Youth Challenges History – Young People’s Contribution To European History Discourses

13 Aug 2005 - 20 Aug 2005, Krakow, Poland

UNITED training course

programme (pdf 84 kB)

 

Report

Order the printed version by sending an email to order@unitedagainstracism.org.

The UNITED training course, which was held during seven days in the building of a school in a beautiful village next to Krakow, focused on the most arguable and acute topic ¬ European history. 27 young delegates of different organisations from all over Europe, mostly from Central and Eastern Europe participated in the UNITED training course. Through various working methods ¬ discussions, brainstorming, presentations, small working groups, games – the participants showed their strong interest in the training’s theme. They also shared their personal experience and that of their organisations. The training course has gathered young people, who were not engaged with UNITED before, or are still not members of the UNITED network, despite most of the participants were the representatives of the NGOs working in the field of anti-discrimination, human rights, history, etc.
The idea to organise such training has appeared during the UNITED conference in Goteborg (Sweden) in 2001. For the first time the idea was realized in 2003, when a summer school with the title “History as a Cause of Conflicts in Europe” was realized by UNITED. This year’s training course was organized and provided by the common efforts of the UNITED secretariat and an international team consisting of the representatives of NGOs from different countries: Leon (Germany/former volunteer with UNITED in Amsterdam), Marta (Poland), Vanya (Bulgaria), Korbinian (Austria), Eric (France/Germany), Florian (Poland/Austria) and Michael (Germany/Poland).
Below you find the report written by the participants about their activities during the training course.
Morning
The training course was started with a presentation of the organizing group and background information about the idea of the training course. After this official start the second part of icebreaking and getting to know took part. We already began with this the night before. A first thematic exercise was the so called “Identity molecule”, which helped us participants to get some more information about the others and our identity, as everybody had to write down certain features, which have an identifying meaning for him/her. Later all the papers where collected in a circle and some examples where used to show that different features lead to identification of a group and its distinction from another group. After the identity molecule a more theoretical introduction by Leon focused on concepts of history, memory and Europe. This presentation led to a discussion about the different meanings that history has for everybody and to a debate whether there is a European history and what would this mean for Europe.

Afternoon
For the afternoon session Mrs. Orla-Bukowska, a professor from the Jagiellonian University of Krakow gave an introductory lecture “How European History is remembered” and presented different aspects of history. A work in small groups helped to understand these theories better, as we had the task to decide in our small groups when WW2 started, who the main victims were and which countries have been involved. The different results which were presented afterwards in the plenum by the different groups and their explanations gave a first clue that there is not just one interpretation and perception of historical facts and that the understanding of history depends on different perspectives.

Morning
Media as modern history writer
The topic of Monday morning was ‘The comparison of media coverage of the liberation day of WWII in different countries’. The participants had prepared short presentations of the celebrations and the media coverage in their respective countries.
The previous evening we had had a terminological debate on the word ‘history’, and therefore Leon suggested we will first concentrate in discussing the terms ‘history’ and ‘collective memory’. We then divided into two groups. Eric led the history-group and Leon the memory-group. We did not come up with a common definition, but the discussion itself was lively and enlightening.
Later we were divided into five groups, according to nationality, so that in each group there would be various nationalities presented. The groups started by hearing out how the ending of WWII had been celebrated and how it was reported in media in each participant’s home country. After that we discussed the differences and similarities. The conclusion was then presented to the whole group. We saw acting – participants playing the role of a news reporter – as well as diagrams. After the presentations we discussed some topics. Especially the concepts of being a victim/winner and being guilty/innocent were addressed, and many of the participants felt this conversation was very fruitful.

Afternoon
“Family view on history versus official view”
Workshop with Experts from Karta
Selfdescription of Karta on their homepage: www.karta.org.pl

“The KARTA Center is an independent non-governmental organization (incorporated as a foundation), documenting and popularizing the recent history of Poland and Eastern Europe. It continues the activities of the illegal “Karta” and the clandestine Eastern Archives of the 1980s.”
Examples of the work of Karta:
- 20th century history
- “individual history”
- Archives, historical competitions
- Oral history, for example the “Mauthausen-Project”: Main Question: How people from different countries narrate after 60 Years about experiences in Mauthausen”
Short summary of the workshop:
The overall-topic of the afternoon-session was the influence and connection between official and family- history. The session began with an extensive report about the work of Karta in the past and present. After an introduction into their methods of biographical working (“Oral history”) and running projects the two experts introduced the participants to the method of the “family-tree”. The participants heard the reports with the family-tree of participants from Ireland, Russia, Germany, Latvia and Austria.
After a summary the workshop ended with some not really convinced participants.

Main points of their opinion of the connection between official and family history:
1. Interviews help the people to think about their identity and show how identity is formed by experiences and the nationality
2. Biography is built up from education, environment, national history and personal experiences
3. how national history is formed can be seen in family-history

Visible history
Beginning at 10:00 o’clock in the morning we had a short presentation of the most important monuments of Cracow:
- The Royal Fortress
- The main square
- The Copernicus University
- A short visit to the most important churches and cathedral.
In the second part of the morning we visited the synagogue and the Jewish cemetery from Cracow. This visit was guided by Jakob who gave us a lot of interesting information about the Jewish religion and traditions. This visit ended with a song in front of the synagogue. The visit helped us to have a better understanding of the Jewish traditions and customs and gave us a more comprehensive view on their society. This visit was also an introductory part at what was following: our meeting with Bernard Offen, a survivor of the Holocaust and the author of the movie: “My Homeland- the concentration camp”.

The following part can be titled as: “Welcome to the world!” We visited the Jewish quarter, the Jewish exhibition, the Jewish pharmacy and in the end the former ghetto. The atmosphere made us to relive, nearby Bernard Offen, who spent his childhood in the Jewish ghetto during WW II.
This visit itself was a proof that one’s individual memory develops by taking part in communities and it also emphasized the importance of History remembrance as a real duty of the young generation.

Morning
Auschwitz

I would like to start by saying that this was a tough report to write. I went over it hundreds of times because I didn’t think my words could fully illustrate what I saw and experienced in Auschwitz – and even now, writing the final version, I have my doubts regarding the extent to which my story can be faithful to reality.
In the morning of the 17th August we walked through the main gate of Auschwitz, under the inscription “Arbeit Macht Frei”, maybe the quintessential irony of the Nazis against their victims.

As we were guided through the main exhibition, we discovered the realities of camp life: shocking living and sanitary conditions (straw mattresses and bunk beds where people were overcrowded, insalubrious lavatories and latrines) and the guide gave us an insight on the harsh treatment the inmates were getting from the Nazi soldiers and officers (incredibly long roll-calls ¬ the longest took 19 hours ¬ little food, most often than not too little to survive, hard work and cruel, random punishment).

The next thing we saw was Block 11 ¬ the camp prison and the headquarters of the Gestapo. A memorial was created in the yard where executions used to be carried out and we all took a moment to cherish the memory of those who had suffered and died there. The basement of Block 11 shelters the former prison cells, including starvation cells and standing cells. Another memorial was created in one of the starvation cells, in memory of the self consented sacrifice of father Maksymilian Kolbe. His story is, in broad lines, the following: during a roll-call it was discovered that a prisoner had escaped. As a punishment fifteen other inmates were randomly picked up from the group and sentenced to death by starvation. One of them, a young father of the family, started crying in despair: “my children, my poor children, they’re never going to see me again” so father Maksymilian Kolbe offered to go to the starvation cells in his place and, much to everybody’s surprise, the Nazi officer consented to this change. The young inmate, whose life was thus saved, survived Auschwitz and the war and lived to be 94.
The next part of the exhibition contained personal items that Auschwitz prisoners had brought along with them: pieces of luggage, pots, clothes, shoes, hair brushes in huge quantities and a part of the two tones of human hair discovered in the camp after liberation. This part of the exhibition was probably one of the most shocking because it offered that personal touch that is always disturbing: it showed beyond any doubt that this was about real people and it spoke loud and clear about their lives, cut short or forever changed by the war, by Nazi ideology, by Auschwitz.

Our tour of the former concentration camp ended with a visit of the gas chamber and crematory, bombed by the Nazis before the end of the war and rebuilt from the original parts for educational purposesa bleak end to a bleak journey.

So much more can be said about the emotions Auschwitz arises, but about that there can be no general account: I can only write about my feelings, because Auschwitz is, in the end, an individual experience, an experience that we all take in and cope with differently. But beyond my anger, beyond the questions that continually popped up in my mind (“why?”, “how was this possible?”) there remains the overwhelming spirit of the place itself, as a universal symbol of death and terror. Because in my eyes Auschwitz has stopped being just about the Second World War or just about Nazi ideology. Its meaning can be broadened to all suffering brought along by ethnic and racial persecution, totalitarianism and the intrusion of political and economic interests in private life.

Afternoon
The most interesting part of the first day was the group work we did on the national exhibitions. We were divided into five groups, and our task was to visit two or three exhibitions of the nations that were given to us, and then prepare a presentation on the following questions:
1. Who made the exhibitions?
2. Which is the focus of the exhibitions? (victims, perpetrators, ?)
3. What was very impressing for you? (pictures, signs, sounds, ?)
My group visited the national exhibitions of Austria and Czech Republic. We could compare two very different exhibitions. The Austrian one was quite old and presented also a perception of the WWII, which is today not accepted any more by the majority of the Austrians as an Austrian participant told. A completely different exhibition was then the Czech one, which just was completely renovated a couple of years ago and gave us an impression of the today’s view on the WWII in Czech Republic.

Morning
Auschwitz II ¬ Birkenau

At our second day in Oswiecim a tour of Auschwitz II Birkenau was planned. Again divided into two groups we started to explore the frightful period of our history.
Auschwitz II was located at a distance of 3 km from the main camp, in the village of Brzezinka. It covered approximately 175 hectares and contained over 300 buildings.
From our guides we learnt that the camp in Birkenau was divided into several fields and sectors, which in fact constituted separate camps. The total number of men and women prisoners reached approximately 100.000 in august 1944. It was on the territory of Birkenau that the Nazis constructed most of their instruments of mass destruction, namely: 4 crematoria with gas chambers, two makeshift gas chambers in specially converted farmhouses, cremation pyres and pits.
We started our tour not from the main gate but at the place of the former bunkers where Jewish men, women, and children, as well as Polish political prisoners selected by physicians in the camp hospital, were killed with poison gas. The bunkers contained provisional gas chambers and they operated from the early months of 1942 until the spring and summer of 1943 when four new buildings with gas chambers and crematorium furnaces came into use.
Having visited the mass graves of Soviet prisoners-of-war we moved further. Crematoria five and four were our next stops. There thousands of Jewish men, women and children were murdered with poisoned gas and their bodies were burned afterwards. Everyone was shocked by the view of a dreadful pond with ashes. It is even impossible to estimate how many people the Nazis ‘buried’ there.
Passing by “Canada” (the storehouse of property taken from murdered victims) we got to the so-called “Zentralsauna”. In this building, brought into operation at the end of 1943, newly arrived prisoners designated by the SS for forced labour in the concentration camp were registered and disinfected. The SS also made additional “selections” here, sending pregnant women to be murdered in the gas chambers.
Our walk continued. We visited the International monument to the victims of Auschwitz situated between the ruins of crematoria II and III. Nearby we could see commemoration stones in many languages.
Later on we had the opportunity to view the prisoners living quarters as they really were. The brick barracks built directly on the swampy ground are situated to the left of the unloading ramp. To the right there are the wooden barracks. The wooden buildings had once served as field stables for 52 horses. After some modifications they were used to accommodate up to 1000 prisoners.

Eventually we finished our tour at the main gate. The entrance gate that prisoners called the “Gate of Death” was located in the main SS guardhouse building. Trains carrying deportees entered here after May 1944 on the railroad spur that extended into the camp.
Overloaded with emotions and impressions we spent the journey back almost in silence. We learnt another history lesson and, thus, realized we had lots of common things to share which must neither be repeated nor forgotten.

Afternoon
The Thursday afternoon can be divided into 2 parts. During the first part the small groups from the day before presented their results of their visits to the different “National exhibitions” in Auschwitz. In this way it became very clear that there are for different nations and cultures the tragedy of the WWII can have a very different meaning and can be perceived in a different way. The groups presented not only their results, but gave sometimes additional information, as in some group one representative of one of the exhibitions shared his/her own national and cultural background and view. In this way and with the help of one expert from the Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau some exhibitions could be understood a bit better.
The second part of the afternoon belonged to Cor, who presented his ideas and working methods for the work with intercultural youth groups at memorial places. The title of his lecture was “Knowledge is power- a humanistic view on society”. He shared his experiences with us, the participants and we discussed in which way one can use memorial places not only as a place of teaching history, but also to create a multicultural society.

Morning
Intercultural history education

The Friday morning was a normal Friday morning of a training course, morning shower, breakfast, chatting and getting ready for the plenary work. But on the other hand ¬ this was not an ordinary morning. The first thing most of us noticed was that there was no electricity. Also the trainers had noticed that and then a little problem aroused. The presentation, we had to have, had been prepared in PowerPoint so the trainers had to be creative in finding a way how to tell their story without PowerPoint.
First we had the presentation of Michaela and Leon about their project about new views how to educate history, afterwards Stef and Cor, still sustaining the lack of electricity, made their presentation about their future project ¬ a new museum in Netherlands about history and tolerance.

After the presentations we split up into two groups to work for the development of these projects. The group that was working with Cor and Stef on development of the museum idea also split up in two groups, becoming the visitors and creators of the museum and discussing the things they would like to and would not like to see in the museum. The ideas were gathered together and it will be really interesting to visit the museum when it will be opened and to see how much of our ideas have become to reality.

Afternoon
The afternoon workshop for Friday was based around two methods designed to encourage the participants to use their creativity in designing projects relating to the themes of the course. First Vanya explained the principles and possibilities of the ‘World Cafe’ method which is built around the idea of free discussion and free movement between the participants and the themed ‘coffee tables’. In our case there were five different questions to be discussed, all of which related the experiences of the course to the themes of history education, fundraising, future projects, the role of memorial spaces and… . After three phases of discussion with a changing mix of participants, our conclusions were presented by one person from each group.

This method proved both effective and popular with the participants and showed how we as a whole group had learned to become more fluid and receptive to each others’ ideas when working together. We were surprisingly quickly able to agree about what were the important issues and what we could propose. To give one example, the group talking about ‘how could history education be used as a positive force in European society’ was able to rapidly filter through a discussion about ‘what is Europe?’ and ‘history’s role in society’ and propose several principles for improving the common model of history education in schools. These centred around encouraging the students to critically think about the whole concept of how history is taught through evaluation processes with their teachers and to use intercultural, international, intergenerational, interactive exchange as much as possible to create a dynamic and multiperspective understanding of history.
The time management of the ‘world cafe’ method allowed that most groups produced principles for action rather than concrete projects addressing logistical issues.

The next workshop ‘Interactive Project Planning’ allowed us to do this by working in pairs to create a blueprint for a project. This exercise depended greatly on the personal chemistry of each couple but the results at the end showed that many of the people on this course were able to use their creativity to dream up an idea and work out how it could be practically implemented. By asking for a specific timeframe for the first action and by giving all the participants a chance to become part of each project, this workshop encouraged us all to leave the course already thinking of our next steps. The positive attitude of the afternoon session was really supported by the morning sessions which let us see how ideas can become real projects for a change.

During a project exhibition we had the opportunity to read about the various project ideas and inscripe for those projects that we are interested in. The initiators of the projects got the inscription lists to be able to contact the others as possible partners. The training was closed with an evaluation: We noted on the flipcharts what we can take with us from the training, what we throw away because it wasn’t good and what was missing. In a final discussion round, it was concluded that the training course had a very positive impact on the participants and the future youth work in the field of intercultural history education.
Immigrant Council of Ireland

The Immigrant Council of Ireland was set up in 2001 as a response to the rising level of immigration by Social Innovations Ireland, a social policy thinktank. It is an independent NGO working with and for immigrants on three levels; information services, advocacy and outreach. The information service provides tries to answer peoples questions about the irish immigration system’s requirements and procedures, helping them resolve their own legal status, re-unite with their families, attain citizenship, residency or work permits. The information service is distributed through one on one information sessions in our Dublin office, through our telephone information service or through numerous leaflets and booklets distributed around the country.

Our advocacy work aims to promote the rights of immigrants’ thorough engagement with policy makers and by highlighting the positive aspects of immigration in the media. This work is continuous and varied, with smaller initiatives such as promoting health check ups among non English speaking construction workers and major campaigns such as the one around the governments proposed changes to the Irish immigration legislation; where ICI has led the debate in conferences, talks to local groups and in the media.

ICI also supports the Minority Led Community Organisations (MLCOs) which have been set up by members of the various new communities in Ireland, many in the past couple of years as the level of immigration has risen sharply. We have helped structure a network of information exchange and support of each others social, cultural and campaigning events. We are working to bring the different MLCOs together to co-operate on policy issues, such as the 35 groups who drafted a joint policy statement to the government about possible improvements to the immigration system.

 

Local Youth Council from Fagaras

Motto: “Together for the past, present and future.”
The Local Youth Council from Fagaras , integrating part of the Pal-tin project, initiated by the asociation Master Forum , was chosen in the 14th of March 2001, through the decision of the Local Council from Fagaras. The election took place in 20 polling stations,(schools from Fagaras), almoust 9500 pupils voting their representatives. From the total number of representatives were elected the mayor, the vice-mayor and the secretary.

Local Youth Council from Fagaras works by his own statute, being devided in committees with different profiles:
- Education and Human Rights;
- Social assistance;
- Ecology;
- Culture;
- Sport, tourism, agrement and leasure;
- Finances and budget;
- Image and relations with mass-media.

PAL-TIN PROJECT
The Local Youth Council Fagaras, Romania
Contact: adina_adina_adina@yahoo.com

Projects:
- humanitary projects;
- art and culture projects;
- sport, entertainment and leisure projects;
- Human Rights projects;
- Ecological projects;
- New Millenium Developing Goalls projects;
- Historical projects;
- Childrens Rights projects;
- Training sessions and training courses on different topics;
- Exhibitions and festivals with different occassions;
- Intercultural projects.

 

Lithuanian Human Rights League

The Lithuanian Human Rights League is a public organization striving to assure that each resident of Lithuania would know the human rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania and the laws as well as legal acts, and, if necessary, it helps to defend them by all legal ways and means.

Taking an active part in the social life of Lithuania, the Lithuanian Human Rights League in 2005 joined the membership of the European Human Rights Association in Brussels. The collaboration with the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) in Paris and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) in Vienna is also being actively promoted. We are among the members of the NGO Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

The Lithuanian Human Rights League takes part in international and national projects in various fields of human rights implementation, protection and defence, taking over the valuable experience of other countries and international organizations, disseminating information on the conditions of human rights in Lithuania, has an impact on the Lithuanian State policy, disseminates information and provides a direct assistance to people, cooperates actively with the State institutions, non-governmental as well as international organizations protecting human rights.

 

European Youth Human Rights Network

EYHR-Net is a youth Human Rights organization that unites young people of different sex, age, nationality, race, religion, sexual orientation etc., to work for human rights understanding and protection in Latvia and in Europe.

The Aim of EYHR-Net is to contribute observation of general Human Rights in society, mostly among the young people. Contribute democracy and tolerance, appeal and motivate young people on co-operation for creation of democratic and safe Europe, where observing the Human Rights is a fundamental value.

Goals of the organization:
- To represent and to protect youth interests and rights in terms of education, social rights etc;
- To organize information and education campaigns for young people;
- To work in conjunction with the Latvian government, the Council of Europe, the European Union and the United Nations Organization decision-making process, as well as to send delegates to associated meeting and events to represent and protect the interests of EYHR-Net.

EYHR-Net in 2005 has six main clearly identified priorities:
- Human Rights education;
- Antidiscrimination and fight against intolerance among the young people;
- Young women’s and children’s rights;
- Human trafficking;
- LGBT issues (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender);
- Youth and closed institutions (prisons, mental hospitals, refugee camps).

EYHR-Net organizes different types of activities – seminars, discussions, street actions, photo contests, training courses, etc. Regular activities include participation in the European Wide Action Week against Racism every year in March and organizing sport activities against racism ¬ Football against racism in October and Basketball against racism in March. EYHR-Net is a support organization in Latvia for Amnesty International and organizes its campaigns in Latvia.

 

Adolescent Associations

Adolescent Association is a nongovernmental, nonprofit voluntary organization created in 1991 to address social issues of Romanian youth. Adolescent Association has 4 local branches and a branch in Republic Moldavia.

Adolescent Association is targeting at:
- youngsters: high school students and teens with special needs including HIV+ adolescents, drug users or former drug users, teenagers living in orphanages, youngsters with social communication disabilities.
- adults: teens family members, teachers, educators and health professionals.

Our history
1991 – Adolescent Association was build, initiated by a group of specialists from the medical and educational fields.
1992 – 1993- the organization creates a first networking Romania addressing sex education in high-schools
1994 – 1997- the young orphans that leave the Orphanages received support in getting a home, a job and for social integration.
1996 – a Counseling and Psychosocial Assistance Center for teenagers with special needs is built in the”Anghel Saligny” high-school.
1997 – creation of a psychosocial assistance service of drug users and their families at home.
1998 – youngsters are trained to educate youngsters starting the first peer education project.
1999 – rroma children from rural communities were involved in an informal educational process focus prepare them for mature life.
2000 – teenagers are trained in children rights promotion and abuse prevention.
1998 – 2002 HIV teenagers and their families received psychosocial support; were organization information campaigns in the community related to drug use e and HIV prevention
2002 – 2004 Adolescent Association staff and collaborating agencies received training in primary drug prevention and early intervention through workshops organized international at national level.
2003 – 2005 Project for Prevention of Abandonment in the Caritas Maternity Hospital in Bucharest

Our current activities are:
- peer education in high schools on drug and HIV prevention
- youth animation related to drug and HIV prevention
- social and psychosocial assistance of HIV children and adolescents and their families (counselling, leisure time activities with children at home delivering food and clothes at home house keeping)
- harm reduction interventions thought counselling and syringes exchange for drug users
- civic educations in high schools and promotions of volunteering among teens.
- development of educations materials related to health and social including disadvantages youth.

 

Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee is an independant non govermental organisation for protection of human rights.

The 4 main areas of work are:
1. Legal Defence Programme
2. Closed Institutions Programme
3. Refugees and Migrants Legal Protection Programme
4. Strategic Litigation Against Racial Discrimination Project – Joint project of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee and the European Roma Rights Centre ¬ Budapest.

The Legal Protection of refuges and migrants program has existed since 1994. It has been supported mainly by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and works in cooperation with the State Agency for Refugees at the Council of Ministers.

The programme offers:
- Free specialised legal consultations
- Representation and attorney defence to approximately 5,000 people annually,
- Representation in refugee status determination proceedings
- Professional and independent legal defence,
- Defence before the courts and other state institutions,
- It takes part in the development of the refugee and migrational policy of Bulgaria,
- Assistance for the successful integration of refugees in Bulgaria,
- Assist for their dignified return ¬ voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin.

The BHC Programme for Legal protection of refuges and migrants has 10 staff members. Five of them are lawyers and 4 are paralegal consultants.
www.bghelsinki.org

 

Zarya International Cooperation Group

Zarya International Cooperation Group (Zarya Group) is a non-profit association established in Spain, and registered with the Spanish Ministry of Interior in April 2005.

It has among its priority objectives, to support migrants and refugees, to promote tolerance and the respect for human rights, and to organize and endorse long and short term educational projects, aimed especially at the youth, in Spain and in other parts of the world.

 

Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste

Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) is a volunteer organization founded by Christians seeking to confront the era of National Socialism in German history. The recognition of German guilt for World War II was the starting point for Action Reconciliation, stated during the synod of the Protestant church in Germany 1958:

Action Reconciliation started its volunteer program in other countries than the ones named in the “Call for Peace”(Poland, Russia and Israel). It was perhaps too soon for some countries to respond positively, the wounds of the recent past were too deep. In the early years, starting in 1959, young volunteers helped to build among others: a social academy in Rotterdam (the Netherlands), a church and a home for the handicapped in Norway, a synagogue in Villeurbanne (France), a Kindergarten in Skopje (Yugoslavia), an irrigation plant on the Island of Crete (Greece), and an inter-national meeting center in the ruined cathedral of Coventry (England).

Action Reconciliation was founded as an all-German organization, but the division of Germany made joint work impossible. In East Germany, in 1962, the work of rebuilding what had been destroyed during the war began in three churches in Magdeburg. Out of this, an extensive summer camp program developed, bringing together people from Poland, the former USSR, Hungary and Romania. Since the political change in the former GDR and the resulting unification of the two Action Reconciliation – East and West – in 1991, more than 25 summer camps are now being organized in 10 European countries with 400 participants yearly. The summer camp volunteers work on Jewish cemeteries, on memorial sites of former concentration camps, and in social facilities.
Action Reconciliation in West Germany continued with the long-term volunteer program. In the middle of the sixties, social peace services took the place of construction work. Supporting and working with people in social facilities, with survivors of the Holocaust and minorities became the essence of the volunteer program.

Our work has grown and changed. Action Reconciliation – since 1968 called Action Reconciliation Service for Peace – is now active in several areas:
- Long- and short-term volunteer service in Israel, the USA, Western and Eastern Europe.
- Educational work, together with survivors of the Holocaust, at memorial centers of former concentration camps, in institutes and museums.
- Confronting German history, challenging right-wing extremism and anti-Semitism, lobbying for the recognition of “forgotten” victims of the Nazi oppression and participation in peace groups and initiatives.

The name of the Organization
The two words forming the name of “Action Reconciliation” (Aktion Sühnezeichen) reflect its back-ground, philosophy, activities and goals.
“Action” emphasizes the effort and energy invested in reconciliation between Germany and her victims should focus on working for peaceful relations and cooperation. The activities involve the individual and the nation alike, rather than simply remaining the administrative task of the government. They should overtly demonstrate the historical guilt and responsibility of the German people for the Nazi years and the desire for reconciliation with those whom Germany wronged.
“Sühne” means atonement: it points to the moral basis of compensation. We must confront our history and learn from it. The term “Sühne” recalls the terrible sins of the past as well as more recent failures. Such remembrance compels us to rethink our responsibility in the light of what it means to be a German after 1945.
“Zeichen” or “sign” represents the sense of modesty which should accompany our work. The work of our volunteers can only count as “Zeichen”, i.e. as symbols of atonement and of the desire for reconciliation. Furthermore, a sign is also a signal, it is a challenge – more has to be done.

asf@asf-ev.de
Source: www.asf-ev.de

 

Polish Humanitarian Organisation

PHO is a non governmental organisation registered in Poland, which works internationally and within the country. Our Mission is to make the world a better place through alleviation of human suffering and promotion of humanitarian values. PHO realises its mission by helping communities in crises to regain responsibility for their own future and become self-reliant. PHO shapes humanitarian attitudes among the public and creates modern culture of mutual help. PHO combines effectiveness with the respect for human dignity.

pah@pah.org.pl
source: www.pah.org.pl

 

One World Association

One World Association (Stowarzyszenie “Jeden Swiat”) is a Polish branch of Service Civil International – international network organisation. It’s been established as a non-governmental, non-profit organisation in 1992 and officially registered in 1994. The office and main activities are concentrated in Poznan, but there are also various local groups.
One of main activities run by OWA is Educational Programme “Rozni – Rowni” devoted to the topics of human rights, national miniorities and refugees. Within the frames of the Programme various initiatives are conducted – thematical workshops in schools, city actions and media campaigns (Day against Facism and Antisemitism, International Day of Human Rights, European Week Against Racism, Refugee Day), national and international seminars, study visits, issuing numbers of publications and international voluntary camps (so called workcamps).
Last year three main projects conducted concerned refugees, antidiscrimination and memorial places (this one in cooperation with SCI Germany).
On 30th September 2004 One World Association became the first laureate of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Prize for outstanding efforts and achievements in building peaceful cohabitation of communities, religions and cultures for running Educational Programme “Rozni-Rowni”. The prize is given annually to one NGO and one individual. OWA had the honour to receive the prize together with the former Polish Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki.

www.jedenswiat.org.pl

 

Bosporus Society ¬ Bulgaria

Bosfor Obshtestvo – Bulgaria / Bosporus Society – Bulgaria is non-governmental, non-profit organization. It has been established in 1999 by students from Political science and Sociology department, Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski”. Bosfor Obshtestvo-Bulgaria is one of five registered and independent organizations sharing the same idea and acting under the same name: Bosporus. So far there are Bosporus organizations in Germany, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria which are supported by the so-called Bosporus Groups formed in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia/ FYROM, Slovenia, Hungary an Spain. They all together form the Bosporus International Network.

By means of their project-related work the members aspire to inspire personal responsibilities, social activism and civic devotion as preconditions for a culture of democracy and peace, to promote the role of non-formal education and life-long learning as a way of bringing greater awareness to the people, to foster international cooperation and cross-border initiatives*.

The network aims at*:
Fighting against prejudices and ethnocentrism
Stimulating wider civic participation of youth
Inspiring social activism and civic responsibility
Raising multiethnic awareness
Maintaining greater empathy for cultural diversity
Promoting respect and mutual understanding

*) Extracts from the Bosporus Network Protocol signed on 25 of May 2003, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
bosfor_obshtesvo_bg@mail.com
www.bosporus.org

 

UNITED for Intercultural Action

UNITED for Intercultural Action
European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support
of migrants and refugees

Racism, nationalism, fascism, discrimination, asylum policies… all of them have a European dimension even though they often look like pure national issues. Reports from all over Europe demonstrate the increasing dangers facing migrants, refugees and ethnic minorities.
Often these dangers are increased by undemocratic intergovernmental decisions like the Schengen Treaty. Strangely enough, racist and fascist organisations have strong European links from Portugal to Russia, from Sweden to Italy. Fortress Europe needs to be fought at local, regional and European levels – it cannot be fought on one level alone.
Linked through UNITED, hundreds of organisations from a wide variety of backgrounds, from all European countries, work together on a voluntary basis. They base their cooperation on common actions and shared activities on a mutual respect.
UNITED is and will remain independent from all political parties, organisations and states, but seeks an active co-operation with other anti-racist initiatives in Europe.
Through the UNITED network organisations meet each other, work on common actions and share information. Europe-wide action weeks, campaigns and such are planned and discussed on UNITED conferences.
Like-minded organisations find each other on such conferences and work together on specific projects on specific topics. The workers in the secretariat are in constant contact with the network organisations, ensuring that information and proposals for action are transmitted rapidly. Information is received from more than 2300 organisations and mailings are sent out to about 2500 groups in Europe.
If you want to get involved… Discuss the ideas and aims of the UNITED network within your organisation. Let us know that you would like to join or receive information. And add us to your mailing list!

www.unitedagainstracism.org
info@unitedagainstracism.org