Individuals and primary sources: stories about Holocaust in Norway and the genocide of the Norwegian Roma

The Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies (HL-center)

Content / Topics:

Our project aims to include teaching and learning about the genocide of Norwegian Roma, in our existing educational program about the Holocaust in Norway.

Our educational program aims to teach students and other target groups about the Holocaust in Norway through primary sources connected to Jewish life before, during and after the genocide. Our project is to expand our current teaching material by including primary sources about Norwegian Roma who experienced the genocide. The project is in cooperation with representatives from the Roma community and the cultural center Romano Kher.

The aim is to activate and develop the students’ ability to critical thinking, historical consciousness and diversity competency and provide them with an insight into actual Jewish and Roma life in Norway before they face the stereotypes and conspiracy theories propagated by the perpetrators of the Holocaust.

The Norwegian state’s participation and initiative to exclude Norwegian Roma from Norway in the 1920s and 1930s, were central to why most Norwegian Roma were killed in Auschwitz-Birkenau during the genocide. Most Norwegians have little knowledge about this part of the past, including young Norwegian Roma.

Historical consciousness recognizes that our understanding of the past has meaning for individuals and groups in the present and will shape expectations for the future. By placing this aspect of Holocaust education at the core of our teaching, the many stories and representations is key to producing a responsible and pluralistic memory culture, also for Norwegian Jews and Roma.

Multiperspectivity is a core principle in our educational programs. In this project, we apply multiperspectivity by introducing our students to the history of the Holocaust through a variety of source material, individual voices and contexts. In addition, the dialogue with Roma youth and co-operation with the Roma community provides essential perspectives and insights in how our methods and presentation of Roma history is perceived and how we can adjust and revise. We will continue to build co-operation and projects together to further develop the way we teach about the genocide of Norwegian Roma.

Target groups: pupils 13-18 years old, university students, teachers.

Method / Format:

Our educational program includes:

1) Workshop with primary source material

2) Exploring the Holocaust exhibition, which includes the history of Norwegian Roma

3) Dialogue and discussions

Today, visiting pupils study a set of primary sources and piece together the information in the source material to a coherent story about one individual’s life before, during and after the genocide in a workshop.

In groups of four, they examine the life of different individuals as historians do, creating a story themselves which is not already written. After working together, getting to know the life of individuals through photographs, letter, and transcripts of interviews, passports and documents, the students can explore our exhibition about the Holocaust, the history of racism and antisemitism.

Our aim is to include the history of Norwegian Roma in our existing educational program by extending our source material and cooperate with the Norwegian Roma culture center Romano Kher on how to convey our mutual histories of the past and its’ consequences for the present and future.

This method and approach also allows the educational department to have close cooperation with our archives and documentation department in our search for source material. Thus, our collection is frequently revisited, put on display and discussed.

Language(s): Norwegian.

The Norwegian passport of Czardas Josef from 1930. His Norwegian nationality is scribbled out with a pen by the Norwegian authorities and replaced with “none” instead © Archives générales du royaume (AGR) PdE, A37.441. Josef Czardas

List of prisoners in Zigeunerlager, Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Norwegian Josef-family is listed © Pánstwowe Muzeum Auscwitz-Birkenau Archiwum, BRC 270