Brandt School project group focuses on the politics of memory in the city of Erfurt

As a part of one of the project groups, in which every student participates in the third semester of study, seven Brandt School students worked with local organizers, activists, historians, and politicians studying the effects of Germany’s complicated history and memory, specifically in the city of Erfurt.

Part of the project group included attending interesting lectures and conducting interviews for a documentary film. One lecture was given by Eva Pusztai, a Hungarian survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Pictured below are students (left to right) Van Tan, Yimei Zhu and Katie Leary sitting down to a personal interview with Ms. Pusztai.

When asked what she wishes for the younger generation to remember, Ms. Pusztai gave the following advice (note that these are translated paraphrases and not direct quotes):

  • There is a lot of beauty in life and one should always take a bit of time for him/herself.
  • Friendship is one of the most important things in life.
  • Music is important.
  • Finding good hobbies is important.
  • If you don’t live in a democratic country, you should fight for democracy. If you live in a democracy, you should fight to maintain it so that you don’t lose it.

The lecture took place at Topf & Söhne, a recently opened place of memory in Erfurt. Topf & Söhne has a complicated history itself because it was the locally-based business in Erfurt, which provided the crematorium ovens for many concentration camps including Auschwitz. Today the building serves as a place of memory and a museum for the community. For more information visit the Topf & Söhne website.

Pictured below are several members of the project group with the mayor of Erfurt, Andreas Bausewein (on the far left), commemorating January 27 – the day Auschwitz and Birkenau were freed.

by: Katie Leary (USA), Student Blog Contributor