Narrative and Encounter Café for Nazi Victims in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Münster
The project of the Narrative and Encounter Cafés for victims of Nazi persecution is aimed at the survivors of the Nazi regime as well as adolescents, young adults, teachers, educators and other interested people. It is divided into non-public Encounter Cafés, in which those formerly persecuted by the Nazis meet in order to exchange their ideas and experiences, and into public Narrative Cafés where survivors talk to school classes or youth groups about their unique fate and persecution history. These Café events take place in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Münster and are open to all victims of National Socialism regardless of their background of persecution.
The project of Narrative and Encounter Cafés was developed by the “Bundesverband” in order to improve the lives of the survivors of the Nazi tyranny. A special feature of this, so far, unique project in Germany is that the Café events are aimed at all victims of Nazism, and not just open to a particular group. The project is divided into non-public Encounter Cafés and public Narrative Cafés.
In the protected area of the Encounter Cafés, victims of National Socialism meet in order to share ideas and common experiences with each other over a cup of coffee and cake. Meeting with those who have had similar experiences, helps the often severely traumatized victims of Nazi persecution to deal with their painful memories in a better way. For those affected by Nazi terror, the relationship of trust with the staff and the volunteers of the “Bundesverband” is just as important as the sharing with each other. They take care of the concerns and needs of the survivors and advise and inform them with regard to issues in the field of elderly care and nursing. In addition, the “Bundesverband” also provides advice on, for example, to what extent compensation due to persecution by the Nazis is still possible.
Moreover, in the Encounter Café, lively cultural exchange takes place since many of the participants have an immigrant background, among them, in particular, the so-called "quota refugees" from the former Soviet Union. For the victims of Nazi persecution with a migratory background, integration and participation into local society is encouraged through their participation in the Cafés, where people can talk about cultural and political issues and receive opportunities for further help and guidance. For the survivors, meeting in the Encounter Café has become an important part of their lives, as the regularly scheduled appointment provides important social contacts for senior citizens who, because of the fate they have suffered, often live an otherwise very lonely life. The Café thus helps, in a very lasting way, to counteract the increasing isolation of those affected by persecution. Unlike the Encounter Café, the Narrative Café is public. Anyone interested can attend the meetings that are held several times a year. In the Narrative Cafés, survivors talk to school classes or youth groups about their persecution history. Through the direct contact and encounter with the contemporary witnesses, the young people get to know the terror of National Socialism from a personal perspective. Based on their own history, the survivors are able to convey to the young adults what "being tracked down" means and how important it is to grow up and live in a democracy. Often, after the lecture, very intense discussions between the victims of Nazi persecution and the youth develop so that the Narrative Café for students becomes sort of like a "living history lesson." Thereby, the Narrative Café provides an important contribution to the prevention of right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia.
The Narrative and Encounter Cafés are ongoing projects in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Münster. The meetings take place at key locations in the respective cities so that they are easily accessible, both for those affected by persecution and for those who are interested in their fate. For a schedule of the upcoming Narrative and Encounter Cafés, please go to "Events and Appointments".