On April 15-19, 2024, we hosted in our Centre 28 participants of a study trip organized by the non-profit organization Begegnen e.V.

The organization was established in 2019 and its goal is to conduct a tripartite dialogue between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities in North Rhine-Westphalia. Racial and religious discrimination is unfortunately still present in the modern world, which is why, according to Begegnen e.V. seminars such as the one that just took place at CDiM are so important for building mutual respect, empathy and fighting harmful stereotypes. Lectures, educational projects and study trips are not only a good opportunity to meet people from different cultural and religious circles, but also to draw lessons and conclusions from the difficult past, exchange views on current social problems in North Rhine-Westphalia and in all of  Europe, and  for trying to create a future free from unjust divisions, discrimination and hatred towards other people.

The participants of the study trip to Poland were a very diverse group of people aged 25 to 80, coming from various towns in North Rhine-Westphalia. During the five-day trip, they explored together one of the darkest parts of German history and its significance for modern society. The main points of their program were visiting the site of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau and learning about the history of the city of Oświęcim, along with a visit to the Synagogue and the Jewish Cemetery. The group also went to Harmęże to see the exhibition of works “Photographic Plates of Memory: Labyrinths” by former Auschwitz-Birkenau prisoner Marian Kołodziej. The program also included a trip to Krakow, focused on the history of the former Jewish district of Kazimierz, and the Galicia Museum, where they met a witness of history. It was one of the key and most moving moments of the entire study trip to Poland. An important part of the seminar was also a tripartite intercultural and interreligious dialogue to overcome prejudices and counteract anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism.

Organization Begegnen e.V. will celebrate its 5th anniversary this year. On this occasion, during the study trip to Poland on April 15-19, 2024, the participants were accompanied by a camerawoman, documenting the course of the seminar as well as reflections and conversations with group members. The resulting documentary film will be presented in June at the anniversary of Begegnen e.V in Düsseldorf and published on their website.