Holocaust in Graphic Novels

Maus and beyond

Graphic Novels are more than „comics for snobs” – they can be a constructive means for mediating complex historical topics to students. In an Israeli-German hybrid class they made the most painful chapter of human history accessible: The Holocaust.

In most cases the Covid-19-pandemic limited international cooperation in education and students’ possibilities get to know people from all over the world. In very few cases it inspired new ways of collaboration, which is the case for this project. Since 2021 the Sapir Academic College in Sderot, Israel, and Stuttgart Media University, Germany, offer a joint online-class, tackling a very sensitive topic: In small binational teams of two or three students they worked on Israeli, German and American graphic novels that touch upon the Holocaust and its commemoration.

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What was it like to work in binational German-Israeli teams? The students who took part in the first round of the project in spring 2021 tell about their experience. | Video: Silas Swab

„The original idea was to do two separate classes in Germany and Israel and then meet for an exchange”, Na'ama Sheffi, professor at the Department of Communications at Sapir College, remembers: „As in spring 2021 we all taught online we decided to do the class together and we found out that this is the perfect way to do it – so we repeated it the same way twice, now including real-life workshops in May 2022 in Germany and May 2023 in Israel.”

In May 2022 the Israeli-German group visited the NS-Documentation Center in Munich and learnt how Hitler came to power.
Quelle: Katarina Bader

In the online meetings the students discussed their interest in the subject, shared their insights about Holocaust memories in their respective countries and families, and formulated a code of behavior for the class. All graphic novels were presented and then – according to interest – teams were formed and worked together very intensively.

In May 2023 the group met in Tel Aviv for almost a week. The trip included intensive group work on the project and a joint visit in Yad Vashem. „The day we went to Yad Vashem together – it was so strong”, Itay Dekel says, „I never spoke with Germans about the holocaust so deeply. I learnt a lot about the topic, about Germany, but also about Israel and myself.”  His German team-partner Leonie Kühn adds: „I really felt that talking and listening helps. It opens up new perspectives.”

In May 2023 an Israeli-German group of students visited Yad Vashem.
Quelle: Katarina Bader

The course is supported by a grant of the regional parliament of Baden Württemberg for Israeli-German exchange programs and is facilitated by the Unit for Academic Internationalization at Sapir Academic College.

All articles are accessible on the project overview page.