About project

Foundations for Freedom INGO, the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim/Auschwitz and Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation/Bergen-Belsen Memorial in co-operation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation implementing the international project “History begins in the family…”

The family and family relations play a crucial role in our lives. Families unite different generations and share various stories and memories.

The project sets several learning aims:

  • Learning more about the background in Poland, Germany, Ukraine through our families memories, and to understand how it has been formed.
  • Getting to know/see our family history in the wider context of other family stories from Ukraine, Poland, Germany.
  • Learning lessons of the past in order to connect unhealed past to the present and/or future, understanding reason-consequence link.
  • Learning both about family history as a value, and the family as a value in a wider understanding.

During this project young people deal with the theme of family and history. The centre of attention is the memory of the time before, during and after the Second World War, in particular the mass crimes of the National Socialist regime. The topic of the family and history is intended to be viewed from two perspectives – families in the history, and stories about history and memory within the family.

During the multi-day encounters in Germany, Poland and Ukraine participants visit Bergen-Belsen Memorial (former concentration camp and camp for prisoners of war) and Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum (former concentration and extermination camp), as well as memorial places in Lviv, Ukraine. By dealing with different sources participants will get to know the destinies of families, which suffered from the Nazi extermination and occupation policy in Europe, as well as from the Soviet occupation.

During the encounters we will consider the topics about what and in which way the intergenerational dialogue regarding history and memory takes place in our families and how historical consciousness is formed. In the first encounter during a workshop on oral history the participants will master the techniques of running interviews. During the second encounter they exchange information they got during the study of selected family stories and share their experiences. During the third encounter the participants will discuss own discoverings they have got during the participation in the project in the form of dialogue.

Through discovering different family stories we will see how separate generations in Poland, Germany and Ukraine remember about their past, which similarities and differences appear in each country and between the countries.

The project is cyclic and is based on joint meetings and studies of youth from Poland, Germany and Ukraine. It will also support the development of the democracy ideals at youth and communities, which they originate from, as well as support of promoting the fundamental values of human beings, development of the international cooperation and mutual understanding.

The project results will be presented publicly in the form of the online exhibition of family stories gathered by participants.

Seven persons will be selected out of each country participating in the project, who:

  • are interested in the topics of the history of the 2nd World War, as well as the topic of social and cultural memory about this events;
  • would like to undertake a study on the topic and/or to find out more about the destinies/stories of their families before and during 2WW and in the after-war period; and are ready to speak about and explore memories and attitudes regarding these events within their families;
  • like to meet other people and would like to participate in a joint Polish-German-Ukrainian encounter, the effects of which will be documented and made available a wider audience.

Project languages: Polish, German, Ukrainian, English.

Information for participants:


International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim/Auschwitz
Elżbieta Pasternak, coordinator in Poland
Tel. +48 33 8432107
Email: pasternak@mdsm.pl

Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation/Bergen-Belsen Memorial
Daniel Tonn, Benjamin Günther, coordinators in Germany
Tel. +49 5051 4759 173
E-mail: daniel.tonn@stiftung-ng.de

Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past Programme
Oleksa Stasevych, Oleh Ovcharenko, Svitlana Arabadzhy, coordinators in Ukraine
Tel. +380 67 622 7218, +380 50 309 7997
E-Mail: ukrainian.action@gmail.com

The project is implemented by the Foundations for Freedom, INGO as a part of the Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past Programme in co-operation with the International Youth Meeting Centre in Oświęcim/Auschwitz (Poland) and Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation/Bergen-Belsen Memorial (Germany).

Logo of PL, DE, UK partners

The project has been funded by German-Polish Youth Office, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Poland and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation Bureau in Ukraine and Belarus, Irene Prestwich Trust (UK), German Embassy in Kyiv and Ukrainian-Polish Cooperation Foundation (PAUCI).