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Simulation Exercise

The Bystanders

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This tool wishes to facilitate participants become aware of the role of bystanders during critical times of history and explore the circumstances that encouraged or discouraged bystanders’ active participation or passivity.

Aims of the tool

-Develop sense of empathy, solidarity and personal responsibility
-Understand the impact of active participation and passivity

Description of the tool

As a warm-up (optional) the trainer presents a couple of short and controversial quotes regarding Holocaust bystanders and asks as many opinions regarding their meaning, collecting (without commenting) all sort of different interpretations coming from participants.

Albertos Beraha Interview (approx 30 min):

Participants are asked to form groups and read the interview by Albertos Beraha. They are asked to focus on the part of the interview describing incidents “During the War” and identify non-Jewish persons and their role in different parts of the story, either they have a name (i.e. Faidon Kontopoulos, Giannis Hatzithomas) or they are delineated (i.e. the girlfriend of uncle Elias).
Once groups work finishes, all the results of the teams are gathered on a list/board/flipchart recording the impact of the role or function of these people in Albertos’ story and life.

Bystanders Interviews (approx 45 minutes):

Each group chooses one of the characters recorded in the list above (the trainer makes sure each team works on a different profile) and constructs a story around this person. They are invited to imagine what their life would have been like before and after interacting with the Beraha family, how they met them, how they interacted with them etc. Once the character is constructed, a spokesperson from each group takes turns and sits in a chair taking up a role and giving voice to the character their team focused on. The other participants ask questions regarding the bystanders ‘personal story’ and point of view, including questions regarding their relationship with the Berahas (neighbor, partner or acquaintance), the reason they decided to help or decided to take no action etc.

Alternative exercise:

(Re-) Moulding Sculptures

The participants divide in two big groups sitting in opposite sides of the room. The participants on the one side of the room are asked to move to the centre of the room and take up a sculpture posture (freeze-frame) trying to depict a bystander’s moment or incident in Thessaloniki in the years of the war. They stay still while the rest of the participants are guided by the trainer to reflect on each sculpture’s posture (guess the context, the feelings etc). During the consideration, participants are allowed to go towards any sculpture they wish and make a change on it explaining why (for instance turn the direction of their face, make them smile or hug etc). After some time, the role between sculptures and acting spectators is reversed.

As a close-up (optional) there can be a formation of a plenary reflection facilitated by the trainer. Participants discuss their overall impression and feelings created by the overall session, mentioning things that caused them surprise, things they didn’t know or hadn’t thought of before.


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SALTO cannot be held responsible for the inappropriate use of these training tools. Always adapt training tools to your aims, context, target group and to your own skills! These tools have been used in a variety of formats and situations. Please notify SALTO should you know about the origin of or copyright on this tool.

Tool overview

This tool addresses

Social Inclusion, Anti-Racism, Intercultural Learning, European Citizenship, Religion

Materials needed:

Centropa Interview of "Albertos Beraha, Athens Greece" (free access on


Approximately 2hrs

Behind the tool

The tool was created by

Katerina Boutsia

The tool was published to the Toolbox by

Katerina Boutsia (on 3 June 2015)

and last modified

22 May 2015

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