Dienstag, August 02, 2011

outsidegroup II - Außengruppe II

Monday: the last ‘practical’ workshop of the camp. We all knew this was so, and of course there was a element of sadness and nostalgia. However, we knew we had a job to do, and got to it with a good attitude. As most of the camp stayed back at the Anne Frank House, the outside group went to the area of Bergen Belsen, just outside the army base. Here we split up into two, those who would do maintenance, and those who would paint quotations on the line. We began our preparation on Sunday afternoon, in the theory side of the workshop, choosing quotes that struck us, but also playing a game here and there involving ping pong balls. Matti led the maintenance group, clearing up and restoring the integrity of the project already constructed in the previous year. This project was made in a forested area with wood signs that have a name and a date written on it. Each sign was placed on various trees representing the journey of the lost trains. Really good representation in my opinion, but to be honest, the maintenance of the area needed serious work. So Matti took his volunteers to do that as the rest of us under the “supervision” of Dean went to paint our chosen quotes on the line. We chose “More than half a century ago. For you it’s history; for me, its yesterday.” (Maria S), and “To forget is a betrayal” (insert name here). Whenever doing quotes we painted them in English, German and Dutch – trying to make it readable for anyone who happened to passed. We had bikes, kids on bikes, men with prams (who unfortunately rode through our quote), and of course  the distraction of being young people over the rode to the entrance of the biggest army base in Europe. Of course we were going to get distracted. This included occasional conversations with the people entering, soldiers, tanks… Nevertheless with all these distractions we managed to get the quotes done.  
The other group was working in the forest at ‘Am Spargelfeld’. Here we have a little square in the forest were there are a few plates hanging on which are the names of the different train station the 3rd lost train went through. The place was a bit overgrown and therefore the task was to cut the trees, the plants and the grass that was in our way. This group was led by Matti and Suhebe, Narin, Tatjana and Nelli helped him. We worked hard to cut all the plants down, so that an overview was the result. The goal of this overview is to show to visitors, the history of the lost trains. The overview is important, because than one can see all the stations at the same time. The result of our hard work was really gorgeous. We did a big job and the overview is as clear as it can be.

For me these quotes encompassed the camp’s purpose. During the interview with the eye witness, I got the opportunity to ask a few questions – she recalled her experiences, all of which were impressive. But the main thing that struck me was her answer to my question about how she moved on mentally after the war, she answered close to the words of “I can’t forget, when I’m back here, I feel as though it is yesterday.” This really hit me. So much indifference seems to be stemmed from the difference in age or culture, as if it makes it un-relatable. For me is was amazing to look around the camp and imagine the people being there, the surroundings and suffering I would view if I was to be plucked out of time here and put back there 60 or so years ago. But to hear her say what she did encompassed what I’ve learnt on the camp – how history isn’t about facts and figures. 

Something great about the people on the camp is that even though it is such a heavy subject, we still manage to instill our humour and fun about it all. We made arguably inappropriate jokes, “accidentally” got paint on one another (resulting in kitchen duty for the offender) or flirting with military guys, the lightheartedness and positive attitude of the participants made it an enjoyable experience for this writer.