The end of WW2 as recounted by a few witnesses within my region seemed to have breathed a sigh of relief. Cameroon being a former German colony at the time,a few men had been recruited or sold out as slaves to fight during the war and the end of this was brought a new era and less pain to families of victims.
Nicolas was born and grew up in France. His first job brought him to Berlin. He sent us his reflections via Email: “The first myth that came to mind directly is Joan of Arc. She is one of the first figure of French nationalism and the actual history might have been a lot more complex and she might be the romanticised version of multiple different historical characters.”
Alex from Germany works in Language and Intercultural Education. Under the hashtag #histovoices she shared how pupils in her classes discuss the question “how do Germans remember the end of WWII?”: https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_xrCkTI07n/?igshid=1fk5a4eh32vhi
I am particularly interested in the topic of WWII because it is something that is related to many European families and my family is not an exception. During the WWII my grandmother was in a forced labor camp. Two years ago I decided that I, as a young artist, want to reflect on the topic of my grandma’s experience and go deeper into this topic. So I went to an artist residence in Berlin. The residence was on the basis of NS Zwangsarbeit Dokumentationszentrum. At the end I made an art project in which I reflected my emotions of visiting these places.
My image regarding the end of the Second World War is shaped by the stories of my aunts and my father, who was born in Wroclaw in September 1944. Starting from February 1945, my grandmother, her two daughters and the infant Reinhard – my father – were on the run. To escape the Soviet takeover of their hometown of Breslau, they came to Berlin and then found shelter in the small Brandenburg town of Elsterwerda.
I would be really interested to know who or what shaped your image of the end of the war.
Here’s a picture of my grandma shortly after the escape. My grandma’s stories about the Second World War were centred around escape and loneliness. My grandmother Margarete fled from Königsberg by sea in January 1945 at the age of 18. Alone, without her parents, without her siblings. First she was accommodated in Saxon Switzerland and then she came to Potsdam in July 1945. In 1946 her brother returned from war captivity and in 1948 her younger sister took her into her house. Her parents had died during the last days of the war in Königsberg. Since that time she came to Berlin often to earn some money and the city remained important to her throughout her whole life.
In history class it was mainly about individual people and the perpetrator’s point of view. Society, however, was left out of these stories. Only when I came to a new school, my perspective changed. The name of the school was “Geschwister Scholl” and was dedicated to the memory of the resistance group of the so-called Weiße Rose (White Rose). We talked a lot about it and it was only then that I really realized that these were young people, some of them as old as me, who had actively opposed the Nazi regime. We then often ask ourselves the question: and what about the rest? What did they do and what would I have done in that time?
Dilan from Sri Lanka went to school in Italy. He sent us a voice message.
John is from Columbia. He answered our question via WhatsApp.