Nicola Andersson stands with her smartphone in front of three brass stones, already slightly darkened, lying on the ground in front of an elementary school on Teutoburger Platz in Berlin. It reads: “Josef Zeisler, born in 1895, fled in 1938, murdered on February 15, 1942 in Oświęcim, lived here.” On the next one: “Here lived Jetti Zeisler, born in 1894, escaped in 1938, murdered on June 11, 1942 in Tarnów”. And: “Daniel Zeisler, b. 1933, escaped in 1938, murdered on June 11, 1942 in Tarnów ”. Andersson leans and scans obstacles with the help of a self-developed application.
Thanks to this, you can learn more about the people commemorated on the obstacles. When the smartphone’s camera captures the stones, the app compares them with the photos in the database. Thus, a black and white image of the Zeisler family appears on the screen of the mobile phone. You can learn more about the Zeisler family by pressing the play button.
Primary school students conduct interviews with eyewitnesses
The interviews are part of an optional course on Berlin and National Socialism. The working group was initiated by the teacher Stefanie Mühlbauer. He posts eyewitness interviews on the school’s website. But for Stefanie Mühlbauer, simply posting the podcasts on the home page is not enough. He wants a direct connection to the obstacles in front of school. The teacher found out about Nicola Andersson and her application through a newspaper article. The newspaper brought them together and they both have been working as a team for almost two years.
Remember better with personal stories
Nicola Andersson developed the app as a Master’s Thesis in the Protection of Cultural Heritage. Her own experiences gave her an impulse to deal with obstacles and remember: she always wanted to remember the names of people who previously lived on her street or in its vicinity.
Andersson tells about an article she read while studying. The author, Neal Silbermann, describes how important it is to form a personal bond with people you want to remember or remember. By using her app to tell stories of names on obstacles, you are more likely to remember these people. Because, for example, you find out that the displaced or murdered person liked a certain style of music, which you also like, says Nicola Andersson. That is why it has developed its application. These are the stories of our streets, so to speak. “And it will only be kept alive if we also nurture it so vividly.”
knowledge through actual interest
Teacher Stefanie Mühlbauer notes that her students are not as ‘overwhelmed’ by the project as is often the case in traditional classes. Through personal contact with eyewitnesses and relatives of the victims of Nazism, there is a living relationship. Assuming a human, the questions would arise: How could this have happened? What were the rights? And why has no one helped? ” Knowledge comes from questions. Because the questions come from within. “It’s an interest and it’s not pushed from the outside.”
It’s a heart project, an app and a work with students and modern witnesses, say Stefanie Mühlbauer and Nicola Andersson. A heart project that they devote a lot of their free time to. In particular, Nicola Andersson has so far developed the app largely without financial support. According to a spokesman, the Berlin Senate is now planning to finance the project. But nothing is concrete yet. Nicola Andersson and Stefanie Mühlbauer think they could use some support. Also to make the project accessible to more people. The app is not public yet. Ideally, education and walks with the app should be possible not only in Berlin but across the country. And maybe even abroad, explain Nicola Andersson and Stefanie Mühlbauer.
But whether with or without funds, contact with witnesses and relatives of the victims is already very worthwhile, they both think. Also for working with memory. You also get something back, says Stefanie Mühlbauer. “They thank the children and young people for keeping busy.” And some wanted to know: ‘Is the street still called Chorinerstrasse? Oh, you live on Chorinerstrasse? I used to live there. ” It’s typical of the neighborhood. Nicola Andersson adds: Contact with children and other people involved could – at least to some extent – also improve their relationship with Germany. Perhaps this would be the start of a better idea of what Germany is now.