Afterwards,
it's just a part of you

Visits by young people to Auschwitz-Birkenau

 

Participants
Austria Claudia Irrmann, Albert Kropf, Astrid Kunze,
Sonja Mittermayr, Herta Neiss, Andreas Neiss
Belgium Mikaël Dreesen, Véronique Lebacq,
Claude Remacle, Gill Venturelli
France Esther-Guylaine Abdelaziz, Mathieu 'DFOR' Deodat,
Christophe Marcheteau
Germany Oliver Geremia Cioffo, Manuela Greifzu,
Halise Özbey, Monika Schween
Luxembourg Nicolas Anen, Frenz Biver, Melanie Noesen
The Netherlands Judith Becker, Daniel Blocq, Marieke Brouwer,
Gerry Faber, Nienke Ledegang, Anke Oude Brunink
Poland Tomek Laweczka, Sabina Stec, Wojtek
Stupnicki, Pawel Wawrzuta, Elzbieta Wezner

 

 


Visit to Auschwitz iwith a student group from the University of Linz in 1994.
I am studying history at the University of Vienna, and since 1993 I have been active in the Youth against Racism in Europe and the Committee for an International Workers Organisation.

Albert Kropf
Austria, 29 years

My graduation fell on a historically loaded day, February 12. Sixty-three years ago this day marked the outbreak of the civil war in Austria when socialists and communists rose against the fascist-led regime. Many finished up in the concentration camps - including Auschwitz. My visit strengthened my conviction that it is essential to combat racism, sexism, fascism and the extreme Right from the first moment they manifest themselves.


 

Visit to Auschwitz in May, 1995 with a group of school pupils organized by Denise Holstein, the only survivor of the Jews arrested during the razzia of January 15, 1943 in Rouen.
Although my studies in History and History of Art leave me little free time, I hope in a modest way to fulfil my duty of remembering, through my involvement in the association founded by Mme Holstein: 'N'oubliez pas les enfants d'Auschwitz'.

Christophe Marcheteau
France, 19 years

At the moment of leaving childhood behind, this journey to the heart of the unbearable and of human madness enabled me to take a large step towards maturity, and to confront day-to-day problems with a more critical spirit. In an age when information reigns, our society is every day flooded by images of violence, which risk leading to familiarisation and, finally, indifference. They should, on the contrary, revolt us and push us to action.


Visit to Auschwitz with the Fondation Auschwitz in 1997.
I am at the moment studying psychology and pedagogy at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. My future may lie in criminology.

Claude Remacle
Belgium, 20 years

I was outraged to realize in concrete terms what the concentration camps were. This brought me to reflect on what was happening from day to day in my immediate circles and across the world... I became frightened! Because everywhere, even the smallest signs lead one to predict that at any moment we could find ourselves on the same slippery slope. Intolerance, and the fear of the different, are just simple words, but they carry with them cruel connotations and horrific consequences.Visit to Auschwitz with the Fondation Auschwitz in 1997.
I am at the moment studying psychology and pedagogy at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve. My future may lie in criminology.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with a student group from the University of Linz in 1994.
I am deputy-head of the logistical department of a trading company.
In my professional life, I want to achieve enough success to enable me both to accomplish something worthwhile within a company without losing my humanity, and to avoid limiting the quality of my personal life or compromising my ideals.

Claudia Irrmann
Austria, 33 years

I have endeavoured to come to terms with the impressions and anxiety which followed my visit to Auschwitz through discussions with friends and acquaintances. Because of the visit and my discussions with other people afterwards, I have won some insight into my own prejudices and fears. I have the Auschwitz visit to thank for the realisation that I tend to be hasty in (pre)judging. This has helped me to resist the temptation towards the simple route at the cost of other people.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with the Dutch Auschwitz Committee in 1995.
I hope that both in my private life and in my work I shall find sufficient challenge, and be able to develop my capacities to the full, in order to make a positive contribution to the international community.

Daniel Blocq
The Netherlands, 21 years

To confront, and to put into perspective. A book is for each reader a different story. Noone's imagination is the same. Every interpretation, every visualization, is different. Reading a book about Auschwitz exercises the imagination. A visit to Auschwitz itself leaves nothing to the imagination. It is a confrontation with reality. Interpretation is no longer an option. The only remaining option is to put into perspective everything else.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in March 1998 with the Association: 'Never forget the children of Auschwitz', founded by Denise Holstein and Françoise Bottois.
I passionately love life, liberty, justice; I enjoy playing the violin, drawing, reading... Later, I would like to become a surgeon, join the organisation of 'Médecins du Monde', and travel the world to help the disadvantaged.

Esther-Guylaine Abdelaziz
France, 15 years

I am happy that I live in a country which is free and multicultural, and I am proud of the mixed brew which has produced me, which enriches me and predisposes me to an open vision of the world. Unfortunately, there are still ill-intentioned political men to disturb this balance, exploiting their convenient historical amnesia in order to exhume old ideologies. It saddens me that at the dawn of the 21st Century the vocabulary of ethnic cleansing and fascism, of the charnel house, of (historical) denial and injustice can again be the flavour of the day.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a group of pupils from several Lycées, accompanied by the Minister of Cooperation, Charles Goerens.
I plan to study architecture, in order to make the human environment more livable.

Frenz Biver
Luxembourg, 16 years

Through actually seeing Auschwitz, I understood for the first time the full horror of the executions in the gas chambers. I realized, through the stories of the survivors, what the consequences are of the racism which is still present in our countries. This is the dark side of the human soul, which I would like to fight.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with the Dutch Auschwitz Committee in 1995.
I am studying military history. I see my future as being in the Navy.
I hope that there, as an officer, in the context of NATO and the UN, I will be able to make my own contribution to peace, security and justice.

Gerry Faber
The Netherlands, 21 years

The visit to Auschwitz created for me a break in my life. Where before there was one of me, there are now two: an 'I' from before, and an 'I' from after the journey. The visit is still, from day to day, a source of memories, associated not only with pain and grief, but also with hope, friendship, love and solidarity.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz organized by the Fondation Auschwitz of Belgium in 1999.
I would like to teach history to the young people of tomorrow.
As for the future, I'm sure it's saving a few surprises for me.
Let it come!

Gill Venturelli
Belgium, 20 years

The spirits hovered there,
using our own eyes,
our own hearts for gusts of rage.
Our blood takes up this anger, spreading
its mark through the tissue of our bodies
and howls its helplessness to speak or act.
Our breasts are then not huge enough
to encompass so much suffering.
This suffering - escaping from the earth,
the walls - which hovers in the air,
which we are breathing

(fragment)


 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a mixed Polish/German group of technical and vocational students from the Bielsko-Biala school and the Volkswagen training programme.
I am a student in a Volkswagen training programme. I go through every day with my eyes wide open.

Halise Özbey
Germany, 21 years

When my fellow workers at Volkswagen asked me why I as a Turkish woman wanted to go to Auschwitz, I said: I live in Germany. I want to know about it. Later, in Auschwitz itself, I realized: compassion and remembering have no nationality. All of us felt grief.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with a student group from the University of Linz in 1994.
I am a business economist, working as a lecturer at the Institut für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte of the Johannes Kepler University in Linz.

Herta Neiss
Austria, 32 years

I see it as a personal obligation to do what was asked of us by a former inmate of the Auschwitz concentration camp, namely, not to let him and his fellow sufferers be forgotten.
This is especially important in a time when it has become casually acceptable to soften the crimes of the Third Reich. For me it is a duty to pass on the academically established facts to my students. For this reason, a visit to a concentration camp is an integral part of my course programme.


 

 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with the Dutch Auschwitz Committee in 1995.
At present I am studying for an HEAO diploma in business economy. Later I hope to make some contribution to the welfare of children, for example through working in finance management for a non-profit organisation such as Unicef.

Marieke Brouwer
The Netherlands, 21 years

I still share my experiences with others when the occasion arises. Before, I never really looked outside my own safe little life. I took for granted my loving environment, and led a carefree existence. During the journey I came to know people who had suffered immense grief, and this made a deep impression on me. I am now quicker to become concerned about the fate of others. I try to make my contribution to a 'better world'. This doesn't necessarily have to be on a large scale. You can start very close to home. We don't live alone on this world, and suffering can come to any of us.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1998 with Rosa Goldstein, a survivor, for the opening of an extension to the Youth Meeting Center.
Guadeloupe, Brittany, England, Germany. Family everywhere. Hip-Hop, the world which I represent, and especially the nights, which belong to me!

Mathieu 'DFOR' Deodat
France, 18 years

This place makes me afraid - afraid of people, afraid of politics... But we shouldn't accuse only the main actors, but also all those men and women who blindly followed them. We must denounce racism, antisemitism, injustice and oppression, wherever we encounter them on our path. The second millennium is our chance, to avoid making this same mistake.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a group of pupils from several Lycées, accompanied by the Minister of Cooperation, Charles Goerens.
It's important to me not to just look after my own interests, but to let my image of an ideal society permeate my life. Together with others, I would like to try to change things towards that ideal both in our immediate circles and our wider environment.

Melanie Noesen
Luxembourg, 17 years

The mountains of the hair, spectacles and shoes of the victims exhibited behind glass, still lead me to react with fury, to any expression of radical-right ideas. What contempt and insolence it is towards these witnesses of atrocity, when someone like the Austrian politician Haider describes members of the Waffen SS as men of integrity, praises the employment policies of the National Socialist regime, and portrays foreigners as criminal parasites!


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a mixed Polish/German group of technical and vocational students from the Bielsko-Biala school and the Volkswagen training programme.
I am studying with Volkswagen as an office communication expert. People, and their questions and problems have always interested me, and so I am at present involved in youth representation within our company.

Monika Schween
Germany, 22 years

Since I took part in the youth exchange visit to Oswiecim, my interest in this part of German history has become still greater. The prejudices we at first held against the young Poles have turned into friendships.
I hope that these will endure.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a group of pupils from several Lycées, accompanied by the Minister of Cooperation, Charles Goerens.
In my free time I play basketball, and enjoy video games.
What impressed me very much, was the testimony of the survivors, who got across to us, through their spontaneity and frankness, both their personal stories and the difficulty of the subject as a whole.

Nicolas Anen
Luxembourg, 16 years

What I admire most about them is the courage they show in returning to those accursed places where they suffered so much. At the same time, they put us on our guard against movements which base their philosophy on the exclusion of 'the other', and they show that it is possible to swim against the current. I hope I will be able to find the same courage in myself, so as to stay vigilant against any rise of the extreme Right, and if this should happen, to find within myself the strength to oppose it.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with the Dutch Auschwitz Committee in 1995.
In so far as my future can be determined by my own choices, I choose for a life in health, friendship and liberty, with the search for challenges and self-development as a central focus.

Nienke Ledegang
The Netherlands, 21 years

How do you explain something for which there are no words? Time and time again, since my visit to Auschwitz, I have had to wrestle with this question. The urge to tell and to warn is strong, but words are inadequate and clichés lurk in ambush. To remain silent or to bear witness. That choice has turned out to be harder than expected.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a mixed Polish/German group of technical and vocational students from the Bielsko-Biala school and the Volkswagen training programme.
I am training as a machinist with Volkswagen.
Italy and Germany - both countries are 'home' to me.
Of course I'm keen on cars, but love - that's for my girlfriend, and all colours.

Oliver Geremia Cioffo
Germany, 24 years

I was there.

I am hurt and angry at all those people who deny the Holocaust, or take no interest in that part of history.

Anyone's life is changed, after being in Auschwitz.

I painted a lot.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a mixed Polish/German group of technical and vocational students from the Bielsko-Biala school and the Volkswagen training programme.
I'm planning to study social rehabilitation for young people. I get the most out of life!

Pawel Wawrzuta
Poland, 20 years

It was a unique experience for us - Poles and Germans - after so many but still so few years, to in some small way pay tribute to the victims. On the Birkenau site, we cleared some paths overgrown by time and nature - bringing back to the daylight the traces of where they once walked.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a mixed Polish/German group of technical and vocational students from the Bielsko-Biala school and the Volkswagen training programme.
I want to study at technical college. I just love life.

Sabina Stec
Poland, 19 years

The war is over, but in Auschwitz the trees, the flowers and the birds beg us to remember. We clear old camp paths, and we don't just carry away earth, we also discover the people.


Visit to Auschwitz in 1999 with a mixed Polish/German group of technical and vocational students from the Bielsko-Biala school
and the Volkswagen training programme.
I plan to study at technical college.
I'm keen on horse-drawn carriages.

Tomek Laweczka
Poland, 20 years

Auschwitz was the result of, among other things, prejudice. Suddenly I was aware of the prejudices that I, myself, was carrying around.
Limiting yourself to what you already know will get you nowhere.


 

 

Visit to Auschwitz with the Fondation Auschwitz in 1997.
I am studying law at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.
I want to specialize in economic law.

Véronique Lebacq
Belgium, 20 years

When I returned from Auschwitz, I had left behind me part of a 17-year-old's freedom from care: my way of looking at humanity had matured. The inhuman savagery had certainly become more concrete for me, but it struck me above all that the tremendous courage of the men and women subjected to that savagery, is a principal requirement of life.

Participants
Austria Claudia Irrmann, Albert Kropf, Astrid Kunze,
Sonja Mittermayr, Herta Neiss, Andreas Neiss
Belgium Mikaël Dreesen, Véronique Lebacq,
Claude Remacle, Gill Venturelli
France Esther-Guylaine Abdelaziz, Mathieu 'DFOR' Deodat,
Christophe Marcheteau
Germany Oliver Geremia Cioffo, Manuela Greifzu,
Halise Özbey, Monika Schween
Luxembourg Nicolas Anen, Frenz Biver, Melanie Noesen
The Netherlands Judith Becker, Daniel Blocq, Marieke Brouwer,
Gerry Faber, Nienke Ledegang, Anke Oude Brunink
Poland Tomek Laweczka, Sabina Stec, Wojtek
Stupnicki, Pawel Wawrzuta, Elzbieta Wezner

 


Afterwards, it's just a part of you - Visits by young people to Auschwitz-Birkenau
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