Hungarian Students Use Visual History Archive in School Project “Jewish Fates on the Common Border”

Fri, 06/20/2014 - 5:00pm

High school students from Sopron, Hungary, have created a traveling exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportations of Jews from Hungary during World War II, drawing from USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive for their research.

The exhibition – consisting of text and photographs – introduces the history of the Austria-Hungary border and the intertwining fates of Jews in the region. Many of the Jews who had escaped to Hungary from Burgenland, Austria, were  persecuted and deported after the Nazi invasion of Hungary, and death marches of Hungarian Jews in the winter of 1944-45 led across Burgenland on the way to Mauthausen and Gunskirchen.

Students from Dániel Berzsenyi Lutheran High School in Sopron worked in small groups to research local Jewish life stories. They were looking for stories that help understand the local and regional Jewish history. Aided by their teachers and local experts, students used existing written and online resources including the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, where they found testimonies of survivors of the region. The exhibition includes an archival photo of survivor Kiss Lászlóné Latzer Éva, which the students obtained from the Visual History Archive.

The exhibition opened first at Bilingual Federal High School in Oberwart, Burgenland, Austria, attended by local dignitaries. A week later it returned to be displayed at Dániel Berzsenyi Lutheran High School. It will continue to travel the region once school starts in September.

“It was amazing to see the enthusiasm the students started to jump into research. They worked hard, kept to the deadlines, had creative ideas regarding the exhibit,” said Dániel Locsmándi, history and Latin teacher at Dániel Berzsenyi Lutheran High School, Sopron, who was the mentor of the project. “With this project the students reached another level of learning: they could engage with a significant part of history.”