In 2018, the Bundesverband Information & Beratung für NS-Verfolgte e. V. (Federal Association Information and Advice for Survivors of Nazi Persecution) initiated two international working groups. The participating experts discussed historico-political education and psychosocial issues in relation to the work of and to working with descendants of people persecuted by the National Socialists for different reasons.
The working groups discussed the specific needs of descendants and their role as a driving force for a participatory, democratic remembrance culture. With the present declaration, we call upon (political) decision-makers and multipliers to support the common objectives derived in this context.
We, the undersigned, are convinced that the descendants of survivors of Nazi persecution make an important contribution towards understanding transgenerational transmission of trauma. They give important impetus to creating remembrance culture and socio-political programmes promoting an open, democratic and pluralistic society. Their perspective is vital to debates relevant to the present and they should be supported in developing and implementing programmes that draw on the authentic experiences made by survivors and their descendants.
Together with the survivors, their descendants have been advocating the coming to terms with Nazi crimes and the honouring of persecution stories since the 1960s. Thus, they make a significant socio-political contribution. Descendants give important impetus to historico-political education through their family history. Offering their personal experiences, they are intermediaries between the past and the future. They must be empowered in order to appreciate their work and to have their perspectives reflected in decisions concerning politics of remembrance:
• Descendants must be recognised as witnesses of their own history. Their experiences are crucial in analysing socio-political developments since the end of the Second World War.
• It is required to support and promote the participation of descendants in debates relevant to the present for their voices to be heard.
• On an international level, it is required to support descendants (and descendant intiatives) wishing to participate in remembrance culture.
Descendants in different countries express their need for support in coming to terms with their family history. One of the reasons for this is that many of them are affected by transgenerational transmission of trauma. Up to now, there is a lack of support that caters to their specific needs:
• Support must be provided to those who seek help.
• It is necessary to create psychosocial services for descendants of survivors of Nazi persecution.
Social and political participation of descendants must be supported. Some descendants are affected by some kind of group-focused enmity:
• Continuities of discrimination must be identified and overcome.
In general, politicians and society must recognise that the fate of the victims of Nazi persecution has affected the lives of their children and grandchildren and still does so to this day.
Together with the undersigned, the Federal Association Information and Advice for Survivors of Nazi Persecution promotes the interests of all survivors of Nazi persecution and their descendants.