La Palabra Israelita: El Gedenkdienst cumple siete años en Chile

El Gedenkdienst cumple siete años en Chile, in: La Palabra Israelita, Viernes 26 de mayo de 2017, S. 12.

Seit sieben Jahren entsendet der Verein GEDENKDIENST junge und engagierte Menschen in das Altersheim Hogar Beit Israel in Santiago de Chile. Dort verbringen u.a.  (ehemalige) Österreicherinnen und Österreicher, die während des NS-Regime ihre Heimat verlassen mussten und ins Exil nach Südamerika gegangen sind, ihren Lebensabend.

Laurenz Rogi, derzeitiger Gedenkdienstleistender, berichtet, aus welchen Beweggründen er sich für Gedenkdienst entschieden und welche Erfahrungen bei einer Arbeit gemacht hat. Fernando Ramos betreut seit sieben Jahren die Gedenkdienstleistenden während ihres Jahres im Altersheim und hebt die Wichtigkeit von GEDENKDIENST hervor.

Englische Übersetzung von Joaquin de Otaola:

Promoting the memory of the Holocaust:

The Gedenkdienst makes seven years in Chile[1]

This organisation of Austrian volunteers works for the reparation, sending young volunteers to different countries. The Hogar[2] Beit Israel has been the counterpart in this program, with positive results.

The Gedenkdienst (Memorial Service) is an Austrian organisation, politically independent and non-confessional that deals with the causes and consequences of Nazism and its crimes. Since 1992 it sends young volunteers to countries where the Nazis and their helpers committed crimes or where still today victims of the Holocaust live. In an external service year the volunteers work with young people in educational areas, with seniors or in archives and museums.

Currently the program maintains regular activities in cities such as Akko, Amsterdam, Auschwitz, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Berlin- Casa Anne Frank, Berlin- Casa Wannsee, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem, Kreta/Chania, London, Lublin – Museo Majdanek, Monte Sole, New York, Oranienburg, Praga, Ravensbrück, Santiago de Chile, Tel Aviv, Theresienstadt, Vilnius, Washington.

The voluntary program of Gedenkdienst in Chile initiated in 2010 through and agreement with the Hogar Beit Israel, where the young Austrians undertake several support tasks. Until today, the following have come: Lukas Sottner, Tirol (2010-2011), Nicolás Pindeus, Viena (2011-2012), Alexander Cortolezis, Viena (2012-2013), Philipp Bohatschek, Viena (2013-2014), Johannes Barton, Viena (2014-2015), Clemens Reisenbichler, Ebensee, Alta Austria (2015-2016) and currently Laurenz Rogi, Viena (2016-2017).

Precisely with Laurenz Rogi we intend to broaden the information about this program:

“In Austria, if not in Europe, in the whole world, a strong shift to the right can be observed. These are times in which one has to remember the history, the atrocious things that happened and the responsibility that each of us have to avoid that the most obscure chapters of our past repeat. Me and many other young Austrians accept this responsibility and work against forgetfulness. The Gedenkdienst makes a big part of that. It is an organisation integrated entirely by volunteers. Apart from the memorial service abroad they do many seminars, workshops and events in Austria educating people for, although one would prefer not to believe it, many people know little or nothing about the past”, he assures.

-¿How did you hear about this organisation and why did you prefer this voluntary service instead of the military service?

I am a pacifist and I cannot imagine myself handling with weapons or in a war situation and I also do not see how it contributes to society that I waste a year in a military field. As I searched for an interesting social service I found the Gedenkdienst option. It immediately drew my attention as something interesting, enriching and meaningful for me and for the society.

-What would happen if it looses governmental support?

Without the little support that we receive from the Austrian government the service could not take place. I had to save a lot, I had to ask for money to my grandparents, aunts and uncles and to my parents, who make the greater contribution. Nowadays the government wants to reduce the subsidy even more, which would mean for many that they would not be able to make the service.

-How was your experience at the Hogar Beit Israel and how have the seniors received you?

– Since I came, I felt at home at the Hogar Beit Israel. They received me with open arms, a great deal of patience and lots of affection. The work here is very interesting, I receive a lot from the people, many share their experiences with me and I also have the feeling that I can give and do something in return.

Positive effect

In the Hogar Beit Israel, Fernando Ramos has been the person in charge of receiving and orienting the work of the Austrian volunteers, who are formally under the supervision and direction of the occupational therapy department.

I think it would be a mistake and a great loss for the Austrian government to stop supporting programs such as Gedenkdienst or other similar that exist there. Maybe the government does not realize the genuine role that they play, they do not only make a social service in the places where they go, but they also became true ambassadors of their country that transmit to the young people with which they interact their values and ideals of justice, tolerance and equality. They also help to convey the idea that one must learn from past errors so as not to go back.

Erica Kurz

“This uncontaminated young people have been a blessing, both for us senior adults from the Hogar as for them for the rest of their lives.“

Ruth Polajewer

“This program is very good for us because the young people bring us joys, they bring us novelties, they help us as much as they can and they become great friends with everybody.”

Liliana Altschuler

“They help me a lot, particularly when I have problems with my pension they immediately communicate with Germany by telephone and solve my problem.”

Saul Treizman

“Although it may be a drop of water in the ocean, I hope that day by day it builds up a new relation among young people, the Chilean Jews and them.”

Roberto Roizman

“I feel that we have to erase the vestiges of the past, it is already the time to overcome it, this is a new generation that was not involved in the Nazi genocide.”

Magdalena Faludi

“It is not only them who have to work, we have also to do our part; apart from that, they are very intelligent young people, very well-educated and loving.”

[1] It could also be translated as “Seventh birthday of Gedenkdienst in Chile”.

[2] “Hogar” means “home”, bit here is used as part of the name of the inistitution.