Educational trip to the Buchenwald Memorial

An opportunity for our mentees and volunteers to spend time together in a different context and to talk to each other was the educational trip to Buchenwald together with the district project Gorkistraße 120 (Malteser Hilfsdienst e.V.), financed by the Freistaat Sachsen. Together with 12 mentees and volunteers we went to the Buchenwald memorial near Weimar on June 24, 2003.

During Nazi era in Germany, the Buchenwald concentration camp was located at this site, one of numerous concentration camps on German territory. Today, this place is a memorial where, in addition to commemorating the victims of the Nazi dictatorship, important educational work is also carried out.

The objective of our educational trip

On our excursion we wanted to bring together people with different biographies and backgrounds to deal with racism and discrimination, about its manifestations in general and the Holocaust in particular. Racist and discriminatory actions existed long before the Nazi era and did not end after 1945, because unfortunately both phenomena are still a part of our society. It was valuable for us to look into the past of German history to understand what consequences can follow and what continuities exist up to the present.

The day in Buchenwald

When we arrived at the memorial site, we were welcomed directly by our educational advisor. The day began with an introductory group discussion where we exchanged our prior knowledge about the Nazi dictatorship and the Buchenwald concentration camp. The discussion lasted longer than planned, as some of the participants lacked important prior knowledge. This made the exchange of information more valuable.

Afterwards, our group went on a guided tour of the grounds of the Buchenwald Memorial. We visited the old Buchenwald train platform, the „Caracho Way“ that led to the camp gate, the prison, and the incineration facility. At each of the sites we were given an introduction by our educational speaker, who knew how to generate deep conversations and discussions afterwards. Our group was extremely interested and inquisitive. Despite the great heat that prevailed that day, our participants participated actively in the discussions.

At the end, there was another discussion in the seminar room, which provided space for joint reflection and gave participants the opportunity to reflect and share their impressions and new knowledge.

A summary

The trip to the Buchenwald Memorial and the intensive study of the history of the site and the Holocaust was not only very moving and informative.  It also helped to raise awareness of racism and discrimination and their effects on society. This experience was still intensively discussed by our volunteer and mentees and will leave a lasting mark on their relationship.

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