• Unearthing the Holocaust: Serniki and the Australian War Crimes Trials

Unearthing the Holocaust: Serniki and the Australian War Crimes Trials

Key information
Cost $15/student Duration 3 hours Supervision ratios The supervision ratio is 1:20 for secondary groups. Teachers attend free of charge. Curriculum links Stage 4 & 5 Elective History, Topic 1: Constructing History
Stage 6 Ancient History Preliminary Course Part II: The Historical Investigation, Ancient History (Archaeology)
Stage 6 Modern History Core: The Investigation of Historic Sites and Sources; The Contestability of the Past; The Construction of Modern History.
Stage 6 HSC Legal Studies, Option 7: World Order
About the program:

All nations are obliged to trace, charge or extradite genocidal killers. Yet the effectiveness of international mechanisms such as the International Criminal Court continue to be hotly debated, as the will to prosecute war criminals remains firmly within the internal domestic realm of national states.

The Sydney Jewish Museum’s exhibition, Unearthing the Evidence, details the atrocities committed against the Jewish inhabitants of Serniki, a small village in the Ukraine. The artefacts on display were excavated to serve as the material evidence for the Australian War Crimes Trial that took place in South Australia between 1991 and 1993. Through viewing the exhibition and participating in a workshop led by a Museum educator, students will engage in a discussion of the massacre at Serniki and how it constitutes a war crime and, thus, a breach of international law.

The program includes an interactive seminar with a Museum educator, first-hand testimony from a Holocaust survivor and a guided tour of the Museum.

Image credit: SJM Collection.

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Plan your visit

Risk assessment

Please click here for our risk assessment.

On the day

  • We recommend arriving 15 minutes before your program begins and assembling students across the road from the museum in Green Park.
  • Please send a member of staff to the main Museum entrance to let us know you have arrived and our education team will come to greet you.
  • Students will enter via the main Museum entrance on Darlinghurst Road where security will greet you and show you where to go.
  • Note that the Museum has a substantial security presence. Your group may be asked to consent to a bag search.


  • There is an option of pre-ordering our school café lunch which can be eaten in Green Park before or after the excursion. Please click here to see the menu.

What to bring

  • Due to limited locker space, we request that students do not bring backpacks.
  • If the students plan to eat their lunch in the park after their visit, please ask them to bring very small bags so that we can put several bags in each locker.


  • Please let us know before your visit if any of your students have special needs or learning difficulties so we can plan to accommodate their needs during the visit.

Content advice

  • Note that the content covered at the Museum may be distressing to some students.
  • We recommend bringing your school councillor and/or members of your pastoral care team to the visit.
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This program challenges the misconception that Jews went “like lambs to the slaughter”, with examples of Jewish resistance.

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