Joachim König

Pedagogical department, Memorial of Buchenwald

  • My organization:
    I am working in the pedagogical departement of the Memorial of Buchenwald. The Memorial is a place of memory, commemoration but as well a place of historical and political education. Visitors of the Memorial can study the history of the concentration camp of Buchenwald (1937-45), the period of the soviet Special Camp No. 2 after 1945 and aspects of memorialization, as the history of the Buchenwald Monument in GDR-times.

  • Examples of concrete activities I have organized/am organizing in the field of “dealing with the past”:
    • In cooperation with the Memorial ‘House of the Wannsee Conference’, the french ‘Maisond ’Izieu’ and french, german and polish universities we organized two study-tours, in France Germany, and Poland, to Memorials and historical places of WWII. Discvoering evolution and changes of memories in the different places and countries, to examine the role of politics, to find out the pedagogical potentials and challenges and finaly to discuss the idea of european memory.
    • Cooperation ‘Historial de Peronne’; exchange on the educational work in the Memorials.
    • Each summer I am working with international groups in the Memorial - so called ‘Workcamps’. We are organizing a work on the site of Buchenwald (for example conservation work, archeological work) which is accompagnied by a historical and political study part. The programs include the discussion of the different ways to see and interprete history – and as well to discover common points.

  • Concrete challenges I am facing in my “dealing with the past”-related work:
    • One challenge is to develop new methods and materials for our work with young people (15 years and older). In this context: how to organize studies on the responsible persons of crimes or the society’s reaction on culpability and responsibility.
    • How to keep in touch with the younger generation? What can we do to enable historical imagination when the temporal distance to the history is getting bigger.
    • How to make precisely the connection between history and today? What topics to choose and to work out?
    • How to develop international, intercultural working in memorials? What topics are important and can be helpful?

  • My personal link to/interest for the topic of “dealing with difficult pasts”:
    I am very interested in the situation on the western Balkan, so if it is possible to deal with the competing memories in a way to find reconciliation? I like to compare the different situations of pedagogical work – so what are the main interests and questions of visitors, groups in the different countries, memorials? How do others deal with current topics when presenting or explaining history? What role does the pedagogical responsible have? I hope to discover points of common interest concerning new methods and international work – and this in a broader range than WWII–memorials in western Europe. This could lead to concrete new ideas approaching the past, so may be in a new contact for future cooperation.