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Press Release

Wolfsburg, 24 January 2018

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018: Volkswagen apprentices commemorate suffering, murder and survival in Auschwitz

  • German Resistance Memorial Center, Berlin: opening of the exhibition "Auschwitz – a clear trace"
  • Hallenbad Cultural Center, Wolfsburg: literary evening with dramatized premiere reading "Ein Stück Wiese am Wald"
  • Volkswagen plant Wolfsburg: wreath-laying to commemorate the victims of National Socialism
  • German Bundestag: youth encounter and memorial ceremony commemorating 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz

Apprentice Patricia Harms (20) at the opening of the exhibition "Auschwitz – a clear trace" Apprentice Patricia Harms (20) at the opening of the exhibition "Auschwitz – a clear trace"

Over the next few days, the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC) and apprentices from Volkswagen are commemorating the victims of National Socialism at remembrance events. The young people from Wolfsburg and Hanover took part in care and preservation work at the concentration camp memorial site near the Polish town of Oświęcim last year. At events in Berlin, Munich and Wolfsburg , the young women and men are reporting on what they learnt from eyewitnesses about suffering, murder and survival at the former Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The occasion is the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on which the world remembers the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army on January 27, 1945 and commemorates the victims of dictatorship and racial hatred.

Beginning in Berlin: opening of exhibition "Auschwitz – a clear trace"

At the start of the worldwide commemoration events, yesterday evening in Berlin, the Vice President of the German Bundestag, Thomas Oppermann, opened the exhibition "Auschwitz – a clear trace" of the International Auschwitz Committee. Patricia Harms, apprentice specialist in office management with Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, spoke at the opening ceremony in the German Resistance Memorial Center. The 20-year-old described her impressions from work at the memorial site: "Auschwitz is a place where I learned to see things in a new light. Things I had simply taken for granted, such as my family, home, food, shoes, clothing, health and freedom, have become much more important for me since last summer.

On room-high photo panels in the exhibition "Auschwitz – a clear trace", survivors of the camp and young visitors, apprentices from Volkswagen in Germany and vocational school students from Bielsko-Bieła in Poland, report on their meetings and experiences in Auschwitz. They also indicate their hopes, questions and expectations. The exhibition will be open daily until March 30 during the opening hours of the German Resistance Memorial Center at Stauffenbergstraße 13-14 in Berlin. There is no admission charge.

Premiere: dramatized reading "Ein Stück Wiese am Wald"

The city of Wolfsburg and the IAC are holding a literary remembrance evening at the cultural center "Hallenbad – Kultur am Schachtweg" on January 25 (admission: 6:30 p.m.). The event will focus on the dramatized reading "Ein Stück Wiese am Wald" by IAC Vice President Christoph Heubner from Berlin.

The evening program is being presented by Tanzendes Theater as well as school students from Wolfsburg. Volkswagen apprentices will provide information on 30 years of memorial site work at Auschwitz.

Wreath-laying by Volkswagen on the memorial stone

on Saturday, January 27, 2018 (12 noon), Volkswagen is laying a commemorative wreath on the memorial stone in Wolfsburg (Südstraße, entrance 2) in remembrance of the victims of National Socialism. Plant manager Dr. Stefan Loth and other representatives of the company, the Works Council and the Young People's and Apprentices Representative Committee will attend the wreath-laying. Following the ceremony, the documentary "This is not a game" concerning the survival of Sally Perel

("I was Hitler Youth Solomon") will be shown. Everyone who would like to attend the event (minimum age: 12 years) is requested to register by email to history@volkswagen.de with their forename and surname by January 25. Visitors can reach the event via the Sandkamp entrance to the plant.  

International youth encounter of the German Bundestag

At the invitation of the President of the German Bundestag, Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble, and the International Auschwitz Committee, five apprentices from Volkswagen are taking part in the international youth encounter from January 27 to 31, 2018: Deniz Karabulut (21), automotive mechatronics technician from Hanover, and, from Wolfsburg: Alina Haase (20), industrial clerk, Lea Krawehl (20), process technician specializing in plastics and rubber engineering, Annegret Lücke (22), specialist in haulage and logistics services, and Alexander Siems (19), industrial mechanic.  

"Resistance for reasons of conscience" is the central topic of the youth encounter. A total of 80 participants aged between 17 and 24 will visit sites such as the DenkStätte Weiße Rose at Munich Ludwig Maximilians University and the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site. The young women and men will discuss "resistance and moral courage – then and now" on the basis of biographies such as those of Hans and Sophie Scholl, Georg Elser and Father Korbinian Aigner.

As the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz is on a Saturday, the German Bundestag will be commemorating the victims of National Socialism on Wednesday, January 31. The five apprentices from Volkswagen will also be attending the Ceremony of Remembrance in the Plenary Chamber following the youth encounter.

Memorial Site work at Auschwitz and international youth meetings at Oświęcim (Poland) -  A joint project of the International Auschwitz Committee and Volkswagen

Apprentices from the Volkswagen Group and Polish vocational school students have played a key role in work on the Memorial Site from the outset. The initiative that started in December 1987 with a seminar for apprentices from Wolfsburg in Auschwitz has since brought more than 3,000 young Germans and Poles to the Youth Meeting Center in Oświęcim (Poland). Together, the young women and men from the two countries help to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial Site. They clear weeds from pathways, repair barbed wire fences, preserve the shoes of the victims and talk to eyewitnesses who survived Auschwitz concentration camp and Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The Memorial Site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Work on the Memorial Site and the youth meetings in Oświęcim / Auschwitz are a joint project of Volkswagen and the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC), initiated by the Works Council and supported by the company. Since 2008, more than 450 master craftsmen and craftswomen as well as other managers from the Group have also taken part. The program includes meetings with contemporary witnesses and survivors of the Holocaust and the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz. The IAC provides support for these meetings and study visits. They are a firm component of Volkswagen's corporate culture of remembrance that is supported equally strongly by employee representative bodies and management.

The International Auschwitz Committee (IAC) was founded in 1952 by survivors to ensure that Auschwitz would not be forgotten. The committee includes organizations, foundations and Holocaust survivors from 19 countries. Information on the committee is available in English, French, German and Polish at www.auschwitz.info.



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