Best FriendsBest Friends by Elisabeth Reuter. Yellow Brick Road Press: Germany, 1993.
This book was first published in German under the title Judith and Lisa in 1988. It is the story of the changes in the relationship of two very close girlfriends, one Jewish and one not, living in Nazi Germany.This story shows the propaganda taught in the schools and the impact on the children. Kristallnacht, "night of the broken glass" is described in this book.Suggested activities:
1. Have students research Kristallnacht. During the research, have them find some direct quotes from people who either witnessed the event, or were victims of the event. Students can then write a news article from either point of view (the victim or the bystander). A good resource to find information is From Heinrich Muller to All GestapoOfficers Regarding Kristallnacht
Another resource on Kristallnacht is entitled "Kristallnacht: The November 1938 Pogroms - Online Exhibition" www.ushmm.org/kristallnacht
2. Discuss what propaganda means. Have students point out examples from the story, such as what was taught in school by the teacher and the materials read in school
(Der Giftpilz; known in English as The Poisonous Mushroom).
Read the English translation and have students express how they feel about this book, and how it would effect a young child.
3. Watch the film Friendship in Vienna. This film is based on the book, Devil in Vienna by Doris Orgel. This movie is about the relationship of Inge, a Jewish girl and Lise, the daughter of a Nazi official. The setting is in 1938 in Vienna, Austria. It is extremely well-documented, sensitively presented, and is suitable for grades 6-8. It stars Ed Asner and Jane Alexander and is 94 minutes long.
4. For children to see how propaganda was used in the classroom in Nazi Germany, read Chapter 2 (pp.11-19) of Daniels Story by Carol Matas, copyright 1993. This chapter is about Daniels experience in school and his encounter with a Hitler Youth member in 1936-37. After reading this chapter discuss the results of propaganda on young people.
5. Because the story ends without us knowing what happened to Judith and her family, a good follow-up activity would be to have students write a different ending to the book. What happened to Judith and her family? The story could revolve around either life in a ghetto or life in a new country that the family had emigrated to.