Train of Remembrance Journey

The ETF (European Transport Workers' Federation) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) organized a unique educational trip for young trade unionists to learn about the history of the Holocaust, analyze present-day events, and foster a new generation of leaders committed to building democracy and protecting human rights.

Active members of the MTWTU Youth Council enthusiastically joined the event.

The trip began with a meeting at the Prague train station in the Czech Republic, where a panel discussion was held on the strategies of trade unions and civil society to promote inclusive communities and counter far-right authoritarianism. According to statistics, far-right forces are currently increasing their potential to weaken democracy, normalize hatred, and cause countries to collapse. Therefore, the priority should be expanding human rights and democracy, considering other parties' opinions, the principle of consensus, etc.

ETF Secretary General Livia Spera summarized that the percentage of the far right is multiplying, so it is essential to prevent them from usurping power, as this will lead to the destruction of democracy and all moral and ethical views.

At the Prague train station, they also visited the statue of Sir Nicholas Winton, who, on the eve of World War II, organized the rescue of 669 children (mainly of Jewish origin) aged 2 to 17 from German-occupied Czechoslovakia. This encounter with history reminded us that heroes and do-gooders are among us, even in the darkest times.

A special note was made about today's realities: helping Ukrainians who, fleeing the war, spent nights at the Prague train station and platforms.

From the Prague train station, we travelled to the Polish city of Auschwitz. On the way, we talked about the Righteous Among the Nations (who rescued Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II), the causes of the Holocaust, and its consequences. An interesting question was raised about the deeds of the people who carried out the torture and transportation of innocent people and whether they could have avoided doing so.

Upon arrival in Poland, we watched the historical war movie "Zone of Interest". Set during World War II, the movie tells the story of the commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp who tries to build his dream house next to the camp. The commandant and his family are living their usual happy life when, behind the fence, they hear the sound of crematoria with smoke, blows, sobs, gunfire, screams, and barking dogs.

The next day, we attended the German Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz, where evidence of Nazi crimes has been preserved. Entering through the gates of the concentration camp with the cynical inscription "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work makes you free"), you realize that most of those who went through it during World War II never left it. There are exhibitions with thousands of boots, mountains of suitcases, glasses, and brushes that belonged to the victims. The exposition with two tones of hair - the hair of people who were shaved and sent to their deaths - evoked strong emotions.

The ETF President Frank Moreels emphasized that trade unions must continue to work actively, protect workers and their rights, and stand together and resist, just as they did in the last century.

The Train of Remembrance Journey reminded us of who we are and how we can shape our tomorrows, especially as the war continues in Ukraine. It is important to fight for justice and dignity for everyone because only by doing so can we build a free and prosperous country.

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