their thoughts and feedback. The feedback was predominantly positive with teachers responding that they found the activities interesting and thought-provoking. They particularly stressed the variety of sources and their international character as good aspects. They also felt that comparing sources from different countries and different time periods encourages students to make connections between the past and the present and helps them to develop their ability to think critically and in multiple perspectives. The open character of the tasks gives students the possibility to come up with different answers which encourages them to think creatively. This can lead to discussions among students, developing their ability to debate, agree but also disagree. Such activities, according to the teachers, enrich the students’ learning process as a whole. Most teachers responded that they would like to use the modules to complement their own lessons.

However, the teachers saw difficulties with the complexity of the modules as many tasks require an advanced level of historical knowledge. They suggested to include variations of certain tasks and activities, so that they can be used for a wider range of age groups.

Read more about the Silencing Citizens Through Censorship project on our project page.



Silencing Citizens Through Censorship: Lessons on censorship in Hungarian schools

On 19 and 21 April and 8 November 2016 learning activities developed within the EuroClio project Silencing Citizens through Censorship were successfully piloted by Zsolt Vódli in Hungary.

The first piloting event in spring took place in the form of two workshops on Hungary’s dictatorial past and censorship at the vocational school Roth Gyula Erdészeti, Faipari Szakközépiskola és Kollégium, reaching out to a total of 57 students between 18-20 years of age. The focus during the workshops was on the concept and mechanisms of censorship, parallel developments between then past and the present and relevance for the student’s personal life. The content of the workshop was part of the final history examination which 12 students excelled, receiving the highest grade.

On 8 November 2016 the learning activity Isn’t it a great time for censorship? was tested during a two-hour lesson on 24 students with an average age of 16. The lesson started with a plenary discussion on censorship where students got the opportunity to share impressions, associations, opinions as well as personal experiences with censorship. They then got tasked with critically analysing records provided by the Index of Censorship (IoC) to learn about current problems regarding censorship around the world.  After studying two original visual sources from Poland under the communist regime the pupils were presented with the topic of blocking information with the example of the iron curtain during the Cold War era.

Feedback was primarily positive with students responding that they found the activity engaging and thought-provoking, finding many examples of censorship from their personal and their parents’ lives. Suggestions were to slightly restructure and redesign the power point presentation and to improve the picture quality of the visual sources. Language presented the main obstacle as they were studying either English or German, making it necessary for the teacher to translate the material beforehand.

Project Update: Silencing Citizens Through Censorship in 2016

As 2016 comes towards an end, it is time for an update on how our exciting project on Silencing Citizens Through Censorship (SCC) is going. As of December 2016, more than 570 people have been directly reached through this project, with many more expected in 2017.  This project update will take you on a quick ride through the project description, the learning activities that were piloted in 2016, and the future plans for the SCC-project.

Project description

The project involves a transnational group of history and citizenship educators from EuroClio’s member Associations in France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Macedonia, Poland, and Spain in the development and implementation of students-driven projects on censorship in Europe’s 20th century dictatorial and totalitarian regimes. The focus will be on the history of Franco’s Spain (1936 – 1975), Vichy France (1940 – 1945), Nazi Germany (1933-1945), Mussolini’s Italy (1922 – 1943), the post-1945 Hungarian ( – 1990) and Polish Republics (1944 – 1989) and the Republic of Macedonia as part of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito (1945 – 1980). During the project the team members have developed engaging and thought-provoking resources on striking historical examples of censorship with their students through the collection, compilation and analysis of multi-perspective sources.

The busy and productive year of 2016

This year has been an intense and busy year for the team of the SCC project. The first development meeting in Bologna in January, the second development meeting in Budapest in June, and the concluding final development meeting in Skopje in December has required hard work and perseverance from the team members and EuroClio alike. In between these development meetings, the team has had frequent online meetings, and organised workshops and piloting events in their respective countries. SCC Project manager Aysel Gojayeva has been delighted with how the team has come together;

This team is quite unique. The way that they have come together and worked hard despite strict deadlines and busy professional and personal lives has been very impressive. I am also impressed with how well the team dynamics have played out, and how they all seem to get along exceptionally well whenever we held meetings and worked on materials. As a cherry on the top, the quality of the materials that have been developed has been great to witness, and I am especially happy with the level of trans-nationality of the sources in the materials that have been developed, and how eager the team members have been to pilot both their own and other team member’s materials.

Learning activities piloted

Above you can see an overview of what, when, and where the learning activities of the SCC project has been piloted this year. Reporting on these piloted events are available in the right column “latest news” on the project site.

In addition, two source collections (When Books Burn and State Security Knows Best) and two teaching strategies (Archives and Messages of the monumentals) are currently being developed in their final stages.

Plans for 2017

As the project moves into its final phase, the team members are working hard on incorporating the feedback received from piloting and reviewing the materials. In addition, more piloting is expected in the beginning of 2017, as the team finalizes and prepares for the full project launch and workshop at EuroClio’s annual conference in San Sebastian.

Keeping up with the developments

If you want to follow the developments of the Silencing Citizens Through Censorship project, you can keep up through our Facebook group and Facebook page where news articles are shared, by signing up for our newsletter, and frequently checking the project page below, where all news relating to the project are shared.


Would you like to play in the orchestra? Lessons on Censorship in Action in Modena, Italy

On 21 November 2016 Maria Laura Marescalchi piloted the learning activity ‘Would you like to play in the orchestra’ in Modena, Italy, with 19 students with an average age of 18 years. The learning activity was developed within the transnational project Silencing Citizens through Censorship – Learning from Europe’s 20th-century dictatorial & totalitarian past which aims at developing resources on striking historical examples of censorship.

The activity was tested in a two-hour lesson forming part of a larger module on Fascism. Marescalchi used the previous lesson to familiarize the students with the context of the aftermath of World War 1 in Italy and the origins and rise of Fascism until Mussolini’s appointment to the position of Prime Minister. This made it possible to start with the learning activity without prior introduction to the topic. The students were divided into four groups consisting of 4-5 students each and received copies of original sources and corresponding worksheets.

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive with ¾ of the students responding that they enjoyed the lesson. They found working with original sources particularly engaging and felt encouraged to discuss and compare their opinions on the sources within the group. They, however, pointed out low quality of some images and the lack of sufficient time to reflect on and complete all tasks.

Read more about the project here silencing citizens through censorship.


Forbidden Women: Learning Activity Piloted in Skopje

On December 3rd and 4th, Association of History Teachers of Macedonia – (ANIM) hosted the final development meeting of the Silencing Citizens through Censorship project. The final development meeting covered a lot of concentrated work and technical improvement of materials by the authors as well as reflection on the developments and next steps of the project. As a part of this convening, two of the authors Harri Beobide and Maria Laura Marescalchi lead a workshop based on the learning activity Forbidden Women which gives insight into how the role of how women were manipulated, censored, and their lives shaped during various authoritarian regimes in the 20th century.

The piloting workshop was a diverse and interactive one, with 22 participants mostly from Skopje, one from Gostivar, and three from Stip. In addition, the rest of the project team participated and moderated the discussion in groups. Furthermore, it proved to engage the participants who discussed, created, and presented their findings and answers to questions by creating an exhibition for the other groups to learn from as well.

Workshop participants learning from the exhibition










In general, feedback from participants was positive; the activity was well-received, interactive, engaging, and offered multiple perspectives. A majority of the teachers said they found the material interesting enough to use it in their own teaching due to its relevance and gender focus, and were happy with the amount of different sources; both in type and in content. Some of the suggestions for improvement were to add more sources, to combine the activity with other activities such as visiting museums and adding more digital solutions to the activity.

The educational resources developed in this project will be embedded to the Historiana portal which will be relaunched during the upcoming EuroClio Annual Conference in Donostia-San Sebastian (2-7) April.

Dangerous Art: Piloting workshop in Ohrid, Macedonia

In the beginning of November 2016, the History Teachers’ Association of Macedonia (ANIM) successfully conducted a total of four workshops in two parallel session where the learning activities developed in the project Silencing Citizens through Censorship were piloted. The facilitators of the workshops, Mire Mladenovski and Bisera Srceva, presented the learning activities to an audience of 70 history teachers from all over Macedonia and gained essential feedback for future improvements of the activities.

Two learning activities were piloted: the already completed activity titled ‘Dangerous Art’ and ‘The Music and Arts: Then and Now’, an activity still in its development stages.

Taking into account challenges caused by working with 35 people at once, the teachers were divided into groups of around six people. When composing the group the organisers made sure of mixing participants from the Macedonian and the Albanian community, history teachers and history student teachers, as well as from different age groups. During the final part of the workshop sessions, the teachers convened around one table to discuss impressions, opinions and to collect general feedback.

The general response was that the teachers found the learning activities to be very engaging and interesting for the students. They particularly highlighted the fact that the learning activities contained sources like popular songs, comics, and poems was very positive, noting that students usually are more attentive when being presented with audio and visual sources by the teacher.

Although the learning activities were originally foreseen for high school students aging from 16 – 18 years, many of the teachers suggested that with small adaptations in methodology and approach, the activities could also be used for students in 9th (final) grade of primary schools.

Censuring the Censor: Studying censorship in Lyon during World War II like a historian

On 26 May and 10 November 2016 Caroline Morel, from APHG France, successfully piloted two Learning Activities at Lycée Jean Perrin in Lyon, France: archival research as a teaching strategy and Censoring the Censor. Both learning activities were developed within the European project Silencing Citizens through Censorship. Learning from Europe’s 20th Century Dictatorial and Totalitarian Regimes.

On 26 May 12 students including an educator, took part in the two-hour workshop on censorship which consisted of a theoretical session complemented by an active part at the Municipal Archives of Lyon (Archives municipales de Lyon ). The theoretical part aimed at introducing the students to the concept of censorship, its mechanism and its application during the Vichy Regime in France from 1940-42. They also learned more on the fall of the 3rd Republic, the end of democratic freedoms and the armistice on 10 July 1940. For the active component of the lesson the students then had the opportunity to apply the knowledge they acquired before on censorship by studying various original documents at the archive.

At the same time a parallel workshop was held by Brice Rosier Laperrousaz at the Departmental and Metropolitan Archives of Rhône (Archives Départementales et Métropolitaines du Rhône).
The objective of the workshops were to offer students the possibility to become acquainted with historical research and terminology through the use of archival records but also to recognise parallels between developments in the past and present.

On the 10 November 38 students , including four teachers, a language assistant and one parent, took part in a pilot of the second learning activity Censoring the Censor, organised as a ‘History Coffee Break’. Students got tasked with studying and comparing sources from the Archives of Lyon and Rhône as well as from six other countries represented in the transnational EuroClio project. The activity aimed at encouraging students to think of creative solutions when being confronted with censorship and at understanding democratic values.
Last, EuroClio would like to express our thanks to Marie Maniga and Michel Gablin who are educator at the Archive and without whose help these pilots would not have been possible.