„Every Wall is a Challenge“ – International researchers on excursion in Poland (7-9 Nov. 2014)

Group photo in Krzyzowa (photo: C. Reichert)
Group photo in Krzyzowa (photo: participant)

Looking on 9 November from a historical perspective it is a meaningful date not only for Germans. There are two major events that took place in history that day: the Kristallnacht 1938 and the Fall of the Wall 1989, both historical events that still have an influence on German-Polish relations nowadays.

A group of 36 international and German PhD students, postdocs and guest researchers from 12 different countries, joined by the TU Dresden Welcome Center and the International Office of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, went to Wroclaw and Krzyzowa in Poland. They started their first day visiting the Leopoldina auditorium and the museum of the University of Wroclaw guided by the Polish philologist Dr. Wojciech Browarny. Afterwards the group met the consul general of Germany in Wroclaw, Elisabeth Wolbers, at the Saxon liaison office for a talk about German-Polish relations today and in the past. Having commenced her work in July 2014 Mrs. Wolbers was ready to take questions on Poland joining the European Union, the possible introduction of the Euro in the future, but also the issue about guilt and the historical discovery and interpretation of the events in Germany and Poland during the Second World War and in the decades that followed.

For 55 years now Wroclaw is partner city of Dresden. Only 270 km from here, Wroclaw in South-West of Poland with its 634 000 inhabitants is known as the city of bridges due to 12 islands and 112 bridges across the river Oder. More about this town that was once alternately German, Bohemian-Silesian and Polish the group learnt in a guided city tour. For example about the Wroclaw dwarfs that are found all over the city! Today regarded as a tourist attraction, these little gnomes commemorate the “Orange Alternative”, a Polish opposition movement in the 1980s. By the way, the Lord Mayor of Dresden, Helma Orosz, just lately received a dwarf as a present. At the moment the little guy is exposed in the city town hall but will find its place somewhere in the city of Dresden one day.

On Sunday 9 November the international group visited Kreisau – today a memorial and youth community center – and got to know the history of the family of Helmuth James Graf von Moltke. Von Moltke was a resistance fighter against National Socialism and founder of a resistance group. By the end of the Second World War he was executed by the Nazis due to his activities. Highly impressed by the history of this place and many interesting chronicles, the group participated in a workshop focusing the year of 1989. The German reunification and the end of the Cold War did not only have effects on Europe, but also on the world. This soon became clear when the group shared their experiences from their home countries in little working groups. After all, it was a very personal examination on the topic exactly 25 years after the Fall of the Berlin Wall at the location where only three days after the Fall of the Wall the former German chancellor Helmut Kohl and the former Polish Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki sent a clear signal for peace and reconciliation (see Wikipedia).

Beside all those historically and politically interesting topics the group did not miss out on the Polish kitchen. Pirogi (small dumplings) where quite popular, even in soups. “It is interesting, I really liked it. I´ve never tried pink soup!” said Jacqueline from Tanzania with astonishment about the beetroot soup. Wroclaw – even at night – reveals as quite a vivid and cosmopolitan town.

This excursion was supported by the city of Dresden and the TU Dresden maintaining a strategic partnership with the University of Wroclaw.

– Gefördert durch die Landshauptstadt Dresden, Büro der Oberbürgermeisterin, Abteilung Europäische und Internationale Angelegenheiten

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(all photos taken by C. Reichert)

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