The German Kulmhof Death Camp in Chełmno on Ner was the first instant mass extermination centre for Jewish in Warthegau. It was opened in December 1941 and operated over two periods until 1945. The most probable number of murdered people there is approximately 200,000.
The mission of the Museum in Chełmno is to cultivate the memory of this place. It operates for historical education about the extermination of the Jews and the Roma during the Second World War, preserving the relics and documenting the history of the death camp.
This year an international workcamp was organized in Chełmno for the first time. Though in last years SCI Poland (Stowarzyszenie Jeden Świat) has organized workcamps in similar memory sites, for example in the concentration camp Majdanek in Lublin (10 times) and in Nazi work camp in Żabikowo near Poznań (10 times). We could use these experiences to get inspiration for the project in Chełmno.
In August 10 volunteers from Ireland, Spain, USA, Poland, Czech Republic, Taiwan, Switzerland and Italy joined the project. Everyone was keenly interested in the content of workcamp.
During 2 weeks we dealt primarily with cleaning and cataloguing items that prisoners found in pits that the Nazis dug to throw things considered unnecessary. Work went very quickly, and volunteers cleaned 2,000 objects instead of projected 500. We also had a chance to spend one day in Lodz, where we visited Jewish cemetery, the old ghetto and the Radegast station.
Every day we were gaining a lot of knowledge about violence and genocide during WWII – so we could see how much peace is worth.
Participants were satisfied about the project. They liked the work we did and although we managed to clean 4 times (!) more artefacts that it had been planned, they said they could have done even more.