Anja Ballis: Tours – Learning Through Encounter
For many years I have engaged in holocaust education and the advocating of witness literature in schools and post-secondary education. Anne Frank and Sophie Scholl have always been an inspiration to me. Their lives were recounted in "Pioniere des Friedens" (pioneers of peace), the book that I read in my youth that initiated this inspiration. For a long time the behaviors of these women were my moral compass. My perspective was further broadened by reading David Ben-Dor’s "Die schwarze Mütze" (The black hat); where a holocaust survivor discusses questions of perpetration and guilt. It was brutally honest, impressive and related to both the present and the future.
The following picture illustrates my current point of few:
Private photograph, taken October 2016
After spending many years researching holocaust testimony literature, I expanded my research focus. My project focuses on tour guides in concentration camp sites and museums. The most interesting part of the project is learning about peoples’ instantaneous thoughts on the central questions of humanity when visiting the museum or concentration camp. Moreover, I observe the tour guides, interview them and learn about their education. After visiting United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, I have also been interested in survivor guides. I am particularly interested in combining survivor guides with a written or video report.
From this data I hope to create parts of a mediation theory. The mediation theory will answer the following questions: Which personal, content-regarding and emotional connections/bonds are created between participators and/or objects during the tour? Which opportunities arise for didactics of instantaneous thoughts?