Oral history Germany

Objectives of the activity

Anti-Semitism, anti-gypsyism, racism, discrimination and exclusion of certain groups – even more than 77 years after the end of the reign of terror of National Socialism (NS), they are part of everyday life in Germany and Europe and shape social debates. Nationalist and populist movements are gaining strength – not only in Hungary and Poland, but also in Italy, France, Sweden and, of course, here in Germany. How could this happen and what can we as individuals or initiatives do about it? What can be done at local, national, but also European level to strengthen democracy, togetherness and tolerance? In our oral history workshop, we wanted to deal with these questions to remember, learn and act:

REMEMBER: Learning from the past: We listen to the stories of victims of National Socialism, wars and exclusions in order to recognise what happened there in detail and what encouraged such terrible developments.

LEARN: From the personal stories we want to learn: How does such a system of exclusion, hatred and nationalism develop? What does it promote, but what can and has it also prevented? Where can we find good approaches in our community, in our country, but also in Europe, to promote peace, tolerance, togetherness and democracy again? What good examples does the Erasmus project „WakeUP!“, which GLL developed with organizations from 8 countries, give?

ACT: What are we going to do concretely in the future? How do we counter intolerance, discrimination and exclusion when we encounter them in everyday life? What projects and actions can we start and implement ourselves? What opportunities are offered by the current project „Remember to act“ in exchange with young people from Georgia and Azerbaijan? Where can I participate or get something going myself?


Descriptions of the activity

Before the workshop, we sent a list of videos of holocaust survivors, eye witnessen and people who experienced any kind of discrimination. Each participant listened to one personal story and examined it in more detail using a questionnaire.

We started with a short introduction of the „Remember to act“ project. The workshop  was divided into three parts:


  1. REMEMBER: Culture of Remembrance

We hat a short discussion about why is it important to remember, the power of personal stories and what we can learn from the past. The participants shared their personal stories and experiences with remembrance culture.

  1. LEARN – What happened?

In small groups we collected information from the videos the participants watched. We answered the following questions: How do anti-Semitism, anti-gypsyism, racism, discrimination, exclusion, hatred and wars develop? What happened in the lives of the people presented? What did other people around them do to cause such things? After the group work, we collected all information together: Where were there efforts to change the situation positively? What made the people’s situation worse? What might have made it bearable or improved it?

  1. ACT

Based on the results of Part 1 collected in the morning, the participants are divided into small groups and are asked to plan ideas and, ideally, concrete actions together on how to counteract such developments. Projects of one’s own organization can also be briefly presented in the small groups: maybe one or two ideas can be copied


Quote of an involved young person

“We discussed about different patterns happening in situations where one group was discriminated. One of the most important lessons learnt was that it is important to realise in such situations what is right and what is wrong and behave accordingly. We are all humans and having a pinch more of solidarity towards one antoher is important to learn, more empathy and less hatred” – Alessandra, volunteer and participant

Quote of an involved staff member

“The workshop didn’t feel like a history class in school. Of course, historical dates and fact are important aspects. But personal stories connect those facts to our everyday life. They provide a human perspective on historical events.“ – Larissa, involved staff member