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ITS supports “Youth for Dora” project “Survivors prospect the future”

The International Tracing Service (ITS) of Bad Arolsen has assumed the role as a cooperative partner for the project “Survivors prospect the future” initiated by the “Youth for Dora” (Jugend für Dora) association. The project’s objective is to facilitate the involvement of the survivors of Nazi persecution in the discussion about future commemorative work. Six young people from Leipzig who work on the project visited Bad Arolsen for a three-day research stay. “We are happy to offer them support with their research endeavours,” said ITS historian Susanne Urban. “Survivors’ voices must continue to be heard.”

In a few years from now, there will be no more surviving witnesses to Nazi crimes who can personally report on their experiences at memorial services and anniversary ceremonies. “The culture of remembrance is on the brink of transition,” said Urban. Since July 2009, around 20 young people from “Survivors prospect the future” project therefore hold three-day long interviews with survivors from a wide variety of countries. Their personal memories as well as visions for the future remembrance of Nazi crimes and the mass murder of millions of European Jews are recorded on video during these talks. “With this project, we’re actively involving the expectations, ideas and wishes of the surviving witnesses in the actual debate on the future of commemorative work,” as 27-year-old history student Martin Winter of Leipzig explained. “Each and every encounter with survivors is a special experience we can gain a lot from.”

The six representative from “Jugend für Dora” took the opportunity to get acquainted with the organisation of the ITS archives for three days. Over the next few weeks, they want to research the biographical data of some victims. “The large number of documents in the ITS archives is both impressive and shocking. Individual fates become tangible here in a very personal manner. Handling this data with respect is very important in my opinion,” said the 29-year-old translator Kathy Proschaska of Leipzig. In addition to serving as a mentor for their research efforts, ITS historian Urban is also offering the young people the possibility of attending workshops such as the one currently being held on the culture of remembrance in Israel.

The insights gained through the project are to be presented next year at an interactive online platform. A printed brochure is also planned. The project is funded with resources from the foundation “Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft” (remembrance, responsibility and future) within the scope of the project “Paths of Remembrance” by the history workshop Europe. Other cooperation partners include the Mittelbau-Dora memorial site, the International School for Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem and the “Stiftung West-Östliche Begegnungen“ (Foundation for encounter between East and West).

About the “Jugend für Dora” Association

Former prisoners of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp initiated the founding of “Jugend für Dora” in 1995. The survivors’ primary interest behind this endeavour was that younger generations continue to bear their remembrance. In different projects and workshops, the students deal actively with the history of the former concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora. Work on the “Survivors prospect the future” project began in early 2009 when initial preparations were made; preliminary findings are set to be presented at the start of next year. More information on the association can be found at zukunftderzeitzeugen.blogsport.de/verein/.

About the International Tracing Service

The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen serves the victims of Nazi persecution and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages. ITS preserves these historic records and makes them available for research.

ITS is presided over by the eleven states of its International Commission (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Poland, Great Britain, USA). Its legal basis is stipulated by the Bonn Agreements of 1955 and the amendment protocol from 2006. By order of the commission, ITS is directed by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).