Project Week at Matthias-Claudius-Gymnasium

7th graders research about their schools history

In the week before the fall break, we were at Matthias-Claudius-Gymnasium in Wandsbek. A 7th grade class dealt with the history of their own school.

One group dealt with a request from the Jewish community of Wandsbek from 1913. The community complained to the mayor about the anti-Semitic climate at Matthias-Claudius-Gymnasium. The number of Jewish students at the school had been declining for years. Jewish parents were worried about exposing their sons to anti-Semitic hostility and therefore sent them to school in neighboring Hamburg. The Jewish community feared that the unsatisfactory school situation could cause Jewish families to shy away from moving to Wandsbek.
The mayor took up the community's concern and pointed out to the school's director that the city financed the school out of tax money and that all Wandsbek citizens of any religion were therefore allowed to send their sons to the Matthias-Claudius-Gymnasium. The director, however, did not respond to the accusations, but pointed out that complaints about his conduct of office should be addressed to the superior authority. It is not known whether this happened. What is certain, however, is that Jewish parents continued not to send their sons to this school.
The current students of MCG have not only dealt with the historical incident, but have also considered in what form students are still discriminated against today and how they can be protected from this.

Another group researched the biographies of Jewish former students of MCG. They worked like real historians in the Hamburg State Archives and tried to find out when "their" student graduated, under the guidance of the archive educator Ms. Fleischer. They were amazed at how laborious and time-consuming it can be to unearth historical knowledge in the archive. While exploring the lives of Jewish students, they also looked at what it meant to leave one's homeland and flee. They compared which students left Wandsbek during the Nazi era, when and why, and who stayed and why. They became aware of how difficult it is to make such a decision and how rocky the new beginning in a foreign country can be.