For the third time, after 2018 and 2019, VfL Bochum 1848 fans went on a four-day educational trip to Thuringia last weekend. Organised by the Bochum fan project and the VfL fan representatives in close cooperation, a total of 37 participants visited the cultural city of Weimar, the memorial site of the former Buchenwald concentration camp and the "Topf & sons memorial site in Erfurt.
The VfL fans spent four moving days together in Thuringia. Early on Thursday morning, the group set off by bus to Weimar for their first joint programme item. Axel Stefek from the Weimar City Archive welcomed the Bochum group and gave them a two-hour guided tour of the city, focusing on the period of the German Empire (from 1919) up to Adolf Hitler's rise to power. In the evening, the programme of the first day was rounded off by watching the documentary film "Hitler's Weimar" and an open reflection session.
The group then spent most of the next two days on the grounds of the Buchenwald memorial. Together with Jan Malecha and Ronald Hirte, two staff members of the education department, they explored the memorial site. By providing a lot of background information as well as personal stories about the Buchenwald prisoners, Malecha and Hirte succeeded in giving the Bochum group an understanding of the - literally - inconceivable events of the Nazi era in Buchenwald and the surrounding area. The focus was not only on the lives of the prisoners and the SS soldiers, but also on the general organisation of the entire concentration camp grounds. In this context, the group also listened to a lecture on the Buchenwald satellite camps in Bochum, where countless victims of National Socialism lived as forced labourers until 1945.
On the second day at the memorial, they first visited the museum, which is located in the old central camp on the camp grounds. The participants had about two hours to explore the two floors of the museum on their own. Countless original documents from the Nazi era as well as pictures, videos and audio recordings provided a particularly impressive insight into life in the concentration camp. In the afternoon, the focus was then placed on the visit to the "Buchenwald National Memorial", the large national monument on the south side of the Ettersberg, where the former concentration camp is located. Here the group laid a memorial wreath from the fan project and the club and commemorated the victims of National Socialism.
The intensive and emotionally challenging weekend was concluded on Sunday with a visit to the "Topf & sons” memorial site in Erfurt. In the Thuringian state capital, the family business J. A. Topf & Sons not only manufactured the incinerators for the crematoria of various concentration camps during the Nazi era. The gas chambers in which countless victims of National Socialism lost their lives were also partly designed by the Erfurt company. After the company's history had been largely concealed for decades, the reappraisal of the history of Topf & Sons was only intensified at the end of the 1990s. Since then, the place of remembrance has been created at the old company headquarters in Erfurt. An introductory film and a visit to the Museum of the Place of Remembrance ensured that this part of the Nazi era could also be better understood.
VfL Bochum 1848 and the Bochum fan project would like to express their sincere thanks for the lively and intensive participation in this year's educational trip to Buchenwald. A big thank you also goes to the many fans and companies who contributed to the realisation of this year's trip through their donations. A continuation of the project through further trips to the memorial is planned.
>> More information on the Buchenwald Memorial