Direct contact with emotion. Deaf and hard of hearing youth from Wrocław on internship at the Memorial
Young people from the Lower Silesia Special School and Education Centre No. 12 for the Deaf and hearing impaired in Wrocław visited the Memorial under the internship project implemented jointly with the Voluntary Service Office of the International Centre for Education about Auschwitz and the Holocaust.
They did not only get the opportunity to work with conservators of the Museum, but also visited the sites of the former camp, and as volunteers helped with the 78th-anniversary celebration of the first deportation of poles to the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.
- We look at this project and our presence from a historical perspective because, in Nazi Germany, the deaf and people with other disorders were sterilised and sentenced to death. Our youth, in spite of the difficult start in life, is precious and we want to show the world that we too can. Here, we can help save the artefacts, to commemorate those who died here. In our centre, we have a group of carpenters and restorers. Young people could work on high-quality equipment in the Museum’s woodwork shop - said Piotr Kondratowicz, the group’s educator.
- We will be remembered for the new benches we made in the so-called birch alley on the premises of the Auschwitz I camp. They are made of excellent wood - I believe they will serve 10-15 years. The second thing we dealt with was the restoration of a cabinet, a very complicated bookshelf - he added.
Piotr Kondratowicz underlined that the visit to the Museum was a compelling emotional experience for the young people: - While visiting the Museum, they repeated two words in sign language: “unbelievable” and “carnage”. They define the entire emotional sphere of their stay here. For them, it is a passage through the authentic space to a direct encounter with emotions, because here, there are no language layers. We have an instant connection of the image with the feeling. A deaf person sees, associates facts and instantly expresses emotions.
Mateusz Rochowicz, one of the participants of the internship, in describing his work at the Memorial, said: - I could observe and learn. The assistance we could render here brought me great pleasure - in my case, notably, the renovation of antique cabinets, the execution of all the details helped me to develop in technical terms.
When asked what left a lasting impression on him after the tour, Mateusz Rochowicz emphasised: Sadness. Distress. I cried a little. A lot of people died here, and people should respect one another. They should not kill.
- We met incredible young people and fantastic, extremely committed teachers. All of them characterised by great empathy and the desire to broaden their experience of the memorial and its history. It is a pity that this unique stay ended so soon, because for me - personally - the opportunity to work with this exceptional young people was a great satisfaction. In such moments we know why and for who we work at the Memorial - said Andrzej Kacorzyk, director of the ICEAH.
The young people from the Wrocław centre participated in the 78th-anniversary celebrations of the deportations of the first group of Poles to KL Auschwitz, actively supporting employees of the Museum. For two former prisoners of the camp present at the anniversary - Zdzisławy Włodarczyk and Ryszard Machulik, they made symbolic angels from wood, which they personally presented to the witnesses of history.
A remarkable and unusual event occurred during the stay at the Wrocław youth Memorial. Piotr Kondratowicz, a tutor, gave the Museum a historic fork and spoon, which he found some time ago in the private possession of an individual in Switzerland, and which according to her account originate from the Auschwitz camp. The objects are now in the Collections of the Auschwitz Memorial.