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With different eyes

Since Rachel Bryant from the USA has been working in Buchenwald, she knows people need places of remembrance.

© Stephan Pramme - Rachel Bryant

“One of the worst places here in Buchenwald is the former crematorium. The rooms are filled with a great silence, because visitors are requested to speak very quietly. When I started my voluntary service, I couldn’t quite understand why this should be. For me the whole of Buchenwald is a place of terrible suffering. I felt the rules at the crematorium were like an instruction to feel greater em­pathy here than perhaps in other places.

But now, through my work, I recognise that people need physical places to remember the victims. Before I arrived here, I had no personal connections with the Holocaust, and I first had to learn that there are people who have different associations. I had to learn that a visitor from Libya might see the pictures of heaped corpses with very different eyes, because he may have seen such 
images in the present. This link with the 
present is important to me. I ask myself how I can help people to learn from the past and prevent violations of human rights. I hope 
to find an answer soon.” ■


After completing a degree in American studies in her home town of Saint Louis, USA, and spending some time in New York, Rachel Bryant, 24, decided to do voluntary service with the Action Recon­ciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) at the former Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar. She has been working here since autumn 2013. Her duties include guiding visitors round the 
memorial. Before its liberation in April 1945, the camp held more than 250,000 prisoners from more than 50 nations. About 56,000 prisoners were killed. Permanent exhibitions inform 
visitors about the history. The photograph shows Rachel outside the former concentration camp.

Text: Clara Görtz, Helen Sibum; photograph: Stephan Pramme