Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e.V.
Spendentelefon: 0561 700 90
Bi-, tri- or international youth exchanges are meeting places for young people from 12 to 27. During these events, the participants deal with experiences of war and violence in the 20th century. Together they develop messages to support peaceful and tolerant togetherness and thus actively help shape Europe’s culture of remembrance. Current sociopolitical questions play an important role here.Workcamps are a special type of youth exchange. They combine practical work in the form of maintaining war graves and memorials with the examination and discussion of topics and issues with regard to the respective memorial site. The participants therefore make a valuable contribution to designing and maintaining graves with dignity so that they may serve as memorials against war and tyranny.
Working for peace means working against forgetting. The youth exchanges and workcamps lead the participants to places of remembrance of wars and times of tyranny. They ask critical questions, search for the traces of history, process their impressions and discuss important questions with others: How could this happen at the time? How am I connected to this time? What does peace mean to me? What is our responsibility today? What is the situation in the world today? Many workcamps or youth exchanges offer guided tours at war graves or memorials or visits to museums, discussions with contemporary witnesses or content-focused modules discussing peace education topics. Dealing with history and thinking together show how fundamental and valuable respect for every single human being is in order to live together peacefully.
Working for peace means promoting communication and exchange between people. This is why youth exchanges and workcamps are meeting places where young people get the chance to meet each other and broaden their horizons together. We organise bi- or trinational meetings and workcamps with partner organisations from youth work programmes from many different countries. For our international youth exchanges, we invite youths from different countries mainly to Germany. Sometimes modules with this focus are also offered, for example on the topic of dealing with stereotypes or extremism. Since workcamps and exchanges are advertised freely, any information provided on the groups and nationalities of the participants is not binding; we can only give information on the goals.
At the workcamps, participants work approximately 20 hours per week maintaining war graves or memorials. For example, they help with the preservation and restoration of German war grave memorials of the First and Second World War, war grave memorials of other nations, Jewish cemeteries and (concentration camp) memorials to preserve them as peace memorials. Sometimes hard work is required, e.g. at some work camps in Eastern European countries. Meeting people from the host country, trips in the surrounding areas, sightseeing and other team activities balance the physical labour.
Leisure activities and fun play an important role at the projects and offer an opportunity to experience fun and action together with other young people. Youths from the partner countries can offer their guests an insider’s guide during visits in nearby cities. Depending on the programme, many leisure activities are offered which might include shopping, Sightseeing or evenings at the camp fire, hikes for nature lovers and sporting activities. If you are interested in culture, there will be something for you too. And of course, there will always time for celebrating and having fun together – making new friends is easy for everybody at barbecue parties or at the disco. One thing is for sure: you will never be bored!