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

IBB gGmbH also creates places of remembrance in Eastern Europe 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.  The second construction phase of the Trostenets Memorial in Belarus was erected through a funding campaign initiated and coordinated by IBB gGmbH. The building was handed over during a ceremony on 29 June 2018 ,in the presence of the heads of state of Belarus, Germany and Austria. The Trostenez Memorial commemorates the mass murder of Belarusian, German, Austrian and Czech Jews, other civilians, partisans and resistance fighters by the National Socialists during the Second World War.

The Chernobyl History Workshop has been operating in Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine since 2012. The Advisory and Meeting Centre supports and advises Chernobyl victims in solving their social and legal problems and is setting up 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.

Funding of memorial tours and „Jugend erinnert“

Since December 2015 IBB gGmbH has been recognised by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) as a certified central body for funding memorial tours. For this purpose, IBB gGmBH receives funds from the Federal Children and Youth Plan (KJP). Since 2019 funding has been provided within the framework of the federal programme “Jugend erinnert” [Youth remembers] from the KJP fund of BMFSFJ, with additional funding by the Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs. According to the current guidelines, these funds are to be used for trips by educational institutions (excluding schools) from all over Germany for memorial trips to places of learning about Nazi history both within Germany and abroad. In cases of cooperation between an educational institution which is not a school, and a school, trips can also be funded from federal funds, given the project lead lies with the other educational institution.

History Workshop Leonid Lewin Minsk

The History Workshop is a meeting place for the last remaining survivors of the Minsk ghetto, forced labour in Germany, and concentration camps. It was opened in 2003 and has become a central place of understanding and reconciliation, as well as an educational and research centre for the history of the Holocaust and other Nazi crimes.

Here, contemporary witnesses and their relatives can meet with historians and young people from Belarus and other European countries in order to pass on their life stories. In this dialogue with future generations, a hope that wars between the peoples will not be repeated is articulated. In addition, the history workshop sees itself as an educational centre in which blindspots of German-Belarusian history are dealt with.

The history workshop is located in one of the last remaining buildings from the time of the ghetto and is jointly operated by IBB gGmbH Dortmund, IBB “Johannes Rau” Minsk, and the Association of Jewish Organizations 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.

Trostenets Memorial

Trostenets was the largest extermination site in Belarus during the German occupation from 1941 to 1944. Between 50 000 and 206 500 people were killed, buried in mass graves; some were later exhumed and burned.

With the support of IBB gGmbH, a new major memorial for the victims of National Socialism has been under construction in Belarus since 2014. More than 70 years after the end of the Second World War, the extensive memorial site Maly Trostenets close to the capital Minsk commemorates the mass murder of Belarusian, Austrian, German and Czech Jews, other civilians, partisans and resistance fighters.

In 2014, famous historians and experts in historical-pedagogical work began their work and, in German-Belarusian cooperation, organised the touring exhibition “Extermination Site Maly Trostenets. History and Memory”. It has been displayed in Germany, Belarus and other countries since 2016.

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.