Informing Students about the Structures and Dangers of Neo-Nazism in Germany

Project Overview

A workshop to inform high school students about the dangers of neo-Nazism in Germany’s northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Identifying the Problem

Although the proportion of foreigners in the German town of Ueckermünde is relatively small compared to many other cities in the country, neo-Nazism and xenophobia persist. There has been a steady increase in the number of students who sympathize and identify with right-wing ideas and culture. However, many people are not aware that the concept of German society encouraged by the NPD (Germany’s right-wing party) is based on discrimination and the violation of human rights, or that it assigns value to human beings according to their background and gender.

Creating A Solution

In an effort to combat the spread of neo-Nazism, Melanie and Maira decided to conduct a workshop for 9th and 10th grade students at a high school in Ueckermünde. The foremost goal of the workshop was to inform the students about the dangers of neo-Nazism in Germany, particularly the high concentration of neo-Nazi activities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Additionally, the workshop identified the many methods used by the neo-Nazi movement to expand its influence among young people, such as spreading its messages through music and clothing. Many of these messages are not obvious, since they are often presented as codes or symbols, and teenagers can wind up inadvertently advertising for the neo-Nazi movement. 

Furthermore, the workshop educated the students about the NPD’s activities in the region and the threat posed by the neo-Nazism ideology. “We tried to explain to the pupils that the ideologies and worldviews of neo-Nazis are not harmless but instead display a real danger and threat to democracy and also to the individual, as it is really difficult to leave neo-Nazi structures once you get involved in them,” says Melanie. A portion of the interactive workshop was devoted to having a conversation with the students about common prejudices and then providing examples for how to invalidate such prejudices. 

It took a couple of months for Melanie and Maira to develop and implement the workshop. They spent about a month planning the workshop, during which they conducted research and spoke with people who could give them helpful information and materials. They then reviewed all of the materials they had gathered and compiled the information to produce lessons and interactive exercises for the students.

Lessons Learned

The obvious risk of conducting an interactive workshop is that the success of the workshop depends on the active participation of those attending. At first, some of the students were rather reluctant to participant in the activities. However, as the students became more comfortable with Melanie and Maira, they not only engaged in full participation, but did so eagerly. It is important to remember that workshop participants, especially high school students, can often feel uncomfortable about participating in interactive exercises. Thus, it is helpful to design your workshop in a way that takes into account that the more the participants get to know those who are conducting the workshop, the more comfortable they will feel participating in it.

Get Involved!

Melanie and Maira believe that their workshop can be implemented at other German schools, and would love to help make it happen. If you  would like their advice on how to conduct a similar workshop, or would be interested in using their workshop materials, please contact Melanie or Maira via email.

Funding

Melanie and Maira did not raise any money for this project, and the expenses were extremely low. Much of the educational material they used during their workshop had been created by various civic education organizations that are engaged in anti-racism activities. Melanie and Maira reached out to those organizations and ordered leaflets and other materials directly from them. All other resources were provided by the high school that hosted the workshop.

Share this Project

About This Project

HIA Program:

Poland Poland 2012

Developed by:

Related Media

Browse all content