German-Czech Youth Meeting 2019 in Berlin

We, 10 students from Ms Baumann`s bilingual history class, were part of an international youth meeting with ten other students from a Czech school from June 17th until June 22nd. The exchange was part of a program organized by the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre in Schöneweide, Berlin.

After quite a pleasant and uneventful journey to Berlin on Monday, we had some time to check in into our hostel in Kreuzberg and then explored the city for a while. This was followed by a first meeting with the Czech students and a joint dinner. Most of us got along right away, which made working with each other for the rest of the week an even greater experience.

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From Tuesday till Friday we went to the Documentation Centre by bus every morning and worked there until about six o`clock in the evening. The whole topic of the meeting was “forced labour in in Nazi Germany“ focusing on the Czech forced labourers, so we had different workshops regarding the lives of people back then and the places that were once scenes of forced labour. The program was very diverse, so instead of just working with posters and presentations we also had a guided tour through one of the exhibitions at the Documentation Centre, an excursion to Biesenthal and multiple conversations with contemporary witnesses. The latter was the highlight of the week for many of us and for sure the experience that left the deepest impression.

The week ended on Friday with an evaluation of the meeting and some free time in the afternoon. After one last dinner with everyone in the evening, it was then finally time to say goodbye and catch the train back home on Saturday.

This youth meeting was an extremely valuable and interesting experience, because it gave all of us the opportunity to not only dig deeper into a topic that is barely touched on in history class, but also to connect with people from another country and get a deeper understanding of their lives and history. It's something we're grateful for and will never forget.

Anouk Hein, Enya Plautz