Educational trip to the memorial site of the former concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau
The site of the former Auschwitz concentration and extermination camp has become the central symbol of the Holocaust. For many people, a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial outside the city of Oświęcim initiates a more intensive study of the history of National Socialism. Many fans with an interest in our projects express their desire to see the remnants of camp as well as the memorial exhibitions.
Prior to every group visit, participants get to know each other and establish a common framework for the trip. A look at biographies of members of Dortmund’s Jewish community personalises the history of local persecution. The often abstract idea of the Holocaust becomes more tangible through the connection with names of streets and places that are familiar to the fans.
Throughout the visit, we attempt to introduce the participants to historical places gradually. We also include lesser known and almost unknown places of the Auschwitz history as well as underrepresented aspects in the programme. Spending several days on site is a fundamental part of our projects. The “International Youth Meeting Centre” (IJBS) in Oświęcim has been our partner and first port of call for many years.
Every excursion begins with a tour of the city of Oświęcim and a visit to the “Auschwitz Jewish Centre”. This part of the programme includes an introduction which covers prewar Jewish culture and the persecution suffered by the local Jewish population of Oświęcim, followed by a look at the development of the occupied and renamed city of Auschwitz as a German settlement project – all of which is vital for the camp’s history to be properly explained and understood.
On the following days, participants visit the memorial sites at Auschwitz I (main camp) and Auschwitz II (Birkenau). Workshops with historical photos, site plans and biographical testimonies prepare the participants for the tour of the actual historical sites. Evening reflection sessions and an evaluation of the activities bring each day to a close.
A look at the living quarters of the German perpetrators, followed by a visit to the grounds of the former Auschwitz III-Monowitz camp, draws attention to places that are not part of the official memorial site, but enrich the understanding of the scale of the Auschwitz camp complex.
The present-day village of Monowice is also linked to Dortmund’s local history. In March 1943, the Frankenthal family was deported to Auschwitz. Upon their arrival, the two sons Hans and Ernst were selected to work at the IG Farben construction site and were brought to Auschwitz-Monowitz. Both survived the Holocaust. The biography of Hans Frankenthal, entitled “Verweigerte Rückkehr” (Refused Return), provides a thematic framework for our educational work on site.
In the EU pilot project, we have made the educational trip inclusive for the first time. We took 5 deaf participants with us. Altogether 35 people aged 18 to 66 went to Oswiecim with us. Besides the Participants, the organization team and one historian, there were 2 sign language interpreters, a contributor for inclusion in football, two team members of the CtC project and a photographer taking part in this project.
A special feature about the trip was a three lingual approach with German, English and sign language to be spoken. The overcoming of respective boundaries and a strong group-building process led to emotional group experience and reinforced the collective learning process.
Fifteen Supporter Liason Officers (SLO) from all over Germany met in Dortmund. This pilot was intended to initiate an exchange of experiences and knowledge on the subject of anti-semitic incidents in German stadiums. The day’s aim was also to work on an overview of existing in German football clubs. After discussing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, risks of the different approaches, the participants, in a second step, looked at international projects and approaches and discussed them against the background of the results of the first workshop phase.
As the discussion of anti-semitic incidents in German stadiums showed, it seems that meanwhile many of the German fan scenes were very sensitized which the participants in the discussion also attributed to the various activities of different clubs and a progressive debate within various fan scenes. Antisemitism has become more hidden and often it tends to come to the surface only in closed spaces.
Instead of stadium incidents it is therefore much more interesting to look at the arrival and departure routes, places where fans meet before and after the game and social media.
The Supporters Liason Officers agreed that the CtC project should not only be understood as a reaction to a problem but rather that football clubs, as social actors, must provide a social contribution. In concrete terms, this means that projects against antisemitism will remain an increasingly important part of the German football league. It does not need scandalized anti-semitic incidents to justify this work.
The Supporters Liason Officers have discussed a lot about why German clubs do not work with right-wing groups of people. German football clubs are aware that the aim is to strengthen, network and support the positive forces in the fan scenes.
All in all, the day was very beneficial for all participants for the several reasons. It was the first time that a methodologically prepared exchange on this topic was held in German football. The similarities and differences were addressed and the different approaches in Germany were discussed.