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Conversations with School Classes in 2008

School students in conversation with a contemporary witness, 2008'© Eva & Artur Holling
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School students in conversation with a contemporary witness, 2008
© Eva & Artur Holling

On the sidelines of the opening of the Norbert Wollheim Memorial in November 2008, 19 school classes and groups of university students, around 460 young people in total, had a chance to speak with survivors of the Buna/Monowitz concentration camp and hear their stories of survival.


Volunteer moderators had paid visits to the classes in advance, provided introductory information, and helped in the preparation of questions for the conversation. Most of the guests had a profound longing for contact with youth and for an opportunity to tell them about their period of suffering, and almost all the survivors in attendance were willing to talk with the school students. For the students, meeting a survivor offered an opportunity to form a vivid image of the conditions in Nazi concentration and extermination camps through the eyewitness account of someone who had been there.


Again, the prior experiences of the survivors with talking to school classes were reflected in the mode of presentation: Some had brought along transparencies for the overhead projector or film clips, and others had copied documents and photographs. Experienced narrators had a story already tailored for the student audience, while others hunted for words or preferred to answer questions. For the participants, the encounter was an extraordinary experience in each and every case.


The Wollheim Memorial was designed in an effort to preserve the stories of survivors and keep them available for future generations. The presentation of video interviews on this page stems from that concern.

(SP; transl. KL)