Project History in Faces

Project History in Faces



Name: Jacek Jaros (Kielce, Poland), Tsybulska Kateryna, Nataliya Porokhnyak (Ternopil, Ukraine)

A script for lesson based on the Centropa film “Return to Rivne. А Holocaust story” and the interview with Julian Gringras from Centropa database.

School: Gymnasium "Harmony", Halytskyi college, Ternopil, Ukraine; VI Liceum Ogólnokształcące im. Juliusza Słowackiego, Kielce

Categories: This lesson plan can be used in various occasions in order to teach different subjects such as History, Civics, Social and Political Education, ESL etc. It is also useful in discussions about multiculturalism, war and peace, the Second World War, crimes against humanity, genocide and holocausts (e.g. the Jewish Holocaust), modern European history.

Student’s Age: 16-18

Centropa recources : "Return to Rivne. А Holocaust story”

interview with Julian Gringras

Background Information: The lesson requires only basic knowledge about the Second World War, including pre- and post-war periods. Apart from this, it offers equal opportunities to all students (even the weakest ones) to express their opinion and take part in the learning process, because of the relatively simple exercises of creative writing, group work and the use of multimedia.

Methods used: Brainstorming, film demonstration, teamwork, interview, discussion

Objectives (Cognitive/Pedagogical and Skills):

The purpose and objectives:

  • to develop comprehensive skills to analyze the history of the twentieth century through the fate of a person/family;
  • to interest learners in so-called “spoken history” by witnesses of important historical events;
  • to motivate students to study the history of their own family, city, and village;
  • to develop skills to work in groups to achieve common results;
  • to encourage students to search for answers to complex challenges of modern history;
  • to form elements of collecting examples of oral/spoken history;
  • to form skills of presenting a mini project;
  • to develop critical thinking skills;
  • to introduce Centropa films and database to students and teach them how to search the site’s database.



  1. Motivation. Brainstorming the ideas.

The teachers talk about common Ukrainian and Polish history and the importance of cross-cultural communication in our modern globalized world.

  1. Provide social communication in a social network (Social communication, self presentation, school presentation)
  • The teachers create the page of the group using one of the social networks (i.e. Facebook)
  • Ice-breaking activity. Participants are free to express themselves in a post on the page in the social network (they write about everything they like and want to share with others - his/her hobbies, preferences, etc)
  • The next task for students is to make a short presentation about their school, class and hometown in a form of a video or PowerPoint presentation (like PechaKucha) and post it on the page in the social network.

III. Review and discussion of the film "Return to Rivne. А Holocaust story”


Before watching the film “Return to Rivne. А Holocaust story” together with learners, the teachers in the classes talk about Holocaust, racism, anti-Semitism, Racial superiority and exclusivity of the ruling nation, intolerance and discrimination towards other nations and national minorities.

Main part

Activity 1. The teacher introduces the film and provides the main task for the students. The class is divided into 4 groups and each group is given the task to collect information/make notes on the following topics while watching the film:

Group1: The life of the family in prewar period.

Group 2: The story of Shelly Weiner and Raya Kizhnerman during the war.

Group 3: The story of Shelly Weiner and Raya Kizhnerman after the war.

Group 4: People who saved the lives of Jews in the film.

Activity 2. Students watch the film and make notes on their group work task.

Activity 3. Students discuss the topic based information they collected within their groups.

A representative of each group gives an account of the group work discussion.

Concluding activity:

The teachers’ assess students understanding of the theme taught in the classroom by assigning the following homework:

Write an essay, or make a visual project based on the following topics:

  • The story of Shelly Weiner and Raya Kizhnerman
  • Righteous gentile from my country
  • Me in the role of a character from the film
  1. The history of an epoch through the life of one family

Students present their projects done at home.

Teacher recalls that almost all their family members (parents, grandparents, grandmother) have experienced totalitarian regime. The teacher asks students to think about the stories about the state's influence on their family and give examples from the life of their family. So there is a motivation for children to communicate with their (great) grandparents and find out about their family roots.

  1. Skype conference "History in faces".

Students express their thoughts about the film “Return to Rivne. А Holocaust story” and present the stories about the state's influence on their family and give examples from the life of their family.

  1. Students’ project “Julian Gringras”

(Julian Gringras is a Polish Jew from Kiece, Poland and during the WWII lived for some period of time in a village near Ternopi,Ukraine).

• students from both countries created a short film about a Polish Jew Julian Gringras. Polish students prepared the story of his life on the territory of Poland and Ukrainian students worked on presenting his life on the territory of modern Ukraine during WWII and his life after WWII.

• They found the information about him in the Centropa database.

• It helped them to explore the history of his native city Kielce and motivated them to study Ukrainian-Polish relationship.

VII. Presentation of their projects/film.


The project is aimed to investigate the history of the hometown, family history by using the Centropa database. It motivates students from different countries to work cooperatively on exploring and analyzing the world history of the XX century. The result of the project was the film about Julian Gringras created by students from Poland and Ukraine.