On 9 November, Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth hosted a memorial event at the Federal Foreign Office for the victims of the November pogroms of 1938. The event included a presentation on the remembrance project, “We will call out your name”, in which teenagers are asked to imagine the lives that victims of the Holocaust might have had and to tell these stories in comic form. Roth praised the project as a role model for how new forms of remembrance must and can be found for each generation.
Keeping the memories of the victims alive
During the November pogroms of 1938, state-organised gangs of thugs across Germany abused and murdered members of the Jewish community and set fire to and ransacked their synagogues and businesses. On the 77th anniversary of these disgraceful events, Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe at the Federal Foreign Office, hosted an event on the project “We will call out your name”. The idea of the project is to keep the memory of the victims of the Holocaust alive through fictional biographies in comic form. The project is the brainchild of Avitall Gerstetter, a musician and artist from Berlin, and was inspired by the story of her great aunt, who was murdered in a concentration camp. Gerstetter and the renowned illustrator Tobi Dahmen worked together on the graphic novel “Hanna & Rozsika”, which tells the story of two girls until their death as children in Auschwitz.
The teenagers involved in the project are asked to continue the story from this point on. They ask themselves what might have become of Hanna and Rozsika, and of other victims of the Holocaust, had they not been murdered at such a young age under National Socialism. The teenagers’ ideas will be gathered in a blog and at events with school classes, teenagers, churches and memorial sites. The aim is to publish them as a second graphic novel.
New forms of remembrance
In his speech, the Minister of State called for the development of new forms of remembering and commemorating the Holocaust. He underlined the irreplaceable value of speaking with survivors and contemporary witnesses, but pointed out that such conversations would only be possible for a few more years. It was thus necessary, he said, to create a culture of remembrance with which the younger generation could identify more strongly. “We all know from our own experience of learning that it has a far more lasting effect when you write a story for yourself rather than simply copying a text. This makes Avigall Gerstetter’s project a role model.”