Today the documentation of the project arrived. It is a small brochure with texts and photos. They will soon go on their way to the project Partners!
Speech for the commemoration ceremony at the Bullenhuser Damm Memorial, 20.4.2015
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.
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.
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.
We received this picture from Guy, family member of Marek James. This is what he wrote:
„As you remember we took home the note with Marek’s name (after his balloons didn’t take off), few days ago we sent it to the sky in Israel.“
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.
… 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:
Meeting family members:
Some press articles were released in the last days, Although all in German, we would like to present them here also.
The film made by the workshop will soon be sent to you on a DVD and will be presented also on our vimeo channel (this will take some time, sorry for that!) Also there is a TV report including short interviews with the Polish and Italian students (from the interview- and the video-workshop when they were at Bullenhuser Damm with Ytzhak Reichenbaum). Unfortunately this isn´t presented online.
Hamburg Journal (TV)
NDR Radio (from 0:15:00)
Yesterday the commemoration ceremony for the children of Bullenhuser Damm took place in the school gym in Bullenhuser Damm – on the 70th day of their death. Relatives of the children from all over the world were attending – from USA, Israel, Italy, France, Germany. This year our Youth Meeting Project had the possibility to be a part of the ceremony – with a film (well done, Workshop V!), with poems, a speech, balloons and a minute of silence (ideas and realisation by Workshop II – you were great onstage), with an handout about how remembrance might look in the future (Workshop III) and many more. Also our young people asked family members to plant roses together with them in the Memorial´s rosegarden. For us, the organisators, it was a great final point of our project and we are so pleased to see how everyone was making friends. With some photos of yesterday I would like to thank everyone participated in this project – knowing about what happened in the past will make a difference for a better future.
Some more impressions from the workshops – saturday and sunday in Neuengamme concentration camp Memorial. Workshop 1: interviews with family members and participants; Workshop 2: planning to participate in the commemoration ceremony; Workshop 3: Handling history; Workshop 4: Remembrance and the Internet; Workshop 5: Documentation: A Video Workshop
Whilst the meeting is still going on – here are first impressions of what we already did. These are photos of the presentations – the students from the different countries were explaining what kind of research they did in their countries. This happened last Friday . Presentation of the Polish group: Presentation of the Italian group: Presentation of the French group: Presentation of the Dutch Group: Presentation of the German group: Some of the family members of the murdered children were visiting the Memorial and were impressed by the films and the roll-up-presentations the Groups did: