So since March 2021 I am doing a long-term volunteering service in SCI-Germany as a Placement Officer, notwithstanding the COVID-19 outbreak and the lockdown. All my volunteer experience ought to be saturated and unforgettable looking back at the previous experiences of other volunteers. Instead the current situation dictated its own rules.
A lot of prominent SCI workcamps were cancelled, some were changed into digital formats and I was pretty lucky to be the participant of one of them, DE-SCI 1.51 (International ) Study- and Workcamp in the Mittelbau-Dora and Buchenwald concentration camp memorial sites.
First part of the camp took place in Mittelbau-Dora Memorial from the 20th of September till 26th of September. For me the topic was new and not that easy to discuss or reflect due to sensitivity of every participant and me personally. We just started as a small community to learn each other and from each other while doing small biography projects, making guided visits to former KZ premises with our teacher or doing some manual work to preserve the historically important places at the memorial taking part in the barrack-labelling project of recent years. We marked the remaining traces in the area and the ground plans of former buildings to make them visible.
During this part of the camp we were given bikes to get from the place of our living in a hostel to the study and workplace in Mittelbau-Dora Memorial. The way to and back was not long but I enjoyed it as in the air you could already feel the smell of warm autumn and see the color palette of the tree leaves. Rather intensive days were combined with smooth evenings together with the group barbequing, playing table games, slacklining and walking around the city during free time. This helped quite a lot to digest what I got from the study part or to switch over to a more light topic to talk with others.
After visiting Topf and Sons museum in Erfurt on the 27th of September, around the delicious lunch table we shared the experience we gained and our thoughts. Next week our camp was going to take place in Buchenwald Memorial, from the 27th of September till 3rd of October, where we were also supposed to live on its territory. We were shown the accommodation and the study place. The first days there were a lot of input concerning different historical places we visited and the discussions we made afterwards. Also, for three days we were working on the former railway to mark the "Buchenwald Railway Memorial Path". We produced memorial stones here that commemorate children and young people who were deported to Auschwitz and murdered there.
The most enjoyable and relaxing time, of course, was leisure time which was full of yoga sessions, cosy evenings together watching documentary, nice time in Weimar. Here I also woke up early in the morning and had a stroll to the place to see the sunrise which was in complete silence and for me it was a way of expressing respect to inmates whose lives were taken from them or died here. As a highlight at the end of the second part of the camp, I would like to single out one evening in Weimar at a jam session in one bar where anyone could be a part of it and join with their piece of creative music or singing and to sound like one unit which was incredibly amazing.
All in all, my first experience proved to have a wide spectrum of experience, emotions, information, participation, a spectacular camp coordinator and teachers and a supportively friendly group. I definitely advise to volunteer in a workcamp espesially in SCI Germany!