"I come from Wolfsburg, I grew up and went to school here. This is where my family and friends are at home," says Pamela Appiah, smiling. Her parents both come from Ghana, where she was also born. Her father came to Germany 25 years ago and her mother 17 years ago. The 21-year-old is now completing an apprenticeship as a specialist in office management with Volkswagen. She is currently in the midst of her final examinations.
In the summer, Pamela spent two weeks working on the maintenance of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Site near Oświęcim in Poland together with other apprentices and Polish vocational school students. She talked about the people she met, and the impressions and experiences she gained at the opening of the exhibition "Eine deutliche Spur" in Berlin on Wednesday, November 29. With this exhibition, the Volkswagen Group and the International Auschwitz Committee (IAC) are honoring 30 years of Memorial Site work in Auschwitz.
For Pamela, it is important that apprentices should contribute their knowledge and skills to preserve the Auschwitz Memorial Site. "However, we are also responsible for a culture of remembrance," says the young woman from Wolfsburg. "We must pass the truth about Auschwitz, the Holocaust and the millions of victims of the Nazi regime down through the generations and keep remembrance alive."
At the youth meetings in Poland, young people from Germany and Poland also meet survivors of Auschwitz. "These are very special moments and conversations which are becoming increasingly rare and precious as we lose more and more contemporary witnesses," says Pamela, remembering a conversation with Roman Kent, IAC President from the USA. "I will never forget how Roman Kent told us he hoped that his past would not be the future of his grandchildren – it was clear to me that his hopes were my mission."
This is why she talks to friends and family members as well as other students at the vocational school and colleagues on her apprenticeship and in the office about what she found particularly moving at Auschwitz and what she experienced there. Pamela: "I hope that we will have a future where there is no space for exclusion, discrimination or xenophobia."
About 1.5 million people were murdered by the Nazi regime at Auschwitz concentration camp and the extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Red Army liberated the few survivors on January 27, 1945.