„Light in the Darkness”
Summer is the time of sunny weather, good mood, travelling, new interesting acquaintances and experiences. And all this one could surely find in the international project “Light in the Darkness”, organized on 22nd -29th July by the International Youth Meeting Centre in cooperation with Tanzendes Theater e.V. from Wolfsburg (Germany), Students’ sports club “Jocker” by the Complex of Secondary Schools Nr 1 in Oświęcim, and Gymnasium-Boarding School-Dance School „Prolisok” in Kropyvnytskyi (Ukraine).
„Light in the Darkness” is an attempt to look at Auschwitz-Birkenau not only as a memorial site from the martyrological perspective, but also as a starting point in the discussion about the mechanisms of discrimination and the issue of human rights and their protection in the modern world. This is also a project, in which art brings closer the reality and individual destinies of camp prisoners as well as serves as a means of understanding without words and transmitting reflections and thoughts about the issues under discussion.
The youth from Ukraine, Germany and Poland met in the IYMC to establish new contacts, develop international friendships, improve their knowledge of foreign languages, learn more about historical, such as those connected with WWII and the Holocaust, and contemporary issues, e.g. the development of human rights system in Europe. During the visit at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and thematic workshops the participants had an opportunity to have a look at the aforementioned issues from different national perspectives and learn more about the topics, which at first sight seem known.
I was at the Museum for the third time already and thought there could be nothing new for me there, - shared a participant from Oświęcim, -
however I learned a lot of new interesting things, of which I hadn’t heard anything before. I didn’t think it was possible. The workshops about human rights violation and social discrimination, in their turn, brought it home to the participants, how complex and many-sided these issues are and how difficult it is to find effective solutions.
An important element of the project, which was highly anticipated by the participants, was the dance theatre workshop, conducted by Ana Claudia Ronzani, a dance teacher from Tanzendes Theater Wolfsburg e.V. During the movement exercises the young people could get to know each other and establish contact in a better way. As a participant from Germany underlined, “During our work on the performance I understood, how many things we can say with movements and absolutely without words.”
The highlight of the project was the dance theatre performance, which was attended by people from Oswiecim and the IYMC guests. In their performance the young artists referred to such thematic lines, as Auschwitz and individual destinies of camp prisoners, dehumanization and saving one’s soul in inhuman conditions, an individual and a crowd in the face of propaganda, the roles of a perpetrator and a victim, civil courage in the face of violence and discrimination. The dance and theatre elements were complemented by photos and music pieces, performed by the youth themselves.
Hartwig Erb, the CEO of IG Metall-Wolfsburg - one of the project’s sponsors, was also present at the performance. In his speech he emphasized the role of the youth as ambassadors of understanding between people and invited the young artists to present their performance “Light in the Darkness” at the annual festival “AntiFa-Woche”, which will take place in Wolfsburg in November this year.
The week of intensive work and nonetheless intensive play has come to an end. The youth has returned home to meet again in autumn at the second part of the project, but this time in Germany.
The project is financially supported by IG Metall-Wolfsburg and the German-Polish Youth Office in the framework of the „Ways to Remembering” programme.
Author: Nataliia Tkachenko, IYMC
Photos: N. Tkachenko, I. Nikolayenko, IYMC