Friday 21 October 2016

Seminar 2 - Hani's story

You will find it easier to follow this if you have read the book The House on Schellberg Street

Hani’s story

An interesting friendship

Consider Hani’s friendship with Renate. They are firm friends at the beginning of the book. Hani lived and was brought up in Stuttgart. Renate was brought up in Jena. Perhaps the link is Renate’s grandmother who lives in Stuttgart.
How might the friendship have developed?  
Renate went to a church school.
Hani went to a Waldorf school.  

To do

Read the first two chapters where we are introduced to Renate and Hani.  
Work in groups to create the scene where they first met.
Now write a conversation that they might have had about their two schools.
Chapters that might help you:
Hani 28 February 1939
Hani, 2 June 1939 (especially the letter from Renate)   


Hani’s parents are being secretive about something. See the following chapters: 
Hani 28 February 1939
What was their secret?
To do
Imagine that Hani now understands what was going on.
 She writes a letter to Renate explaining it all.  
Make up a television or radio interview about Hani’s parents. You will need a presenter and Hani.

The school in the cellar

Study the following passages.
Hani 28 February 1939
Hani 12 April 1939
Hani 7 May 1939  
Hani 14 May 1939
Hani, 2 June 1939
Hani, 19 April 1940
Hani 8 June 1944
Hani 19 November 1944
Hani 10 May 1945


To do

Make a timeline – roughly one sentence per chapter – to show the history of the school
Make some of the stories into diary entries by Hani.
Take one of the scenes and make it into a short sketch.   

Notes for teachers

The friendship between Hani and Renate

You can trace this in the chapters mentioned and you will no doubt find more information in Clara’s Story as there are some notes here from Renate’s earlier childhood.
Renate made several visits to Stuttgart and would have been influenced by what her grandmother, Clara Lehrs, knew about the Waldorf School there. When she was very little she and her parents and her grandmother all lived in Jena. Her grandmother at that time worked at another Steiner institution: the Lauenstein, where children with severe learning difficulties had residential care and education.
Hani went to the Waldorf School. The main influences of the Waldorf School at that time would have been:
·         Deep Christianity
·         Deep spirituality
·         Inclusive education
·         Love for and engagement with the arts
Hani went to the Waldorf School after not getting on very well at the normal state school  
In some ways Renate and Hani were very different. Renate was tall, slim and athletic. Hani was a little lazy and slightly overweight.
The chicken pox is a very important factor. Watch it carefully. Again, there is more about this in Clara’s Story.    


Many people secretly supported the Jews and resisted fascism in Nazi Germany. They did this at great risk to themselves. Renate’s teachers put themselves at risk and we read a lot more about this in Shooting Hitler, the fourth book in the Schellberg cycle.

The school in the cellar

It really did exist. In fact, it was so successful that it carried on for many years after the war, only moving on when it became too big for the house on Schellberg Street.
Several of the children were Down syndrome, epileptics or had other physical or mental disorders. Ironically Clara Lehrs was looking after people who were considered to be “defective” when she was an unwanted person herself.
Hani is a completely fictional character though Clara Lehrs and Karl Schubert are not. Your students might like to find out more about them.
Though Hani is fictional her engagement with the BDM is based on fact. The Bund Deutscher Mädel, Association of German Girls, is the girls’ equivalent of the Hitler youth and was compulsory for girls aged 14 and above. The uniform was very elegant and there were all sorts of interesting activities and opportunities for the young girls. It must have been a real boon in the depressed 1930s.
Likewise the Reichsarbeitsdienst, government work service, was a reality for slightly older girls. They were expected to do this after they left school. Many girls worked on farms though often in the house and taking on housewifely duties whilst the farmer’s wives worked the land. This was followed by the Kriegshilfsdienst, war help service, with some girls continuing to work on farms, or for the post office or in hosptial.
It was perfeclty legitiamte for Hani  get a job as a housekepeer for Herr Kühn. Women were meant to become homemakers and Kinder, Kirche, Küche (children, church, cooking) was highly important. We might say that this indoctrination began with the BDM.           

  Would you like this as a handy PDF?  Download it here.