Unlocking Memories – Culture of Remembrance in Europe – an Italian perspective

Letizia Garziano and Giorgio Rossi

Unlocking Memories, this is the name of the project that brought together me and thirty other Italian, Greek and German boys and girls in the town of Vlotho, in Germany, at the Bildungsstätte Gesamteuropäisches Studienwerk.

The week-long initiative allowed us to shed light on our past, especially on the events of the Second World War and the Holocaust, but also on the present and future of Europe and the whole world.

Discussing among ourselves and with experts in the field, visiting the places where events took shape, where they still echo in the form of memories, we better understood what happened, becoming more and more aware of how this could happen again, if we were to give it the opportunity. To avoid the cyclical nature of history it is necessary to learn from the mistakes made, so that they do not occur again, reflecting on them and comparing with other voices, other points of view, and I believe that this week has taught us precisely this. The working group was immediately united and in tune, the linguistic barrier overcome by the common knowledge of the English language, which allowed us to communicate and interact without too many difficulties. The constant comparison, both during the activities and during the periods of free time, has allowed us to broaden our horizons, knowing other opinions, on the themes of the project and not only, enriching each one’s own culture.

An example of this was an activity that required us to make our family tree and compare it with the other’s. Deep discussions emerged, which allowed each one of us to get to know the others in a different light, in a way that would not normally be possible, and at the same time to discover more about our own roots. Dialogues of this type were on the agenda, caused by the topic dealt with from time to time. The so-called „Reflection Round“, which concluded the day, brought the whole group together in reflection, bringing out the various thoughts on the activities, considerations and advice, giving a definite shape to the vague ideas that each had formulated in the previous hours, integrating them with the other’s. These seven days that have flown by, have left a mark inside me, and surely in the others too, a mark that I hope will be indelible, which will allow us to become responsible European citizens, so that the horrors of the last century never happen again. I can only hope that it will be like this, thank my travel companions and all those who have made this experience possible, unique and unforgettable. Thank you.

Letizia Garziano and Giorgio Rossi are Italian participants of the European project “Unlocking Memores – Remembering the Past, Shaping the Future” at GESW, Euphoria and Link.

Letizia studies Medical systems engineering while Giorgio is attending the last year of Scientific Highschool. She is 22, Giorgio is 18.

The exchange is supported by the EU (Erasmus+ Programme) and the German-Greek Youth Office (DGJW)