Underground Education in Sącz Region (history lesson)

Jakub Bulzak

Script for a HISTORY lesson
(for grade 8th of primary school and grades 1st to 4th of secondary school)

Class duration: ~45 minutes.

I. Subject of the lesson: Underground education in the Sądecczyzna region

II. The objectives of the lesson.

– discusses the policy of German occupation administration in the field of education;
– describes the ways to try and prevent the so-called “educational gap”;
– knows what happened with the educational institutions of Nowy Sącz in the period of the German occupation;
– can explain the role Felix Rapf played in local underground education.

III. Methods:
– lecture;
– teaching conversation;
– work with a source text;
– work with a map;
– work with an iconographic source.

IV. Teaching resources:
– the www.wojennysacz.pl website;
– the article: J. Bulzak, Education – www.wojennysacz.pl/en/education/

V. Lesson course:

1. Greetings

2. Organisational activities (roll call, writing down the lesson subject)

3. Recapitulation: The teacher asks students to recall what were the goals of the third Reich policy toward the Polish population.

4. Binding link: The teacher reads a section of the research article:

Educational policy was an important element of the general Nazi concept for the future of the Polish nation. The Polish school, especially the secondary school (Polish gymnasium and lyceum) and the higher education, which educated the society’s elites, was to be liquidated, while the primary and vocational education were to be severely limited. It was supposed to educate Polish workers to be able to sign their name and count to five hundred. The desired outcome was not only the elimination of elites, but also the prevention of the formation of new generations of Polish intelligentsia. […] Education policy was limited to providing all Poles with basic skills: writing, reading and counting and to providing elementary knowledge in natural sciences. Geography, history and literature classes were forbidden (textbooks for these subjects were confiscated), as well as, interestingly, physical exercises. […] it was this construction of the place and role of the Polish school (educational and pedagogical system) in the system of German occupation that was to secure the occupying forces from the possibility of the re-formation of the intelligentsia (replacing those who were murdered or died in camps), while the development of vocational education allowed the German economy to source qualified workers.

(J. Bulzak, J. Chrobaczyński, W latach okupacji niemieckiej (1939–1945) [w:] Podegrodzie i gmina podegrodzka. Zarys dziejów, pod red. Feliksa Kiryka, Kraków 2014, s. 450. [Eng. “In the years of the German occupation (1939–1945)])

5. The teacher asks selected students to use the map from the www.wojennysacz.pl website to read what happened to school buildings after the Germans entered Nowy Sącz.

6. The teacher explains the concept of “educational gap” to students.

7. Students answer the question: How could students and teachers try to prevent the creation of an educational gap?
(for example: reading books on their own, teachers in official classes could include the curriculum of the prohibited subjects, teachers and students could meet secretly for secret teaching)

8. Students answer what were the risks connected with conducting secret lessons and what were the problems faced by teachers and students.

9. The teacher presents the heroic attitudes of teachers conducting secret teaching on the example of Feliks Rapf. The teacher reads a fragment of a historical study:

When, on some occasion, the keys [to the storage at Narutowicza 2 Str.] got into the hands of Prof. Feliks Rapf, he made their imprints in plasticine and made copies of the keys that he kept for himself. From now on Prof. Rapf would secretly carry out textbooks and literature and then distribute them among the secret teaching groups. He also secured the most valuable teaching aids and stored them in the vocational school at Długosza 11 Str., where he created a physics classroom. In there he conducted secret teaching, many exams were also often held there. On another occasion, when the occupying administration school office instructed several teachers to pick out books in German from the school libraries collections, which were stored at Narutowicza str., a lot of school books and school literature was taken from the storage for the purposes of secret teaching.

(M. Wieczorek, Tajne nauczanie w Nowym Sączu, powiecie nowosądeckim i gminie Ujanowice powiatu limanowskiego w okresie okupacji niemieckiej w latach 1939–1945, „Rocznik Komisji Nauk Pedagogicznych” 1962, nr 3, s. 36-37. [Eng. Secret teaching in Nowy Sącz city, Nowy Sącz poviat and in gmina Ujanowice of the Limanowa poviat in the period of German occupation of the years 1939–1945])

10. The teacher presents the scanned Protocol of the Secret Teaching Verification of Halina Kondolewicz, from the Repository of the www.wojennysacz.pl website.
The teacher asks students to:
– calculate how old Halina was at the time the war broke out;
– answer how extensive was the curriculum of the education she finished during the occupation period;
– calculate how old Halina was at the end of the occupation and what level of education she had reached by then;
– answer what was the negative impact the war and occupation had on Halina’s life.

11. The teacher summarizes the lesson by presenting the importance of secret teaching as the largest underground operation of the German occupation period. The teacher also points out that although the armed underground movement did not bring military victory over the Third Reich, the secret education operation was one of the greatest successes of the Polish underground.

12. End of lesson.