Montag, 22. Juli 2019
Remember: act normal - peacecamp 2019 in Lackenhof

Remember: act normal
peacecamp 2019 in Lackenhof

show4peace in Vienna’s theatre Dschungel was introduced by a video message from Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen who congratulated the pupils of four different nations to have started their summer vacation with reflexions on serious matters – the question why there is so much violence in the world and how this could be halted.

After that, in the total obscurity of the hall, invisible teenagers counted 1-2-3-... 31, to make sure that everybody was there to show what peacecamp 2019 had been; with them, twelve adults, amongst them actress Anna-Sophie Fritz and hobby musician Lukas Hauptfeld, a nearly graduate of medical school, stars of the peacecamp. They had worked with the teenagers on creative translations of the title of this year’s peacecamp: “becoming an ambassador of peace”. They had challenged them with “mission impossible tasks” and developed a show composed of choreography, music and statements made by the pupils during their ten days’ encounter.

What they showed was indeed impressive, as a sense of togetherness had evolved in only eight days amongst formerly total strangers. In these days the teenagers had explored and shared their personal and family histories, as they had evolved in the context of their nations’ histories of war, violence, expatriation, persecution and migration. They reached awareness of the importance of learning about the past in order to be able to leave it behind, and to look forward onto the future – a future which would not be governed by the wish to retaliate, but by compassion, empathy and cooperation, so that something new could evolve, something new they themselves would help to create.

The talks4peace workshop, facilitated by social workers Lia Böhmer and Helmut Gruber, allowed the young to share and juxtapose different narratives of their respective histories, to argue and debate about the question of truth in historical fact finding, and of the way in which information is communicated and passed on by the media or the history books of each group and nation. A thrilling exercise, in which the teenagers were to act as journalists, made the distortions tangible by which biased facts are being reported as an attempt to “sell” a story or to meet the expectations of its listeners or readers. In another exercise the teenagers could experience how the races of life have unequal starting conditions for different groups and people and that winning these races is not only the result of a person’s own striving, ambition or power, but determined by what each of us “inherits” from our families.

The daily psychoanalytic Large Group, led by group analyst Thomas Jung, was a great opportunity to explore unconscious feelings and motives which often stand in the way to a more peaceful relationship with ourselves and others. At the end of this the group gave a remarkable demonstration of non-violent civil disobedience, opposing the group leader’s authority in solidary silence, refusing to “give” him what he requested, if he did not give them what they wanted from him.

peacecamp 2019 was indeed a memorable experience for all participants, young and adults.

As a young participant put it
“... this opportunity and this experience ... (were) by far the best days of my life.
The idea of bringing such different kids from many cultures together for ten days, to talk about the problems we are facing and how to solve them, is an idea that you should be proud of every day ...
Thank you so much for giving us the chance to be a part of something so special and amazing.”

Videomessage of president Alexander Van der Bellen:

Article in „Kurier”:

peacecamp film:


Evelyn Böhmer-Laufer
July 21st, 2019