"Towards Diversity" is a Youth Exchange between Germany, Poland and Georgia and has put together 30 participants under the topic of diversity by learning from the past, reflecting on the present and designing the future. Non-formal education is, of course, the core of the project alongside with intercultural learning. Through reflection and interaction, we tried to answer questions such as:
- How did/does history influence our lives, countries and families?
- What do we know about diversity in relation to our home country and Europe in general?
- How does collective memory influence our identity?
- Where do we see concepts like "inclusion" and "diversity" expressed today?
- What are our interests and dreams?
- How does the society we live in influence our thoughts and actions?
As I mentioned before, the youth exchange took place in Berlin, Germany. Of course, we had the chance to spend time in the town and discover it, and the organizers made sure to make an unforgettable and educational challenge out of it! In this report I want to tell you about our first exploration day which was focused on three of the most important memorials located in heart of Berlin: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism and the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism.
Our task was to visit all three memorials and in-depth investigate one of them. Me and my team had as a task the discovery of the Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under Nazism. After we visited it and discussed it in our small group, we had to STOP and TALK TO OTHER VISITORS about it, ask them some questions and create a report. The main question for which we had to obtain answers was: "What is your impression and thoughts about this Memorial?" Here are 10 of the answers received:
- Compact. It does not make me think about homosexuals at all.
- I like it but I do not understand it.
- I do not really like it.
- It doesn't say anything (to me).
- It seems like they (the homosexuals) were not good enough to be across the street with the other (reference to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe which was situated very close).
- It's good.
- Interesting but I don't know what it is about.
- It's sad, but it's good that it exists.
- It makes me think about the rights we have to earn and fight for.
- Minimalist, but pretty good.
In the pictures attached to this article, you can find out how this Memorial looks if you're not familiar with it. In December 2003, the Bundestag approved the erection of a memorial in Berlin at the boundary of Tiergarten (near the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe). 5 years later, the Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism was opened (27 May 2008). The Memorial is represented by a 4 meter tall concrete cuboid with a window through which visitors can see a short film of two kissing men. It is important to mention that gay victims of Nazism were not officially recognized in the immediate aftermath of the Third Reich and, in the 1980s, these "forgotten victims" were finally discussed. In 1985, for instance, President Richard von Weizsäcker remembered homosexuals as a "victim group".
The thoughts expressed by the other visitors surprised us and at the same time.. not really because we've had similar thoughts also. Also, we noticed that more than half of the visitors had arrived at the Memorial by mistake, not knowing of its existence. Later on, doing some research on the topic, we noticed that these ideas were widely spread, for example: the late moment of its appearance in Berlin, the discrepancy of size between the memorials, the unexpected shape of it, the bad positioning in the city alongside with other controversies. We recommend you to read the visitors' reviews on Trip Advisor and Google Maps for finding out what other people think.
Have YOU been there? What were your first thoughts?
And if not, now knowing about it, what do you expect to see and feel?
If you are interested in this topic and would like to connect with the organizers or the participants, feel free to contact us anytime:
- Germany: Solidarität e. V. - Mikhail Zhukov: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Germany: Solidarität e. V. - Irina Dolbonosova: email@example.com
- Poland: Foundation CampoSfera - Jakub Kubiec: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Georgia: NGO Gergart - Levan Khutsishvili: email@example.com
- Participant (for team Germany) - Alexandra-Ioana Simon: firstname.lastname@example.org
The project is supported by EUROPEANS FOR PEACE programme of the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union.
Photo sources: Alexandra-Ioana Simon, Viktoriia Popova, Barbara Biskup.