Contemporary Witnesses on Police Brutality and Forced Labour in World War II
Action for Peace #64
For many years, SCI-D and the Augustaschacht Memorial near Osnabrück have been conducting Study- and Workcamps at the historical place with young international volunteers.
Volunteers contribute to make visible the stories of the often forgotten millions of forced labourers and the hundreds of thousands of prisoners of labour education camps during the Second World War.
This year, on occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of National Socialism and the war in Europe, the cooperation was redesigned in a special way.
Volunteers had the opportunity to interact with international participants online, to contribute to historical-biographical work and to take part in virtual tours through the memorial.
The focus was on a contemporary witness interview with a forced labourer who experienced war and the Holocaust. In addition, participants had the opportunity to exchange different historical perspectives and cultures of remembrance as well as to communicate about references to the present.
Nine volunteers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France and Spain worked together online to prepare the story of a Ukrainian prisoner of the former Nazi labour education camp at Augustaschacht.
They each wrote text fragments of a biographical interview with the former forced labourer, helped with translations where possible, put the fragments together, put them in relation with historical context which they researched, and thus jointly traced the biography of this person in order to preserve it for the future.
The joint project of the volunteers will be included in the memorial’s exhibition and thus serve further documentary and educational purposes.
Participants enjoyed input workshops, heard different expert lectures and joined guided virtual tours through Augustaschacht and Gestapokeller Memorials.
In between, the shared time was used for different social activities, such as yoga sessions, movie watching, cooking and dancing together. Many of them have stayed in contact after these 2 weeks.