Jugend für Dora e.V.



What shall we call it - the rare conversations

Encounters with witnesses of the time

The conversation with survivors, with witnesses of the concentration- and extermination camps became for us and all who spent time with us, something almost natural, still bearing in mind that these encounters are very special and unusual. We met people from all over the world, got to know their stories and learned of their experiences. Some of them we met again and again and developed quite close relationships. This was not always possible, because of their home countries and their socio-economic backgrounds.

We met survivors not only at the camps of Dora, Ellrich or Harzungen, but also on our study tours in their home countries and with their families. They gave us very different point of views and offered us unique insights into their thoughts.

Through various encounters and letters, a deep confidence has developed between both groups of people. Now, we have to learn that these relationships have a limited life. Out of this something new is growing for us, and it's our responsibility to record and pass on their experiences in another way than personal conservations with survivors.

The conversations with survivors have extended our horizon greatly as we have learned from their reports - not only from their own experiences and humiliation in concentration camps, but also from their families' experiences during the war, especially from the rather less known war in Eastern Europe. Above all was it very encouraging and enriching to hear how survivors were dealing with these experiences after the war.

Encounters and contacts moved forward our way of thinking and promoted questions which formed the development of our association. Conversations and later discussions about the relationships to such places as Wannsee, Auschwitz, Breendonk or south-western France were behind the idea to organise study tours. In same time they gave the impulse for dealing with the history of the concentration-camps and their structure, e.g. in the public performance of the reading from the Yves Béon book "Planète Dora" or during the seminar "Being a Stranger in Ellrich".

It is very difficult to mention only a few names, but we don't want to hide the great efforts in anonymity. We have to express our great gratitude to at least some people personally: Danke Willi Frohwein and Ewald Hanstein. Merci beaucoup Jean Mialet, Jacques Brun, Etienne Eckert, Yves Béon, Max Dutillieux, Jacques Grandcoin, Guido Schreve et Louis Garnier, Francois Heumann et Henry Bousson. Danku Albert Van Hoey and Albert Van Dijk, Leopold Classens and Josef Huybreghts. Dencuje barco Zbigniew Mikolajczak, Dencuje Otokar Litomisky and Vilem Murice. Bolschoje spasibo Pawel Petschenko and Nikolai Petrowitsch.

Voices of Survivors

"All my memories from this time of the war 1939 to 45 are connected with the KZ period. I lost half of my family. My father was brutally murdered by the Gestapo at the Fort VII in Posen in January 1942. My 16-year old brother was shot by the SS in June 1944, when my mother and I were in the same so-called "SS education camp ZABIKOWO b/Posen". My Mother was deported to Ravensbrück. I passed through the concentration-camps Gross-Rosen, Buchenwald-Langensalza - already with a red point symbolic signed, because I had tried to escape from the subcamp, and Mittelbau-Dora in Nordhausen. What matters the youth of Dora, I am your enthusiast, especially for the maintenance of the graves, the search for the death marches, the collection of the interviews. The so-called real historians keep a certain distance from the witnesses of the time; because they are not able provide a documentation. But the individual experiences are just as important as the documents. The Nazis knew this well. That's why the documents of many camps were destroyed and potential witnesses were murdered. From time to time the evil spirit of that time can be released from the bottle, to have a look on and to close the bottle again, that we are not forgetting, and that people can not blindly lie."

Zbigniew Mikolajczak (Polish survivor, 2005)

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