T&S Curriculum: Unit 1. Spring/Frühling 1938

Unit 1 focu­ses on the sto­ry of Hil­de and Roland in the Spring of 1938. Offi­cial­ly, Ger­ma­ny is still at peace. Some­time in April 1938, Roland was reas­si­gned to teach in a vil­la­ge school on the other side of Sax­o­ny. After hea­ring of his depar­tu­re during choir prac­ti­ce at church, Hil­de resol­ved to wri­te him in per­son to con­fess her love and initia­te a cor­re­spon­dence in the hope of arran­ging a pri­va­te mee­ting. Over the cour­se of the Spring, they begin a courtship, get to know one ano­t­her, their hopes and dreams, and their atti­tu­des about love and fami­ly. In this unit, stu­dents will explo­re the iden­ti­ties of prot­ago­nists, their social con­text, the set­ting of the play, and the let­ters as sources for histo­ry and as a tro­pe in the play.

Writ­ten by Drew Ber­ger­son and Debo­rah Par­ker, CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 ©2019. 


I. Unit Resources

  1. The Intro­duc­tion to Act 1 and Act 1, Sce­ne 1 from his­to­ri­cal dra­ma, Love in the Time of Hit­ler: a Courtship in Let­ters, 1938–40, avail­ab­le:
  2. The T&S web­site, inclu­ding com­ple­te descrip­ti­ons of the pro­ject and the prot­ago­nists (togg­le lan­guage for Eng­lish) inclu­ding fami­ly pho­to­graphs and a map of Ger­ma­ny and Saxony
  3. The T&S Blog, inclu­ding tran­scrip­ti­ons of all of the let­ters that appe­ar in this sce­ne of the play (togg­le lan­guage for Eng­lish) and asso­cia­ted his­to­ri­cal images:
    • 380504–2‑1, with an illus­tra­ti­on of the first page as an image here.
    • 380508–1‑1, with an illus­tra­ti­on of the first page as an image here.
    • 380511–2‑1
    • 380516–1‑1
    • 380520–2‑1
    • 380524–1‑1
    • 380528–2‑1
  4. T&S Hor­büch 1.05 (05.1938), inclu­ding Ger­man audio record­ings of all of the indi­vi­du­al let­ters (here with Eng­lish instructions) 
  5. T&S Hor­büch 1.13 (1938), inclu­ding the Ger­man radio pro­gram for the mon­th of 05.1938 (here with Eng­lish instructions) 
  6. The intro­duc­to­ry lec­tu­re by Dr. Andrew Stuart Ber­ger­son, “About this Pro­ject.”
  7. A glos­sa­ry of Ger­man voca­bu­la­ry for this unit.
  8. Secon­da­ry lite­ra­tu­re in Ger­man and Eng­lish inclu­ding both gene­ral rea­ding and scho­l­ar­ly publi­ca­ti­ons on T&S specifically. 

II. Unit ActivitiesGeneral

Background for Unit 1

Tea­chers should read the web­site pro­ject descrip­ti­ons and watch the intro­duc­to­ry video by Dr. Andrew Stuart Ber­ger­son, “About this Pro­ject.” The­se may also be assi­gned to stu­dents or tea­cher may pro­vi­de this infor­ma­ti­on themselves.

Activity Nr. 1: Identify the Protagonists (45 Minutes)

Read and watch the first sce­ne of the play, links to which can also be found on the Resour­ces Page:

  1. Read the descrip­ti­on of the sta­ge set­ting for Act 1 as well as Sce­ne 1.
  2. Watch the pre­mier per­for­mance of the Act 1, Sce­ne 1 from 20 May 2017.
  3. Read the maps of Sax­o­ny and Germany.
  4. Dis­cus­sion Questions:
    • Iden­ti­fy the two prot­ago­nist. What do we know about them from this sce­ne in terms of their age, class, gen­der, occup­a­ti­on, race, reli­gi­on, and residence?
    • In what ways are they simi­lar or dif­fe­rent? How do you see the­se dif­fe­ren­ces in the way they express themselves?
    • Whe­re do the­se iden­ti­ties place them in Ger­man socie­ty in terms of wealth and sta­tus? Remem­ber that we are tal­king here about the Third Reich in 1938.

Activity Nr. 2:  Explore the Setting (20 minutes)

  1. Draw the “visi­ble” set of the sta­ge as if you were loo­king at it from abo­ve. Iden­ti­fy each of the peop­le and things.
  2. Dis­cus­sion Questions
    • What does each represent?
    • How do the cha­rac­ters and objects move on the sta­ge? What does this tell us about their ever­y­day life?
    • What about the “invi­si­ble” ele­ments of their social con­text like fami­ly rela­ti­ons, atti­tu­des about work, gen­der roles, and sexu­al norms?
    • What can you infer about their his­to­ri­cal con­text from their actions? 

Activity Nr. 3:  Think about the Sources (30 minutes)

  1. After each line in the text of the play, the­re is a num­ber in squa­re bra­ckets [ ]. What do the num­bers mean? 
  2. Cal­cu­la­te: how long does it take for a let­ter to get from Hil­de to Roland and back. Go to the web­site and, using the search func­tion, look up one of the let­ters from the blog that appears in this scene.
  3. Iden­ti­fy the con­ven­ti­ons in their let­ter writing.
  4. Think about the mail in terms of the words of the let­ter, the let­ter as mate­ri­al cul­tu­re, the post­man, and the rail­road. How does this medi­um influ­ence their courtship? The play?

Activity Nr. 4: Find the Drama (15 minutes)

Dra­ma is often crea­ted when the prot­ago­nists have to over­co­me chal­len­ges in the world around them or in them­sel­ves. Read Act 1 Sce­ne 1 out loud with a part­ner “per­for­ma­tively”. Try to express:

  • What do Hil­de and Roland each want or value?
  • What do they dis­li­ke or fear?
  • What do their actions tell us about their personalities?
  • What do you think will be the dra­ma­tic ten­si­on of the play?


In dem Thea­ter­stück sehen wir und even­tu­ell lesen wir, wie Hil­de und Roland ihren Brief­wech­sel mit­ein­an­der anfangen. 

I. Ressourcen

Sie wer­den die fol­gen­den Res­sour­cen von der Res­sour­cen Sei­te benutzen:

  1. Video: Ein­füh­rung von Dr. Andrew Ber­ger­son — Ein­stieg in das Thema
  2. T&S Tea­ser
  3. Per­for­mance Video of Sce­ne 1
  4. Deut­sche Ver­si­on der Insze­nie­rung des 1. Akts
  5. Deut­sche Ver­si­on der 1. Sze­ne des 1. Akts 
  6. Glos­sar zu Sze­ne 1 des 1. Akts
  7. Land­kar­ten und Bilder
  8. Der Blog: Brie­fe 380504–2‑1 und 380504–2‑1
  9. Hör­buch Bd. 1.5 (05.1938) und 1.13 (1938) Tea­ser

II. Aktivitäten

Sie wer­den Hil­de und Roland beschrei­ben und ihre täg­li­che Ereignisse/Erfahrungen iden­ti­fi­zie­ren können.

Aktivität Nr. 1: Hören (5 Minuten)

Hören Sie das T&S Tea­ser bei dem Hör­buch Bd. 1.13 (1938) an. Inhalt besprechen.

Aktivität Nr. 2: Lesen (20 Minuten)

Lesen Sie die Insze­nie­rung des 1. Akts. Lesen Sie 1. Akte, Sze­ne 1 in Grup­pen von drei Per­so­nen laut vor. Drei Rol­len: Erzäh­ler, Hil­de und Roland. 

Aktivität Nr. 3: zum Inhalt (5 Minuten)

Sind die fol­gen­den Aus­sa­gen wahr oder falsch. Schrei­ben Sie W(ahr) oder F(alsch) in die Lücken.

  • A.  Hil­des Eltern sind reich. _____
  • B.  Roland ist drei­zehn Jah­re älter als Hil­de. _____
  • C.  Die Büh­ne ist in vier Spiel­flä­chen geteilt. _____
  • D.  Roland wuß­te schon immer, dass Hil­de ihn lieb­te. _____
  • E.  Hil­de und Roland schrei­ben Brie­fe an ein­an­der. _____
  • F.  Reli­gi­on ist für Hil­de und Roland sehr wich­tig. _____

Aktivität Nr. 4: Grammatik (20 Minuten)

Schrei­ben Sie in die fol­gen­de Tabel­le, wor­auf sich die unter­stri­che­nen Wör­ter beziehen.

Im Satzbezieht sich das Wort …auf …
die den All­tag (Zei­le …)„die“
um ihn Roland abzu­lie­fern (Zei­le …)„ihn“
über Sie nach­ge­dacht (Zei­le …)„Sie“

Aktivität Nr. 5: Wortschatz (10 Minuten)

Fin­den Sie im Glos­sar zu Sze­ne 1 die­je­ni­ge Wör­ter, mit denen man die Wör­ter oder Beschrei­bun­gen unten sinn­voll erset­zen könnte. 

  • der Brief­trä­ger  ______________________________
  • die Flä­che, wor­auf ein Thea­ter­stück gespielt wird  ______________________________
  • dar­auf wird ein Film gezeigt oder gemalt ______________________________
  • eine chro­no­lo­gi­sche Rei­hen­fol­ge ______________________________
  • die Kar­rie­re; die Arbeit ______________________________
  • jemand, der ein Gedicht schreibt ______________________________
  • wenn man ganz allei­ne ist und es sehr spürt ______________________________
  • wo man gebo­ren ist oder her­kommt ______________________________
  • was mor­gen bringt ______________________________
  • Got­tes Haus ______________________________
  • die Wahr­heit sagen ______________________________
  • etwas in Fra­ge stel­len ______________________________

Aktivität Nr. 6: Hören die ganze Briefe an (30 Minuten)

Hören Sie die ers­ten Brie­fe von Hil­de (04. Mai 1938) bzw. von Roland (08. Mai 1938) in dem Hör­buch Bd. 1.5 (05.1938) an. Lesen Sie die Brie­fe (380504–2‑1 und 380504–2‑1) gleich­zei­tig mit. 

Oder für Fort­ge­schrit­te­ne: Hören Sie das ers­te T&S Hör­spiel 1.13 (1938) an. Lesen Sie die Brie­fe am Blog gleich­zei­tig mit.

Aktivität Nr. 7: Fragen zu Szene 1 (20 Minuten)

Beant­wor­ten Sie die fol­gen­den Fragen.

  1. Beschrei­ben Sie Roland Nord­hoff. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Beschrei­ben Sie Hil­de Lau­be. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  3. Was sym­bo­li­siert der Bahn­hof im Hin­ter­grund auf der Bühne?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  4. Beschrei­ben Sie die Rol­le des Briefträgers?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  5. War­um schrei­ben Hil­de und Roland ihre Brie­fe ohne Absender?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  6. Was ist Hil­des Beruf? Was woll­te sie mal werden?______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Wortschatz zu Lehreinheit 1

Inszenierung des 1. Akts

der Anspruch claim; enti­t­le­ment       

bezeich­nen                 to descri­be

der Brief                      let­ter

die Büh­ne                    sta­ge

ent­fal­ten                      evol­ve; unfold

das Ereig­nis                event; occu­ran­ce

die Gesell­schaft          socie­ty; company

die Haupt­rol­le              lea­ding role

die Neben­rol­le             sup­por­ting role

der Hin­ter­grund           back­ground

die Lein­wand               screen; can­vas

die Öffent­lich­keit         public

der Post­bo­te               mail car­ri­er

stö­ren                          dis­turb; bother

die Ver­bin­dung            con­nec­tion; relation

die Zeit­leis­te                time­li­ne

Szene 1

der Alters­un­ter­schied age dif­fe­rence

der Beruf                      occup­a­ti­on

der Betrug                   fraud

die Bil­dung                   edu­ca­ti­on

der Chef                      boss

die Dank­bar­keit         gra­ti­tu­de

der Dich­ter                  poet

die Ehe                        mar­ria­ge

die Ehr­bar­keit            respec­ta­bi­li­ty

die Ehr­lich­keit            hones­ty

die Ein­sam­keit           lone­li­ness

die Feri­en                    vaca­ti­on

die Frei­heit                  free­dom

das Gedicht                poem

das Gefühl                  fee­ling; emotion

das Geständ­nis        con­fes­si­on

das Glau­ben               belief; faith

das Glück                   hap­pi­ness; luck

der Gott                       god

die Hei­mat                   home; nati­ve land

die Hoff­nung               hope

die Kir­che                    church

die Krank­heit              ill­ness

das Leid                      pain; suf­fe­ring

das Lied                      song

die Lieb­schaf­ten       love affair

das Schick­sal             desti­ny; fate

der Schmerz               pain

die Sehn­sucht            desi­re

die Sitt­lich­keit            mora­li­ty

der Stand                    level; sta­te

der Trost                     com­fort; consolation

das Unglück                unhap­pi­ness; disaster

die Ver­gan­gen­heit     past

das Ver­trau­en             trust

die Zukunft                  future

der Zwei­fel                  doubt


III. Application with Assessment/Anwendung mit Bewertung

In this unit, you have acqui­red some initi­al fami­lia­ri­ty with Hil­de and Roland, the moti­ves which inspi­re them and the chal­len­ges that they face, the world of the Third Reich in which they lived, the ways in which the play repres­ents their sto­ry, and their let­ters as an his­to­ri­cal source and as the main tro­pe of the play. (In the fol­lowing app­li­ca­ti­ons and assess­ments, DaF stu­dents should stri­ve to express them­sel­ves in German.)

Application/Anwendung Nr. 1 (20 Min.)

Select one of the­se ques­ti­ons and respond to it in a well-arti­cu­la­ted and gram­ma­ti­cal­ly cor­rect paragraph:

  1. How do you com­mu­ni­ca­te with a new friend or love inte­rest? Com­pa­re your way of com­mu­ni­ca­ting to that of Hil­de and Roland in terms of  media, tech­no­lo­gy, and cul­tu­re asso­cia­ted with them.
  2. The year of 1938 was full of major poli­ti­cal events for Ger­ma­ny and the world. From Hil­de and Roland’s let­ters in the Spring of 1938, how inte­res­ted do you think they were in tho­se events? What other rea­sons might the­re be for them not to dis­cuss poli­tics in their letters?

Application/Anwendung Nr. 2 (25 Min.)

In small groups, reflect on and dis­cuss the­se questions:

  1. What do you think might hap­pen next in the sto­ry? What would you like to know more about?
  2. Do you worry about or hope for any of the same things as Hil­de and Roland? How do you address tho­se fears or aspi­ra­ti­ons? What has chan­ged sin­ce then?
  3. Is the sto­ry of Hil­de and Roland rele­vant today [here in .…]? If so, how/why?
  4. What can we learn about our­sel­ves from them?
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