Remeberance and Visions

Remembering means…

The conditions of the times influence the biographies of people. History always is history as experienced by people. This is why a culture of remembrance needs more than museums, archives and memorials, but should also include subjective aspects.

Excursions to memorials and personal exchanges, especially regarding National Socialism, have been an integral part of the work of IBB from the beginning. Only those who do not repress the memory of violence, hate and destruction are able to develop non-violent utopias of living together for the future.

… looking ahead

However, looking at current events shows that again and again societal processes and events may act to undermine freedom and justice. The most recent wars and right-wing terrorism are just two examples.

The remembrance of past events helps us to evaluate our present with an alert eye and to make sure whether the path we are on is still the one we want to pursue.

Learning at the actual places

The IBB organises learning at the actual site of the event. We bring the necessary background knowledge to the table and make sure that people start conversations. In doing so, we are a competent service provider and partner for institutions in the fields of education and training.

We offer:

  • International exchange programmes
  • Excursions to memorial places
  • Field excursions and school trips
  • International discussion forums.

Often we work with our cooperation partners for several years. Using our experience and expertise, we develop sophisticated programmes – thought through in both content and organisation.

The IBB creates sites for a culture of remembrance

The IBB also creates sites of remembrance itself. One example is the History Workshop Leonid Lewin in Minsk, which scientifically researches the history of the Minsk Ghetto, advises and supports survivors and offers a broad educational programme.

With the support of IBB, in Maly Trostents, near the capital Minsk, work is currently underway to create a new large-scale site of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism, remembering the mass murder of European Jews and forced labourers during the Second World War.

Since 2012, the Chernobyl Remembrance Center is active in the town of Charkiw in Eastern Ukraine. This centre for consultation and encounter supports and advises those affected by Chernobyl in solving their social and legal problems, and is building an archive of contemporary witnesses.

Contemporary witnesses

People who have experienced historical events themselves: In our many projects dealing with recent history (e.g. World War II, Chernobyl, Fall of the Berlin Wall, 50 Years of Migration) we let contemporary witnesses talk about their personal experiences during these extraordinary times – for example in front of pupils or at events.

Traces of National Socialism

Since 1986 up to 40 seminars each year visit the memorials to the victims of National Socialism. For IBB the primary excursion location is Auschwitz, the best known place of the genocide of the European Jews and the singular symbol of the Holocaust.

In its seminars IBB is concerned with the question of how such a criminal system was able to function and how people became victims and perpetrators. Looking at the multitude of preserved documents, in talks with contemporary witnesses and scholars, these questions can be discussed in Auschwitz like virtually nowhere else.

The seminars also visit Kraków, a former centre of Jewish culture. Here, in visits to museums, synagogues, graveyards and through Jewish foods and klezmer music, one can experience what once constituted Jewish life.

History Workshop Leonid Lewin Minsk

The history workshop is meeting point for the survivors of the Minsk ghetto, of forced labour in Germany and of the concentration camps. It was opened in 2003 and has since become a place of geniality and of trust.

Contemporary witnesses meet with youths from Belarus and other European countries, in order to tell their life stories. In dialogue with the succeeding generations the hope is expressed that wars between the peoples will not be repeated. Beyond that, the workshop sees itself as an educational centre, where blank spots of German-Belarusian history are reviewed.

The history workshop is one of the last remaining houses from the time of the ghetto and is collectively operated by IBB Dortmund, IBB Minsk and the Association of Jewish Organisations and Communities in Belarus.

The Chernobyl Remebrance Centre in Kharkiv

In opening the world‘s first History Workshop Chernobyl in 2012, IBB started a project against forgetting and repressing the catastrophe. Today more than 25 000 of those affected by Chernobyl still live in Kharkiv, among them 12 000 of the more than 850 000 Liquidators, who between 1986 and 1989 worked on the destroyed reactor. The history workshop is a meeting point for Liquidators and a place of encounter where youths are told about the catastrophe.

Volunteers support the Liquidators and other victims of the catastrophe to assert their claims against the authorities. Also, sources and documents regarding Chernobyl are to be secured and the biographies of contemporary witnesses to be recorded.

Site of Remembrance Trostenets

Trostenets was the largest extermination site in Belarus during German occupation from 1941 to 1944. Between 50.000 and 206.500 people were killed, buried, later exhumed and burnt.

 In 1941 and 1942 more than 22.000 German citizens of Jewish origin were deported to Minsk and Trostenets. They were under the illusion that the National Socialist leadership would give them the opportunity to build a new existence there. Upon arrival in Minsk, however, the majority of the deportees were immediately killed and buried in mass graves.

Remembrance together

Besides our activities on ‘Traces of National Socialism’, we develop and organise projects for youths on historical topics. In this we are working for and with a diversity of partners.

IBB organises learning at the location of the event. We provide the necessary background knowledge and enable the start of the conversation. In this, we are a competent service provider and partner for organisations in education and further education.

Persons, who have experienced history themselves: In many projects regarding recent history (e.g. Second World War, Chernobyl, Fall of the Berlin Wall, 50 years of migration) we give a voice to contemporary witnesses, reporting on their personal experiences – for example in front of classes of pupils or at events.