On Friday, 9 August 2019 at 3 p.m., the international youth exchange WORCATION came to a ceremonial close with a memorial service at the Stalag VIII A memorial site. The participants reported on their experiences and their work during the two-week encounter. All those present commemorated the victims of the prisoner-of-war camp Stalag VIII A by laying a wreath and observing a minute’s silence.
During the two weeks together from 27.07-10.08.2019, young people aged 16 to 24 from Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Italy and France worked on the site and thus participated in the living culture of remembrance of the place. This year, the Meetingpoint took on the task of not only talking about the history of the Stalag VIIIA site, but also dealing with the topic of “flight and migration” with regard to the history of the cities of Görlitz and Zgorzelec. Thus, the history of the city of Zgorzelec after the Second World War was reviewed in a lecture. There was also an evening with Syrian food, where the team of the Cafe Hotspot and former participants from Afghanistan discussed today’s migration.
The participants of the project worked in three different workshops during the last two weeks: Theatre, Music and Archaeology. For this year’s music workshop, rap music was chosen. Together with the experienced rapper Christian Weirich, the participants wrote and rehearsed two song lyrics. These were presented to the audience during the final event. What was important was not only the way the lyrics were presented, but above all the creative process. The resulting texts were also to deal with this year’s theme, whereby the participants had a free hand in the composition of the texts.
The theatre workshop chose the biography of the Italian prisoner of war Renato Gargano as its starting point. With the words: “My name is Renato Gargano and I am not here voluntarily”, the performance began on the grounds of the memorial. This told the story of Renato Gargano during his time in the Stalag VIII A prisoner of war camp. During the workshop, workshop leader Arkadiusz Zietek had noticed that the prisoners of war in Stalag VIII A were often the same age as the participants. The big difference was only due to the voluntary nature of their presence on the grounds of Stalag VIII A.
With the archaeologist Pawel Zawadzki, the participants were able to uncover a night toilet of a barrack of the Soviet prisoners and accompany the entire archaeological process of this excavation. During the closing event, the most interesting artefacts were presented to those present and reports were given on the individual steps from the excavation to the precise documentation of the finds. This year, more than 200 artefacts were found.
The project was funded by the Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien (BKM), the Partnerschaft für Demokratie der Stadt Görlitz, the federal programme “Demokratie leben!”, the Landespräventionsrat Sachsen, the Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, the city and district of Görlitz, the city and district office of Zgorzelec.
We would like to thank all the sponsors of the Worcation2019 project: Görlitzer Brotschmiede, Bäckerei Tschirch, Little John Bikes and our partners: European Centre for Remembrance, Education and Culture and the City of Amiens.