Creating a display about WWII requires careful preparation. I wanted to attract attention but realized that it is a sensitive subject that easily can hurt or anger people. How could I give full credit to the theme without restricting myself too much so that the display became boring or, on the other hand, overdoing it and became too graphic or confronting?
Looking for inspiration at the Second World War section of our library I came across an impressive book by a man who collected lots of letters from people who had survived the concentration camps. I decided to use parts of those personal statements and Googled for letters from 'the inside'.
During the Holocaust, Jews throughout Europe were required to wear a yellow Star on their jackets. Especially the star with the barbed wire, which represents for me the horror of the Nazi labour camps such as Dachau and Auschwitz fitted this display.
From respected citizens people became targets in the blink of and eye – fallen from grace…..as leaves from a tree.
We are all stars in the eyes of our loved-ones. There is also a myth that explains the stars as being the souls of the dead people. The title: 'Fallen stars' refers to all those souls who fell and sparkle above us or those who survived and sparkle among us.
What you need:
- Personal letters or descriptions from WWII survivors
- Google Images (creative commons) yellow star of David and copy it to a Word document. Increase some in size and decrease others to create three different sizes
- Laminate the stars and cut to shape
- Title – Word text effects for the border around the letters – printed, laminated and cut to shape
- Black card for the background of the title
- Carton boxes
- Wrapping paper in a grey or black colour to cover the boxes
What to do:
- Copy lots of letters and descriptions: I increased the size of some and decreased others. To create a sense of destruction I tore the edges around the copies and put those rough scraps of paper again on the copy machine – randomly over and under each other – and copied them as one item to A3. These sheets are the basis of the bottom part of the display
- For the top part I used the same technique with different images. I Googled (creative commons) personal letters written in the camps combined with their envelopes. I also used official letters or statements and copied them as above. I didn't copy it to A3 but used the scraps of paper as they were.
- Staple the A3 sheets over and under each other to the display board – fill the complete board
- Use the pieces of torn paper for the top part and staple them over each other to the board
- Staple the stars as fallen leaves to the bottom of the board – biggest size first – higher up, second biggest size over it but lower and halfway towards the bottom, followed by the smallest size overlapping the other stars and closest to the bottom of the board
- Arrange the Christmas lights between the stars to let the souls sparkle
- Cut the black card in the right shape for the title and tear the edges
- Attach the laminated title to the black card – make sure to use a ruler to keep the text straight
- Staple the title to the board
- Cover the carton boxes with wrapping paper and glue some of the scraps of torn paper to the sides and on the top overlapping the edges
- Attach display stands to the top of the boxes and secure with little pieces of tape
- Place the boxes in front of the display board and place the books on the shelves and boxes
I used novels, picture books and graphic novels about WWII in this display but off course you can use nonfiction as well.