Post by Rand
Monday 7th of August
The refugees group held a meeting at 10:00 am, the members of the group were sharing their thoughts and ideas about the projects (Humans of Siegen), the positives and negatives of the projects and all other possibilities such as the number of posts we might aim to, dealing with the comments and the freedom of speech. We also met two Syrians who are studying German language and they talked about the different situations they have to deal with being in Germany and the media’s effect on the community here with using few stories as an example. Also, they expressed their feelings about being here and how excited they are as well as being extremely stressed because of the German language test they have to take which, according to them, will determine their lives being here. It was a very positive meeting overall. We were able to discuss the cons and pros of the project. After the meeting, we were supposed to start with the interviews but time did not really help so we ate lunch from subway and it’s not an experience I would want to do again, the food is a struggle at this point. We had to also do some banking work and there was my surprise, I wasted an hour telling an employee that I don’t speak German but she was convinced still that she doesn’t know English and kept talking in German although I understood nothing. After an hour of frustration, she noticed how frustrated I was getting and then all of a sudden, she started speaking in English (her English was as good as mine) it was a real shock and very awkward. I did not get the reason of her attitude because I have met other Germans and they were kind and spoke in English when I ask them to do so. After that we just walked around Siegen to do some exploring then we slept at Miriam’s place because we had to leave very early the next day to go to the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Tuesday 9th of August
We came together at almost 6:30 to leave to Weimar. It took us almost 4 hours to arrive, we took a tour with an American guide around the concentration camp. The tour began with showing us the Buchenwald concentration camp map and the interesting part of it was that it had a zoo. We asked about the reason of having a zoo in such a place, she answered that it’s for the entertainment of the officers?!
The concentration camp was to remove ‘unworthy’ people from the community – Jews, political opponents, homosexuals and the homeless all fell into this classification as we have been told. We moved to see the Detention cell building and it was very unsurprising as it was very similar to the Israeli prisons in Palestine, a regular site to the eyes of the Palestinians. It was an intense moment for both Palestinians and Germans. After that we moved to see other buildings, amongst them the crematorium with ovens. It made me think of the number of stories and dreams that got burned in them and how uniquely evil the Holocaust was.
As a Palestinian and in the spot of the moment when I saw the ovens and the images of the burning bodies, it made me instantly think of 31 July 2015, when a Jewish settler attacked a Palestinian family home, which resulted in the loss of life of three of the family members; one was the 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh who was burned alive in the fire. One would argue that it is wrong to be comparing? But I am not writing to compare, I am writing because that’s how I got related. We took a walk around and we saw the Canteen building and the watch tower One of my first questions was “How is that a watchtower?!!!!”
As a Palestinian, the image of a watchtower is different and as a result I took the responsibility to analyse that this watchtower might have been built to imitate or frighten the prisoners and not actually to watch them because logically if they were built to actually watch than they would be rather inefficient because of their size. After the tour around the camp, a feeling of numbness was there. I have seen prisons (I am actually living in a large one) and I have seen fences and towers. The feelings and the reactions which us Palestinians got after visiting the camp are different than any other visitor from any other country. We are still living in our own fire and we are still burning everyday by the fences, walls, guns, prisoners, clashes, “the ID system”, Israeli settlements, separate roads, military checkpoints, marriage law, the West Bank barrier, use of Palestinians as cheap labourers, Palestinian West Bank exclaves, inequities in infrastructure, legal rights, and access to land and resources”. Maybe visiting the camp has sort of reminded me of what we are still living, the violation of the human rights, the SURVIVAL IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD.