On the occasion of the annual meeting of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Advisory Board, the representatives of the umbrella organization of the national associations of former prisoners of the Neuengamme concentration camp, Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme (AIN), came together to discuss the cooperation between the associations and the memorial at their annual congress which took place on November 11-13 in Hamburg.
First, they paid their respects to Janusz Kahl, the vice president and a former Polish prisoner who died on November 2. Ever since the former president and a Belgian survivor Victor Malbecq died last year, the responsibility for the future work has lain with children and grandchildren of the former prisoners. On November 13, during the central commemorative event organized by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg on the occasion of Volkstrauertag (National Day of Mourning), Jean-Michel Gaussot, the president of AIN, whose father died in the Wöbbelin satellite camp in April 1945, gave a memorable speech in which he remembered his father’s fate and invited everyone to fight the current racist and extremist tendencies with determination of „peace-loving fighters of remembrance“. Carola Veit, the president of the Hamburg Parliament, pointed out the fact that democracy is being threatened by the strengthening of right-wing movements all over the world.
The president, Jean-Michel Gaussot and the secretary general of AIN, Christine Eckel, talked to the presidents and representatives of the associations of former prisoners from France (Jean-Michel Clère), Belgium (Mark Van den Driessche), Netherlands (Martine Letterie and Shie On Bavelaar), Denmark (Helle Vibeke Sørensen) and Germany (Thomas Käpernick). Together with the director of the Memorial, they discussed future projects, including the forum „Future of Remembrance“, which will take place again next year (May 1-2, 2017) as well as the online platform “Reflections on Family History Affected by Nazi Crimes“ initiated by the relatives of the former prisoners .
This project is an attempt to bring together the relatives of the victims of persecution and to take their needs and wishes into consideration when it comes to the direction memorials are to take in the future. At the forum “Future of Remembrance“, the children and grandchildren of the former prisoners have the opportunity to talk to the staff of the memorial as well as with other participants about in which form the survivors‘ legacies should live on and how the cooperation between memorials and the relatives of the victims of persecution can be expanded. Another important aspect of the project is the discussion on possible measures against anti-democratic and racist sentiment and activities nowadays. The dialogue platform “Reflections on Family History Affected by Nazi Crimes“ offers a forum for the relatives of the former prisoners to present the effect the persecution of their family members has had on their own lives, publicly document their concerns and requests as well as stress the importance of remembering Nazi crimes today.
Jean-Michel Gaussot's speech in German and French: