There is a street dedicated to Raoul Wallenberg in the Marzahn District in Berlin, but until last year many people living there did not know about Wallenberg’s heroic mission to save human lives during the Holocaust. It was not until several students and teachers of the Rudolf Virchow High School started a pilot project about the Swedish diplomat that people learned about his deeds. As Carola Parchmann, one of the students, pointed out, ”we decided to dedicate ourselves to spreading the popularity of Raoul Wallenberg, his work and the work of his supporters, in our environment because only a few seem to know his mysterious story.”
In Budapest, the Rudolf Virchow High School joined Kontyfa High School in a partnership aimed at achieving the project’s goals. So far, the two schools have begun work on two vernissages to take place in both cities. Initiatives include the creation new memorials for Wallenberg in Berlin and the showcase of pictures taken during the group’s visits to Auschwitz, Birkenau, Ravensbrück, Sachsenhausen, Krakau and Budapest. Ms. Parchmann is also planning on creating a separate black room in the vernissage to exhibit a slide show and an audio installation of her impressions through the visits. The project also involves a film of student’s interviews with people close to the diplomat, such as Éva Wimmer, Wallenberg’s secretary and translator.
Ultimately, the students hope to educate people about Raoul Wallenberg and to gain more attention for his actions during the war. As Ms. Parchmann states, ”Wallenebrg does not get enough honor in German society,” fact that the students are trying to change. Ms. Parchmann also talks about a sense of responsibility and is fully committed to the subject and is committed to, ”I am willing to show others that our generation cares and is not ignorant towards history as it is told in the media. Young Germans, like our group, are willing to deal with this difficult time and we know that we are responsible for the next generations to show / tell them what happened and we want to make sure that [the Holocaust] will never happen again.”
With more educational programs like those being implemented by these schools and their teachers, students like Carola Parchmann can make a difference in their societies and help us make sure that history does not repeat itself.