Gedenkstätten sind mehr als historische Orte, denn sie stellen jene Menschen in den Mittelpunkt, die an diesen Orten gelebt und gelitten haben. Ein geführter Rundgang an einem solchen Ort, wie ihn die Schüler*innen aller 4. Klassen in diesem Schuljahr erlebt haben, macht betroffen und wirft Fragen auf: Warum ist es dennoch wichtig, dass wir solche Gedenkstätten besuchen? Welche unterschiedlichen Funktionen haben sie? Welche Gefühle, Erfahrungen und Gedanken möchte ich mitnehmen, weil sie auch für mein Leben, und unsere heutige Gesellschaft von Bedeutung sind? Und welche lasse ich dort?
Die 4A Klasse hat sich im Rahmen des Geschichtsunterrichts sehr intensiv mit der Aufarbeitung unseres Besuches beschäftigt. Was damals geschah können wir nicht ändern, aber es lässt und betroffen und ohnmächtig zurück. Was wir aber tun können, ist den Symbolen des Nationalsozialismus mit unseren eigenen zu trotzen: Sonne statt Hakenkreuz, Licht statt Dunkelheit, Wärme statt Kälte, Menschlichkeit statt Hass, Zivilcourage statt Wegschauen.
Hannah Gutlederer aus der 4A hat ihre Eindrücke auf beeindruckende Art und Weise literarisch aufgearbeitet:
Death in front of you
Death in front of you – pure and cruel. And you see him right in front of you. Right under your nose. He’s everywhere, behind you, to your right, to your left, above you and below you. Right where your feet touch the ground, even the air you’re breathing is drenched with death.
When you close your eyes, you see the people, naked, robbed of their clothes, names and human dignity. Humiliated and overworked. You see them running, walking, dragging themselves painfully forward. You see the seas of tears covering the floors, you see the blood oozing from every part of the people’s bodies and you see the fear and desperation gnawing at people’s souls.
Silent tears start to form in your eyes. With them there comes a pain, a stabbing pain, which comes from the inside. A pain you never want to feel again because it destroys you. It comes like an arrow, a sharp arrow, heading straight towards your heart. And then, then it wraps itself around your heart, almost ruining it. Holds it painfully compressed, but it can still beat a little, a few more beats. Your breath is getting heavier and heavier, your lips are pressed together because no innocent word can describe this oppressive and terrible feeling.
When you close your eyes again, you see the other people, the ones who were partially responsible for the fact that many others had to suffer so terribly. They tear out the souls and divide the hearts of innocent people into millions of pieces. They erase the lives of those they didn’t even know, as if they were insignificant and unimportant candles.
The pain moves on, from your heart to your feet, which can barely take a step forward. To your hands, hanging straight from your body, not even able to move a finger. In your head, countless thoughts are spinning around and creating a terrible mess, while on the other hand, your head is empty, completely empty.
The names on the wall.
You wouldn’t even notice them at first sight.
Unintentionally, they cut into your thoughts, penetrate further to your heart.
Where they burn like a deep wound.
Names that belonged to human lives.
Lives that belonged to people.
People who no longer belonged to themselves.
And then finally, just before the exit, when I already thought I had left the hardest part behind me:
A small, unremarkable commemorative plaque caught my eye. “In memory of my beloved mother…”
“In memory of my beloved mother.” Immediately my eyes filled with tears and this pain, coming from the inside, which I already knew, burned itself even deeper into my heart. I felt as if a small part of my heart was breaking. The thought of my mum, my dad, one of my siblings or any other family member being taken away, from one day to the other, caught me. Tears filled my eyes. I wasn’t even able to move forward. I wanted to get myself out of that place, protect my soul from this breaking pain. But my entire body was like frozen. In my head everything had gone black. I don’t know how long was standing there. Suddenly, someone carefully took my shaking hand: “Come with me, I think it’s better for you to leave”. Without me realizing, my friend was slowly leading me out of the room. There was concern in her eyes. “In memory of my beloved mother. Memory of my beloved mother. My beloved mother…” My thoughts were circling around in one moment, and in the next everything was just calm and empty.
When I slowly came to myself again, I found myself standing in the door frame. My entire body was shaking, my lips were tightly pressed together. I wanted to scream, but not a single word would pass my lips. My friend was still calmly holding my hand. I was glad she didn’t say anything. Words would have never been able to express my feelings. Suddenly a voice reached my ears. It took endless seconds until they reached my consciousness. “Are you okay, Hannah?” my teacher wanted to know, a bit worried. I don’t know how long it took me to respond, I was just empty. “I’m… I’m alright, I guess”. She looked me straight into the eyes and without me needing to say anything more, she said: “It’s okay, not to be okay!”