Remember Bullenhuser Damm – the film

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the murder of twenty Jewish children at an abandoned school building called Bullenhuser Damm, young people from five European countries met in Hamburg from April 16-20, 2015. They came from Radom (Poland), Eindhoven (The Netherlands), Paris (France), Messina (Italy) and Hamburg (Germany).

For this project, the young people did research on the Bullenhuser Damm children in their own countries, went to the archives and memorials and did interviews on the subject of remembrance. They presented the results of their research in Hamburg through the posters and films they made.

During their stay in Hamburg they attended workshops: they shared their thoughts on the future of remembrance, personally met the children’s relatives and participated in the 70th anniversary commemorative ceremony.

One workshop produced this film.

https://vimeo.com/134088511

aus film 2

The speech

Speech for the commemoration ceremony at the Bullenhuser Damm Memorial, 20.4.2015

Welcome.

We are students from different countries who came together last Thursday and our project about the Bullenhuser Damm started.

We all came for different reasons. For example we from the Netherlands came here because close to our school is a monument fort he two Dutch boys that were hung at Bullenhuser Damm.

The polish students are here because they went to the Auschwitz Memorial the year before and learned about the subject at school.

The German students from Hamburg are here because they grew up in the land of the perpetrators and they wanted to take part at this international project to show that Germans have changed and to make a statement against racism.

The Italian and the French students came here because they were interested in what happened at Bullenhuser Damm and the Neuengamme Concentration Camp.

Now that you have an idea why we are here, we will talk about our experience.

It is nice to be in Hamburg and to meet people from other countries and to communicate with them and for example see parts of Hamburg together.

But when we see things like the emptiness of this school or of the former concentration camp, when we hear the history of this places or we talk about it and discuss with the students from the other countries, we all get this strange feeling. It’s really shocking and sad that people and children have been treated line this.

We feel sorry for all of them.

And though we can not change what happened, the question is, how we can remember today.

We think the internet can be used for remembering, because a lot of young people are using the internet.

Another thing is that we could remember every 20th of April about this crime at Bullenhuser Damm, as we do right now.

We will remember the 20 children when we go home and talk about their story.

We hope if everybody remembers this and realises how terrible it was, it won’t happen again.

Next to us are 20 balloons. One for every child that was killed here.

Later, when we plant the roses, we want to release the balloons. Connected to every balloon there is a card with the name of one of the 20 children and their date of birth and date of death.

On this cards we also wrote down the homepage of this Memorial, because we hope, that when somebody finds this card, this person can find out more about that child and the Other children and their story, so that it will be remembered.

Group photos

Participants of the youth project from France, Poland, Italy, Netherlands and Germany. Photo: Foto: Vereinigung der Kinder vom Bullenhuser Damm e.V, Regine Christiansen

Participants of the youth project from France, Poland, Italy, Netherlands and Germany. Photo: Foto: Vereinigung der Kinder vom Bullenhuser Damm e.V, Regine Christiansen

Participants and the teachers of the youth project from France, Poland, Italy, Netherlands and Germany standing in front of the Bullenhuser Damm building. Photo: Foto: Vereinigung der Kinder vom Bullenhuser Damm e.V, Regine Christiansen

Participants and the teachers of the youth project from France, Poland, Italy, Netherlands and Germany standing in front of the Bullenhuser Damm building. Photo: Foto: Vereinigung der Kinder vom Bullenhuser Damm e.V, Regine Christiansen

Another online article about the project

Students in discussions whilst exploring the site  Quelle: http://www.welt.de/lesestueck/2015/Neuengamme/  Foto: Marcelo Hernandez

Students in discussions whilst exploring the site
Quelle: http://www.welt.de/lesestueck/2015/Neuengamme/
Foto: Marcelo Hernandez

There is another online-article about the project – a journalist was accompanying one of the eleven international groups when they were exploring the Neuengamme Memorial Site.

Wiktor Mozylowski (Polen), Leomar Magsino (Italien), Tim Wiggers (Deutschland), Justin van den Keilen (Niederlande) and Fanta Drame (Frankreich) were exploring the grounds in a team.
The article is only in German, but maybe you would like to have a look:

http://www.welt.de/lesestueck/2015/Neuengamme/

My thoughts about the Hamburg stay – by Giovanni Alecci

I waited for two years looking at photos posted by my teacher and doing research. Being here it is something different. When we arrive in Bullenhuser Damm what is striking is the huge building of red bricks and big white windows. I go inside and I don’t feel anything. We go in the gym and  all groups give their presentations. Then it is time for our visit downstairs in the school basement. Strange and new feelings fill me and I am anxious as I go downstairs. I go inside and there are the suitcases! One next to the other in a  sort of circle the tell the brief story of each child whose life  violently came to an end. As I walk into the other rooms I am anxious even more. My heart beats fast I cannot think and I fill the emptiness which cuts my heart. I am overwhelmed. Suddenly the death of my father and his loss come backs to me. Then a new and different strong emotion. It’s here  where the children were hung that I feel at peace and serene although I cannot understand why . Then what I can think is that many children come to this school and they smile, laugh, scream, play and study. I can see how happy they are and I am sure that their voices keep company to the twenty children who keep on living. Death, as absurd as it can be, denied them to live but has given them they joy of eternal childhood which cannot be taken away.

Bullenhuser Damm building

Bullenhuser Damm building

Walking through the gate at Neuengamme my feelings are strange. This place is so huge and I cannot see its end on either side. Silence is interrupted by the 65 students footsteps as we walk on the stones along all walking spaces. Sometimes it’s the turn of a crow. Noone says a word and deep silence fills our soul. There are no noises here and even the engine of a car along the street nearby seems distant. It is very strange to see the tall wind turbines moving slowly where people were deported as forced labor. The look like huge clocks moving second, minutes, and hours counting the seventy years passed since the end of the war.  We are in another dimension and on tiptoes shyly we enter in a page of history. Every place we see and visit tells its own story. The big building, the house of memory, is full of photos, documents, diaries, messages, personal belongings, clothes and of things which were part of the daily life of those who stayed here. From hay mattresses where they could rest for a little while at night to the instruments of torture. Everything is kept under glass and taken care so they will remain proof of what happened here. We walk around the camp and I am impressed by the wagon. It’s the first time I see one. It’s big and unfortunately I cannot go inside. There is a huge photo to block the entrance. The people deported are one behind the other, they are skinny and their face are emotionless. They look real however and it seems they can get off the wagon in a moment. The brick factory includes the extreme meaning of this camp. As you walk inside you feel the anguish and the sense of loss.  Air stops and dim light confuses orientation. I need air my throat is suffocating and silence is icy. I am paralyzed. The dead are all here they are in the silence of this place and if you pay attention you can hear their voices asking Peace to mankind.

Giovanni Alecci

Italien group with Ytzhak Reichenbaum

Italien group with Ytzhak Reichenbaum

Statements about the future of Remembrance

Remember Bullenhuser Damm

Workshop III Statements

  • Remembrance should be combined with the internet in the sense that more of the correct information is available to children and adults around the world.
  • We think that remembrance ceremonies should be broadcasted live online but should still be held locally.
  • It is important to remember the Shoah.
  • Respect all People.
  • I think that we should talk about history with our ancestors.
  • We learn from our ancestors because they remember history and can teach us a lot. 
  • The places are important and have to be kept alive so that people are reminded of what has happened.
  • It must not be forgotten and the same mistakes shouldn’t be made again. 
  • We need to keep talking about it, from generation to generation.
  • The way of remembrance shouldn’t change a lot from the way we remember today.

The importance of remembrance

On Saturday and Sunday the workshops took place in Neuengamme. We could choose from five different workshops: Preparing interviews with relatives of the victims, preparing for the ceremony on Monday, a workshop about remembrance, one about remembrance and the internet and a video workshop. I took part in the remembrance workshop. What is remembrance? How do we remember? And why? Those were the main questions, and it was up to us to find some answers. We’ve talked about remembrance in our own country, about when and who we remember and where. Every country turned out to have its very own way of remembering and it was very interesting to hear about all those traditions. Then groups of four were created and each group was given a sheet of paper, which was divided into five parts: a square in the middle, and four trapeziums on every side of the paper. Each group member got his/her own side and had to write down some ‘dos and don’ts’ about remembrance (‘What is good to do or say? What shouldn’t you do or say?’). In the end we had to put a summary of these sides in the middle. In my opinion really good things have been mentioned, like the importance of showing respect towards victims and family.

During the second part of the workshops on Saturday, we’ve been talking about remembrance and the internet (the two workshops had been mixed, not enough people had signed up for the internet workshop).  A video was shown about and old man and his grandchildren who were dancing in front of Auschwitz, to the song I Will Survive. We had to give our opinions about this. That wasn’t really easy, ‘cause has this man the right to dance there? Isn’t it disrespectful towards the victims? Those are actually hard, and kind of philosophic questions, but I think we all did well answering and thinking about them. Afterwards, in groups of three or four we had to write down what remembrance will/should look like in the future, and what’s the most important. We had to summarize that into a couple of sentences and hand those in, to be shared with the audience before the start of the ceremony on Monday.

I came to Hamburg and Neuengamme because plain information from a book could not impress me. Even though people keep telling about the terrible circumstances during the War, it didn’t touch me. I knew it had been terrible, but I couldn’t feel it. I could not feel the sorrow and the pain which was felt back then. But I knew I had to feel it. ‘cause if I didn’t feel it, my children wouldn’t feel it either. And their children. Eventually, it will be forgotten, because no one can imagine it anymore – it happened so long ago. And the same mistakes can or will be made again. To keep this and many other stories alive, to make sure it will not be forgotten, I had to feel it. So I took part in this project and signed up for this workshop. I saw the places the books had told me about in real. It’s good that I’ve been there, even though I couldn’t really feel it until I got home. There, I realised where I had been. What I’ve seen and haven’t seen. And I could feel it.

At the end of the first day of school I went to the memorial of Lex and Edo Hornemann. I put a stone on the monument, an old Jewish tradition to show respect, and to show you’ll come back to visit again. And I will.

 

Hier stehst du schweigend

Doch

Wenn du

Dich wendest

Schweige nicht

Rosemarie Koster (the Dutch group)

Monday 20th of April …

… not only the commemoration ceremony as some kind of highlight and end of the project took place but also there was a come-together for dinner of all students and teachers and teamers with all the family members at Bullenhuser Damm. We were overwhelmed by all the positive reactions – of the participants as well as the family members. Thank you for taking the time to be a part of the project on this special day for your familys!

The official photos soon will follow, so here are just some of my photos I took with the phone camera:

Groupphoto of all young participants from Poland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Groupphoto of all young participants from Poland, France, Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Making friends

Making friends

come-together of family members and students for dinner on Monday evening

come-together of family members and students for dinner on Monday evening

Meeting family members:

Meeting Ytzhak Reichenbaum (Eduard´s brother)

Meeting Ytzhak Reichenbaum (Israel, Eduard´s brother)

Podium discussion with Mark James (brother of Marek James) and Marc-Alain Grumelin (brother of Eleonora and Roman Witonski) by workshop I

Podium discussion with Mark James (USA, brother of Marek James) and Marc-Alain Grumelin (France, brother of Eleonora and Roman Witonski) by workshop I

Meeting Mark James (USA)

Meeting Mark James (USA)