The ecumenical volunteer organization SERVITUS was founded in May 2003 by representatives of Protestant Churches, the Jewish community, Caritas and Diakonia. Therefore, in April this year it celebrates its 10th anniversary as well as ten years of close collaboration with the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP).
Not only will current and former volunteers of the last ten years come to České Budějovice, there will also be people who have been involved during the past fifty years in running ARSP summer camps and maintaining the persistently neglected Jewish cemeteries. But the meeting in České Budějovice will not only be for remembering the past it will also be a meeting of those who have spent a year of their life as a volunteer in Bohemia and Moravia.
Thematically we want to address the question of what impact family history has on the life of the second and third generation, i.e. the children and grandchildren of those who experienced World War II. Soon they will be the only bearers of the stories of their parents and grandparents. We will talk to descendants of Jewish and Roma families, the granddaughter of a woman from Lidice and the son of a deported Sudeten German. We will ask: “How can we preserve the experiences of survivors and pass it on to future generations?” “What impact do these experiences, at the time of the German occupation (and the time following it), have on present life in the Czech Republic and Germany?” “What is the impact of the past on our current relationships?” And, “what consequences for our political and social actions do we draw from them?” How current all these questions are was surprisingly shown during the last electoral campaign for the presidency. We want our meeting, entitled "Living History - The memory of the second and third generation", to give room to authentic stories and space for discussions. We do not expect easy answers, but that is also not our goal.
In the second part of the program it will be possible to discuss, in small groups, specific initiatives and issues such as; the preservation of the Jewish cemetery in the town of Drmoul, the role of Lidice in the memory of our country, a former German estate converted to a cultural center in the border region, or the stories of different generations of volunteers.
On Sunday, we will conclude the meeting with a Church service in the Protestant ECCB parish in České Budějovice.
Stanislava Francesca Šimuniová
ARSP Representative for the Czech Republic