Civic courage? Bremerhaven schoolchildren learn for life in an escape room

picture: Radio Bremen | Joshka Schmidt

Escape rooms are very popular as a form of modern scavenger hunt. In Bremerhaven there are now history lessons as a puzzle adventure – with a serious background.

Sometimes scary, often mysterious, often cool and now totally educational: Escape rooms have been in vogue for a long time. At the weekend, a team from Bremen competed in the first German championship to solve the puzzle phenomenon.

And in Bremerhaven, this room is now the place for history lessons. The game is about solving puzzles in a real environment. Like a scavenger hunt, but in a very small space. For example, groups have to find a hidden document at a certain time in order to get out of the situation.

Several people are sitting in an empty hall.
“The Lion of Monster” is the name of the mobile escape room on the former planet Saturn.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Joshka Schmidt

Tense expressions and focused looks rather than yawning faces. The first hour, eight in the morning, is an empty hall in downtown Bremerhaven. Where washing machines stood in what was once Saturn, the ninth-grade class at Wilhelm Rabe School now goes on a journey through time.

For the first time the students took up the topic of National Socialism during their school days. But not in class as usual, but play. mystery. One hour. room.

I think you learn the most when you learn with all your senses. When dialing. When using a typewriter for the first time. When you are thrown into a story like this. They have to play a role. This benefits the brain much more than reading the lines in the book. This just stays in memory. And with it the message.

Matthias Hecking, developer of the escape room

A matter of civic courage

Several people standing at a table.
The eleventh year of Bremerhaven High School at Geschwister-Scholl-Gymnasium also attempted to “escape” from the Escape Romm.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Joshka Schmidt

Escape room developer Matthias Hecking believes in the added value of the format. In terms of content, his escape game revolves around the topic of euthanasia under National Socialism.

In a small, dark room with a typewriter, music from the 1940s, and ancient literature, the students have to find hidden leaflets. One of the bishops at the time had championed the rights of the disabled. A life-threatening project for nearly 80 years.

The actual goal of the game for the group is to find these publications. Finally, we ask: What would you do? What would you have done in 1941 if you had received these pamphlets. Would you distribute them? Or would you destroy them? Did you intervene? So: at the end of the day, would you have shown civic courage and articulated these clear words at risk?

Matthias Hecking, developer of the escape room

Escape room in the former Saturn region of Bremerhaven
Inconspicuous from the outside, but full of secrets.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Leonard Steinbeck

Hecking tours all over Germany with this escape room. His motivation: He wants to invite young people in particular to speak out against racism and discrimination. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the 1930s.

“People, start early,” Hecking said. “Start where there are insults in the schoolyard, people from the gym are bullied because they are gay or black.” It is about defending human dignity today. “And don’t wait for some extremists to take over again.”

History lesson as a journey through time

Several people are standing at a table reading documents.
One puzzle leads to the next in Escape Romm.

Photo: Radio Bremen | Joshka Schmidt

In the end, there was not enough time for the group from the Wilhelm Rabe School to solve the mystery in the escape room within an hour. However, the conclusion is positive. “It’s a shame,” says a ninth-grade student. “I thought we could do it. But it was better than sitting in class.” She says they learned a lot in this history lesson by traveling through time.

For a week, the mobile escape room “Der Löwe von Münster” appeared as a guest in collaboration with the city library in Hanse-Carré. Above all, many classes would visit him in the morning.

More on the topic of National Socialism:

This topic is in the program:
Bremen Zoe, Today, September 28, 2022, 1:10 pm

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