About Sound in the Silence 2012

    8-15 September 2012, Borne Sulinowo / Groß Born and Koszalin

    Students from Koszalin and Hamburg, who in September 2011 took part in a workshop organised in the Place of Remembrance at the Neuengamme concentration camp (Hamburg), are this year meeting in Borne Sulinowo (former military camp) in Poland to seek an answer to the following question: “What does the past have in common with the present and my own history?”

    Such a place was chosen because its location, remarkable history and proximity to the hometown of the Polish students make it possible to attain a particularly Polish insight into the past. It brings a forgotten history to German students’ minds as well. And, by viewing it from a Polish perspective, the possibility of gaining a European point of view was created.

    On the one hand, it served the German armed forces, as both a military training ground and partially as a prisoner-of-war camp during the Second World War until it was liberated by the Red Army. On the other hand, until 1992 it was used by the Soviet Army as a garrison base. Thereafter, it fell into ruin and was later rebuilt, as a Polish place of remembrance and a town.

    Borne Sulinowo

    Borne Sulinowo is a place that combines German, Polish, Soviet, and Russian history of the region. Borne Sulinowo, known as Great Born/Pomerania until 1945, had been a German military training area since the end of the First World War. The National Socialists expanded the training area and deployed German Wehrmacht troops. During the Second World War, Polish, French and Soviet soldiers were held prisoner here and subsequently killed. Borne Sulinowo was a Soviet army garrison town from 1945 and 1991 that was subsequently taken over by Russian Republic and run by the Russian army until 1992. Only after the withdrawal of the army, the former military restricted zone was open to civilians. Construction on a new town in Borne Sulinowo began in 1993.

    The old and new Borne Sulinowo is visible at many locations. Ruins, wastelands, memorials and converted architecture bear witness to a turbulent past. The students faced the history of three sites: the remains of the prisoner of war camp and a memorial, the ruins of a former German officers’ mess and a former housing complex of Soviet army personnel. Based on the history of these sites, the students developed their ideas and their implementation in the respective workshops. The students were especially moved when Dariusz Czerniawski, director of the memorial site in Borne Sulinowo, read them a letter written by a Polish officer to his fourteen-year-old son. The letter, written in 1944, finally reached its intended recipient in 2005. After tedious research, Dariusz Czerniawski was able to identify the son and forward the letter after so many years. Today this letter is a precious document of the memorial site. Its content and the fate of the persons concerned became a key theme for the workshops and the presentation.

    The Memorial Site of Borne Sulinowo:

    In the Woods
    This site contained prisoner of war camps that were located around 14 kilometers away from Borne Sulinowo. The foundations of the barracks buildings are overgrown. On these grounds, the German Wehrmacht murdered 11,000 Soviet prisoners. Birch wood crosses are reminders of this site’s tragic past.

    The Ghost Town
    This is where members of the Soviet army lived after 1945. Except for a few houses, the settlement has been demolished. It tells the history of the liberators/occupiers. This formerly off-limits area became accessible to the civilian population in 1993.

    The Officers’ Mess
    With a view onto the lake, the generously designed officers’ mess (Common House and Dining Hall for the Officers) had a special location. A fire destroyed the vacant officers‘ mess a few years ago. The ruins of the officers’ mess are still impressive; the view onto the lake and onto the woods calls forth associations of castle grounds.

    Workshops

    The sites inspire the youth to create their own imagery. Coming to terms with the past and with one’s own concerns is expressed through artistic forms.

    Vocal workshop
    In the beginning, the girls of the vocal group wanted to sing a love song in English. Based on the story of the letter of the Polish officer, they developed a song with several verses in Polish, English and Spanish. And the lyrics told about the love of the father for his son:

    A strange cold wind / blows through the forest of the night / The coming and going of things / leaves an emptiness inside
    The leaves of the trees / Hide the letter of a father to his son / Taking us back to the time / Where it all has begun
    The ghost is gaining back his voice / So even the stars can hear / When he is calling out to his son / With no fear

    Dance workshops in officer's mess
    Conversations and warm-ups took place before they move to the sites where they continue their work. The dance group and theater group practice their pieces in the ruins of the officers’ mess, right next to the music groups that also chose a location in the officers‘ mess to get inspired by a site.

    Film workshops
    The film group leaves to begin shooting. The students are inspired by the sites. They learn that they need to transform the images viewed in the camera shot. This is how collages originate at the different sites. The cut of the material again requires a different form of concentration. The youth shoot different film sequences in the woods, the ghost town and the officers’ mess. The collage of the footage is projected as part of the joint performance. For some shots, they record live music in the officers’ mess and combine it with original sounds of the sites. This is how a collage of atmospheric dense film sequences develops.

    People involved

    Artists:

    Jens Huckeriede † (Film, artistic director)
    Dorothee Carl (film editing on-site)
    Olaf Pyras (composer and drummer)
    Kijoka Junica (singer, songwriter) (Ines, vocals)
    Marta Łuczków (dancer from Koszalin)
    Tadeusz Ratuszniak (actor of the Helena Modrzejewska Theatre in Legnica and Polish Theatre of Wrocław)

    Team / caretakers:

    Prof. Dorothee Barth (music teacher, Altona Junior Hugh School, Hamburg)
    Aleksandra Klukowska (German teacher, Fr. Jan Twardowski School No 11, Koszalin, Poland)
    Michael Wendt (Project general manager, MOTTE)
    Griet Gäthke (project management, language documentation, MOTTE)
    Christian Find (Feature Produktion, Berlin)
    Johannes Kubin (video diary, apprentice, Hamburg)

    Read about the project

    Sound in the Silence is a way to find a new way of looking at the history of Europe, of our nations, states, regions and of transferring the past into our present lives.


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