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
Rosemarie Koster (the Dutch group)