By bridging the gap between National Socialism and Soviet legacy, the "PodLabs" project addresses this subject through a creative series of podcasts in Germany and Georgia. Young professionals from both countries have been dealing with the past during their visits to Erfurt and Tbilisi this year and shared their perspectives on their national historical backgrounds.
The challenging part was the difference in the level of knowledge. "Whereas German participants knew much more about National Socialism, the Georgian group were more familiar with the history of the Soviet era", said Felix Weiss, Project Coordinator of Georgian Organization DRONI. "The difference emerged especially when it came to abstract topics such as nationalism. The German perspective suggests that nationalism and the nation-state idea emerged in the 19th century, while the Georgian perspective suggests that it was only developed in the past hundred years". The same was relevant for the discussion on the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Even though the young people from Georgia were born after 1991, "they are much closer to the subject as it directly affected their families, while the Germans see it as something abstract", added Felix Weiss.
Together with the German partner organization "Arbeit und Leben Thüringen e.V." (engl. Work and Life Thuringia) DRONI organized workshops that combined the topics of youth participation and culture of remembrance. Young people with little or no experience in radio journalism did their own research, conducted interviews, and produced 7 episodes of podcast series in English, which were broadcasted by the F.R.E.I. radio station in Erfurt, Germany. For instance, there are conversations about collective memories or remains of Soviet times in Georgia. For example, they discussed the physical remnants or shared recollections of the Soviet era in Georgia.
"Podlabs" fostered productive binational cooperation, wherein participants discussed historical topics from their own perspectives and shared their own insights.
Listen to the other episodes now
"PodLabs" is a joint project of Arbeit und Leben Thüringen e.V. (engl. Work and Life Thuringia) and the Georgian youth organization DRONI and is implemented together with Radio F.R.E.I.. It is funded by the Foundation "Remembrance Responsibility Future" (EVZ) and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (2023).
Felix Weiss, 37, holds a master’s degree in European Studies at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder. In 2016, he moved to Georgia to start the European Voluntary Service (now European Solidarity Corps) with the youth organization "DRONI". He spent one year in Tbilisi and continued to work for DRONI on a permanent freelance basis. In 2018-2022, he worked as a German teacher in a Georgian private school, and then continued his career as a project coordinator and coach at DRONI.
Johannes Kemnitz has been in charge of civic youth education at Arbeit und Leben Thüringen for over 10 years. International youth projects are particularly important to him because young people get the chance to learn about other perspectives, lifestyles, and political concepts. In recent years, the organization has managed to organize meetings with young people from Algeria, Georgia, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine.
Written by Olga Dietze