Anti-Fascist and Feminist Volunteer Work Stay 2023
There will be a Volunteer Work Stay at the memorial site of the concentration camp Uckermark this year, to which we invite all WLINTAs*. We want to build and repair together on the memorial site again and deal with the history of the concentration camp and the stories of the survivors. This year the Volunteer Work Stay will take place from August 4-13, 2023. For further information and how to register, continue reading below.
*WLINTA stands for people who identify as WomenLesbiansInterNonbinaryTransAgeder
Antifascist Feminist Volunteer Work Stay at the Site of the Former Uckermark Youth Concentration Camp and Later Extermination Site / August 4–13, 2023
Who we are
The Initiative für einen Gedenkort ehemaliges KZ Uckermark e.V (Initiative for an Uckermark Concentration Camp Memorial) conducts research on the history of the former youth concentration camp and later extermination site, seeks to engage with the survivors and their relatives, and is continuously working towards the creation of a worthy commemoration site there. The yearly Volunteer Work Stays are an important part of that effort.
The former youth concentration camp was constructed approximately 90 kilometers north of Berlin in 1942. It is located right next to the Ravensbrück women’s concentration camp and was built by its prisoners. Only one youth concentration camp was established specifically for the imprisonment of girls and young women during National Socialism and not many people know about it.
Between 1942 and 1945, some 1,200 women and girls were incarcerated in the Uckermark Concentration Camp. They were subjected to forced labour in the harshest living conditions.
In January 1945, an extermination site was built on the partially evacuated area for prisoners from the Ravensbrück concentration camp and others. By April 1945, approximately 5,000 people had been murdered there.
What do we want to work on?
We want to work together at the site and discuss different forms of commemoration and the politics around them, as well as our visions and ideas for a worthy commemoration space. We invited a survivor of the Ravensbrück concentration camp and some relatives of Uckermark camp survivors to visit us. There will be a guided tour on the history of the youth concentration camp and later extermination site, and we will offer a workshop on classism*. We will also have plenty of time for physical work at the memorial site itself, and also for hanging out, reading and exchanging ideas. Once we are all there together, we will decide as a group exactly what everyone wants to do.
What should I expect at the Volunteer Work Stay?
During the Volunteer Work Stay, we would like to make space for people to come together to engage with the history of the memorial site and its survivors, to meet survivors and their family and friends and to remember together.
For us, one form of remembrance is working together at the memorial site. This includes various activities: mowing the meadow, cleaning and repairing signs, re-painting path markings, putting up new signs, fixing the info boxes, cleaning, painting. There is usually something for everyone to do; you don’t need any special skills and we would like to create a space where we can learn from each other and our differences are accepted. It is also ok to come to the Volunteer Work Stay even if you don’t want to work at the memorial site.
In addition to working at the memorial site and spending time engaging in personal and general examination of this subject matter, there can and should be time to retreat from the group, to go swimming, to read, to cook and bake, to play table tennis, to take walks, to go eat ice cream in the next town, etc.
Who is invited?
We invite all FLINTA (female, lesbian, inter, non-binary, trans, agender people) who want to get to know the site and are interested in its history and antifascist politics of remembrance. This year we want to reserve half of the spaces for people who have experienced classism*. Classism plays an important role in the history of the Uckermark concentration camp and is also central to our political work as an initiative. At the same time, the political left is becoming increasingly academic and middle-class norms are often adopted without question. Even in leftist spaces, people who experience or have experienced classism (e.g. people who are poor or working class) are often invisible. That’s why we introduced a quota this year. Still, we welcome all registrations.
If you want to make use of the quota, please write “I want to make use of the quota” or just the word “quota” in the subject of the email when registering.
The organization group includes people with and without experiences of classism:
- I grew up in the East German provinces in the 90s.
- I never had the feeling that I couldn’t afford something I wanted.
- Thinking and our language was questioned/disparaged within my family.
- Because of racism, I was sometimes thought to be poorer (apartment, store detectives,..).
- Teachers thought that I belonged in high school and would study.
- I have already signed 1 rental contract with guarantee from my father.
- I grew up with little money.
- My parents studied in the GDR, my siblings and I study almost all.
- I am one of the few from an extended family who studied and moved away.
- I inherited and even though I earn little (deliberately chosen), I am secured and privileged by classism.
- I am a craftswoman & I am unemployed.
- Life is complex, at the end of the day I am privileged by classism, even though without a middle class educational background I often pretended to have a clue “education”.
- I have friends and family who can support me financially.
* Classism is a form of discrimination based on class origin or class status. Classism limits people’s access to housing, education, healthcare, social participation, recognition and respect, money and more.
Where are we staying and what will it be like there?
We will stay at the vicarage in Himmelpfort, which is about 25 minutes by bike from the Fürstenberg train station and about 15 minutes from the Uckermark Concentration Camp Memorial site. You can either stay in a room in the house or camp in the yard. The rooms have 2-6 beds, which we will divvy out together on the first day of the Volunteer Work Stay.
There is a large yard where we can eat our meals if the weather is nice, otherwise there are two large common rooms inside the house. The yard also has its own lake access for swimming.
Unfortunately, both the house where we are staying and the site itself are not fully accessible; please contact us about any specific needs and we’ll figure out what’s possible together.
How do I get to the Volunteer Work Stay? How do we get from the Fürstenberg train station or the vicarage to the memorial site?
You can get to Fürstenberg (Havel) with the regional train. From there, it is 25 minutes by bike or 15 minutes by car to Himmelpfort. The memorial site is half way in between Himmelpfort and the Fürstenberg train station. It is really practical to come with your bike so you can bike from the house to the memorial site on the days you are working there. However, there will be at least one car at the house for shopping trips and to transport tools to the memorial site, so it will be possible to go along in the car if you can’t or don’t want to ride a bike. It’s also possible to borrow bikes from the youth hostel at the Ravensbrück Memorial Site, which is close by.
We are aware that it isn’t safe for everyone to travel alone through Brandenburg. So we would like to arrange a meetup point to travel together for anyone who would like to. We can also take some people by car (we will arrange this in advance over email). We are happy to coordinate together to think of ways you can be protected on the journey. Please let us know if you would like to talk about that.
How is the volunteer work stay organized? What is the schedule? What will each day be like?
The Volunteer Work Stays are self-organized. There is a small group that takes care of the basic preparation in advance of the event, such as financing, the basic structure of our time there and a schedule for the time spent together. Once we are all there, we’ll organize the day to day together. So we’ll figure out who does what everyday, like who will cook or go shopping, who wants to take on particular construction projects, etc.
We spend most days together and start the day eating breakfast together and eat dinner together in the evening. During the day, we will spend time at the memorial site, be visited by survivors or their loved ones, and have workshops. It is always possible to decide not to participate in any of the group activities. A schedule will be provided on the first day of the work stay. If you have any of your own ideas for the event schedule, feel free to contact us and let us know in advance or just bring it up once we are there.
We do not organize childcare, but if you would like to come with children, please contact us by email. When you register, please let us know what language(s) you speak, so we can see if we can get interpreters if necessary.
Costs & Registration
We have expenses for accommodation, food, tickets, building materials, fees, etc. We are applying for funds from foundations, but unfortunately this will not be enough. We want to make it possible for people with little or no income to participate in the volunteer work stay. To make this possible, we would like people who have more money or assets to pay more accordingly. More information will follow after the registration.
We are applying for the Volunteer Work Stay to be recognized as a form of educational leave (Bildungsurlaub) in several German federal states; please email us for more information.
If you are interested, please register by May 31st.
Contact / Registration: