08/30/2018 Report

Report of the International Summer Camp at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial

Last Saturday commenced the yearly “Workcamp” of the Service Civil International in the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. The concept began in the 1980s for participants from around the world to come to the memorial for two weeks and live on-site, create contacts, learn, converse over history and remembrance culture, and assist the memorial. This year’s summer camp was themed “Preparing an Exhibition.”

22 volunteers from Azerbaijan, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, the Ukraine, and Vietnam came to the memorial site in the last weeks of August. The work centered around the SS air raid bunkers of the former concentration camp site. Their goal was to document and secure the bunkers while setting up a small exhibition on the murderous use of concentration camp prisoners during and after air raids by the SS. The work and documentation of the summer camp participants will also be used in blog articles and local media. The group then participated in a commemoration ceremony at the former satellite camp of Wandsbek, where they made a short speech.

The Workcamp group was filled with incredible volunteers, including Milya, a 27-year-old who travelled from Russia to attend the summer camp. She wanted to study the role of women in the Neuengamme concentration camp, where, like in so many other former concentration camps, there stood a camp brothel where women were forced into prostitution. Guadalybe, from Portugal, is 19 and fascinated by history, and particularly intrigued by the history of national socialism. Especially against the background of current world events, she hopes her work will help us all learn from the past. Pol is 20 and from Barcelona. He wanted to work with the general history of World War II, to learn exactly what the crimes were and how they could have ever occurred. It was also important for him to work with this history concretely and support the memorial site in its remembrance work.