Jugend für Dora e.V.



On the road to places - coming back with questions

Travels which we love - need - search for

From the encounters with the survivors and with young people from other countries, we started to develop different study tours. These were planned with clear expectations and were full of the high intensity of a short visit with the burning discussions and the energy that comes from searching and finding out.

The organisation of such trips is based on various fundamentals. Sometimes our wishes and expectations are reflected in the programme on site, already discussed with museums or memorials. Sometimes we also offered a performance, such as the public reading in Peenemünde 1999 that became a farreaching experience. Afterwards we had our first public discussion with technically rather than socially interested people. Another time it was our spontaneity and curiosity for such places, to Museums like Wannsee or the Museum for resistance in Berlin.

However, in almost all cases, personal contacts gave the crucial stimulation to go on a trip. At the very beginning the first trip led us in 1998 to the Anne-Frank-Foundation in Amsterdam, followed by trips to Terezim and Prague, to Northern France and Paris as well as to Auschwitz and Krakow. All of them were very clearly organised from a scientific and social background and instead mainly formed of personal conversations.

We had some almost family outings, especially the one to Belgium which benefited from the marvellous hospitality of the Belgium survivors Albert Hoey and Leopold Claessens, who guided us to the places of their personal imprisonment in Breendonk, but also to other authentic places of the German occupation and deportation in Antwerpen and Mecheln.

Curiosity brought us more than once to Peenemünde, a place to "rub" and which questions and presentation namely contributed to the youth for Dora development. The preparation for the first trip happened through the reading in 1998 followed by a second in 2001 in the new Museum - which isn't a memorial - and which showed us new face.

Personal contacts took us also to southern Germany, to places of KZ Natzweiler subcamps in the area of Stuttgart/ region Würtenberg and some years later beyond the borders to the KZ Natzweiler memorial in Alsace/ France.

An early trip to the Culture and Documentations Centre of Roma and Sinti in Heidelberg in 1999 was much more than a Museum visit. It was rather an introduction to the culture, situation and work of the minority in Germany over the last decades and in the present.

A similar mixture of memorial places, visits to commemoration initiatives and to the political prison of the GDR in Schwerin offered a study tour northwards to Mecklenburg in May 2003.

Following repeated discussions about resistance in occupied countries we returned to France in autumn 2003 to Grenoble, up to the Vercors Mountains and into the Midi. The first part of the programme was the French resistance. Looking south we focused on the situation of people who had tried to leave the occupied European countries and ended up in internment camps in the South, at the Spanish border or in Spanish camps. At each stage of the trip we were accompanied by witnesses of the different periods or events, so it became really three dimensional, well argued, exciting and filled with increasing questions. Thanks to the great friendship and organisation of Philippe Reyx it was also possible to get to know new ways of dealing with history and the conflicts of nowadays, e.g. in the "peace school" in Grenoble.

Small groups, high intensity and extensive complexity, which is "breaking out of all pores", always forms our travel atmosphere. It's not possible to separate between witnesses, historical places and the present, that also shows the difficulty of dealing with it and it brings up new issues for the future - which we have to take up and carry on ………

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