06.08.-20.08.2016, IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz
IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz, Action Reconciliation Service for Peace in Berlin, Memorial Site Topf&Söhne in Erfurt
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International summer camp of Action Reconciliation Servie for Peace/Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste in the IYMC Oświęcim /Auschwitz

Action Reconciliation Servie for Peace organizes each year around 25 international summer camps for participants from different countries. The participants live, learn and work together over a period of two to three weeks. An important part of the projects are the care and maintenance work at Jewish cemeteries in Eastern and Central Europe, the work in memorial sites, which are located in the places of former concentration camps, the work in social institutions or the work with People with disabilities.

The summer camp in the IYMC, which was organized jointly by Action Reconciliation Service for Peace in Berlin, the Topf&Sons Place of remembrance in Erfurt and the International Youth Meeting Center, took place from August 6th to 20th . Participants were from Germany and Poland in the age 16 to 20 years. The aim of the international project was to enable the participants to get to know the fate of the Jewish community in Oświęcim and the history of Auschwitz, to work on the Youth Web Dialogue and to carry out maintenance work in the Jewish cemetery in Oświęcim together with the participants of the Matzevah- Foundation from the USA and the students of Staffordshire University.

In the first week of the two-week project, the participants of the summer camp were first getting familiar with the Jewish history of Oświęcim and learned about the Jewish Center and the Jewish cemetery of Oświęcim by guided tours and workshops, before they intensively dealt with the Holocaust and especially the history of Auschwitz during the study tour and a workshop at the Auschwitz Memorial.

At the same time they began to work on the Youth Web Dialogue, an initiative by Topf&Sons Place of Remembrance in Erfurt, which is connected to the opening of the exhibition “Industry and Holocaust” in March 2017 at the Auschwitz Memorial. First the participants dealt with the historical complicity of Topf&Sons (Topf&Söhne) in Auschwitz and reflected on the responsibility not only of the immediate murderers in the extermination camp, but also of their accomplices in German society. In dealing with the history, the participants found their self-determined form of dealing with the historical responsibility of the perpetrators and accomplices and their own attitude and consistency for current questions of responsibility today. In the form of self-chosen and self-made contributions (texts, videos, photos, etc.) for the Youth Web dialogue, they dealt with historical and current questions.

They addressed four questions:
1. What does the Holocaust mean to you?
2. What do the actions of Topf & Sons mean to you?
3. What consequences follow for you personally from the critical engagement with the Holocaust?
4. What consequences should follow for us as a society with regard to our common future?

The results of this work will soon be available on the website of Topf & Sons Place of Remembrance in Erfurt:

During the second week of the project, the participants conducted care and maintenance work at the Jewish cemetery together with participants from the Matzevah Foundation and Staffordshire University. They cleared the paths, cleansed gravestones, removed weeds and scrub, and placed gravestones found in the vicinity of Oświęcim in special settings in the cemetery. The participants considered their work as an active contribution to remembrance. With their work they remembered the people buried in the cemetery and those who can no longer take care of the graves of their relatives because they were expelled or murdered by the National Socialists. In addition, the participants of the summer camp wanted to give with their meeting and work a signal against anti-Semitism and racism.

The meeting was financed by the F.C. Flick Foundation - against xenophobia, racism and intolerance (F.C. Flick Stiftung – gegen Fremdenfeindlichkeit, Rassismus und Intoleranz).

Coordination of the project: Judith Hoehne-Krawczyk / IYMC Oświęcim/Auschwitz, Verena Bunkus / Topf&Sons Place of remembrance in Erfurt, Rebekka Schubert / Topf&Sons Place of remembrance in Erfurt, Christine Bischatka / Action Reconciliation Service for Peace

Text: Judith Hoehne-Krawczyk
Translate: Maria Knapik-Wciślak


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