Introduction to the Győr IWalk
Written by Ildikó Mesterházi, Ambassador of the Zachor Foundation and the USC Shoah Foundation in Győr
April 16, the day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust in Hungary, is approaching. By the end of March, the renewed “Walk in the Jewish Quarter of Győr” will be available to help commemorate the event. On this occasion, I would like to introduce you to the IWalk educational programme.
The IWalk program is a digital education program of the University of Southern California (USC) Shoa Foundation, implemented in Hungary by the Zachor Foundation. The program offers local history walks through a free phone app. The phone application allows you to learn about the history of the Jewish community of a given settlement, either independently or with a guide, through a local history walk.
The information is supported by site-specific digital/multimedia resources; these are short (a few minutes) excerpts of video interviews from the USC Shoa Foundation’s Visual History Archive. During the walk through Győr, we will learn about the personal recollections of Lenke Askergren, Leslie Borsa, Ibolya Keller Krausz, Gabriella Polgár and Edith Tupy. In addition to the interview extracts, there are also resources to help the learning process related to each stop of the walk. The Győr walk includes maps, photos, posters and newspaper clippings.
The Győr IWalk brings the history of Győr’s Jews closer to us through active learning by visiting parts of Győr-Sziget and Újváros. The walk takes us through the peaceful and tranquil 1920s, and then through the period of exclusion, looting and deportation.
The walk takes us through ten stations in five locations.
- Híd utca, the entrance to Bercsényi Park – the settlement of the Jewish community, a period of peaceful coexistence between Jews and non-Jews
- the park behind the synagogue – the time of settlement of the Jewish community, the period of assimilation
- Synagogue courtyard – building of the synagogue and the school
- Emil Róth memorial plaque – the role of the Rabbi and the concept of Zionism
- The Memorial to Child Victims – disenfranchisement, discrimination
- Home for old and poor Jews (Menház) – the power of the community, the German occupation
- Kohn’s Oil Factory Industrial Memorial – the role of the Jews in the industrialisation of the city, the period of looting
- Bishop János Simor Square – ghettoisation, exclusion
- Former Catholic girls’ school and convent – relocation to the barracks camp, silent bystanders
- Győr-Sziget Israelite Cemetery – Vilmos Apor, Memorial to the Martyrs
The walk is a guided discovery and reflection. The process is prepared by providing the necessary background information about the place and then students gather information from a variety of sources. Knowledge construction is done collectively through discussions, so it is very important to ask questions related to the sites and video interviews, and to give students the opportunity to reflect on what they have heard. Reflection can take place during or after the walk in a classroom setting. The phone app also allows us as teachers to monitor individual student responses. In this case, we need to be familiar with the IWitness interface, which I will write about in more detail next time.
The IWalk app is free for anyone to use, and walks can even be done virtually.
The process to download the app is as follows:
- IWalk is available under the name USC Shoah Foundation and can be downloaded for free on Google Play and the App Store. Look for this logo:
- Once downloaded, the interface will display the available countries.
- In our case, we have to look for Hungary, then Győr.
- In the footsteps of the Jews of Győr, you can find a walk through Győr, with the dome of the Neolog synagogue in the picture. (In Hungarian only.)
- The walk can be downloaded and will be offered by the app. The reason to download is that you don’t need an internet connection on the spot.
- The interface asks if the answers should be sent to the teacher. You should tick no here, in which case the download will start.
The walk can be viewed virtually from home, giving you the opportunity to learn about the life and history of the community through personal stories.