Sabrina supports former children in care in coming to terms with their past

The largest children's home in the GDR, the A. S. Makarenko children's home, was located in Königsheide. Thousands of children grew up here - without their parents. Sabrina goes in search of clues. At the Königsheider Eichhörnchen e.V. and at the Königsheide Information and Meeting Centre (IBZ) at the historical site, she is working on the history of the home and bringing families back together.

© Ronald Schirrmacher
[Translate to English:]

Actually, my hobby was genealogy and through an acquaintance who had lived here in the children's home and asked me if I would help her trace her family of origin. That's how it started - that was in 2005 and in May 2006, I was in the Königsheide myself for the first time and since then actually very very regularly, several days a week and I now often feel myself as if I grew up here.

We have about 25 volunteers at the IBZ Königsheide, who we recruited through various volunteer services and volunteer exchanges. And they are really great people and without them we would not be nearly as far along as we are. I and my colleague, Ms Grimm, run the information and meeting centre here in Königsheide and do everything that has to do with coming to terms with the history of the home. But not only for this children's home, but for children's homes in the GDR in general. It starts with various research projects, continues with very emotional stories, people looking for their siblings, their parents, family reunions, up to a regular programme of events, historical guided tours, we issue publications, do project seminars at universities, have school projects - in other words, we have a very wide range of activities in the meantime.

Of course it's nice when you can bring the family together again, when you find siblings and realise that relationships develop that were broken off for years because of the stay at the home. Of course, the most beautiful events are when we manage to mend things that were broken at some point in the past. But that doesn't mean that it always has to be successful.

„One should never give up. So there is always a solution, even if it sometimes takes a while.“


But I've also had one experience over the years: even if something doesn't progress in a certain direction for a year or two, at some point a small piece of the puzzle comes along that makes things move forward again. I also have days when I despair and think, "Oh no, why are you doing all this anyway?" And then something happens again that motivates me to keep going. You also get a lot back from people. Not in money or anything, but in human gratitude. Friendships have also developed that I wouldn't want to miss.

At the moment, the biggest challenges are the empty coffers, especially because of Corona. So money is always a problem. But often there are also stories that you sometimes have to manage the many emotions that are also connected with this topic, so that not everything always works out. We often have very tearful conversations, where afterwards you have to see for yourself: "How do you cope with all this information? It's good that we have such a good team and can exchange information.

All over the world there are children who live or lived in homes and who have a similar fate. We have a particularly close connection to Hungary. Since 1958, there has been a cooperation with the children's town of Fót, which we have revived somewhat since 2013 and where we regularly travel and support the institutions with donations in kind. Home education" is a marginal topic in society and it is interesting to see how other countries deal with it and it is always very interesting and important to find an exchange.

This portrait is from the competition "Gestalter:innen der Zivilgesellschaft" ("Shapers of Civil Society") of the Landesfreiwilligenagentur Berlin e.V. of the Landesnetzwerks Bürgerengagement Berlin. The competition was intended to draw attention to all those shapers of civil society in Berlin who are not yet so well known and have not yet received awards. It is precisely they who are to be honored for their special commitment. Five pioneers and implementers of humanity and public welfare were honored. The criteria were: Achieving commitment - Driving forward integrative action - Promoting inclusion and diversity - Acting transparently and responsibly - Achieving effectiveness - Incorporating European values - Being a role model and instigator. The winners of the competition were announced during the 11th Berlin Commitment Week in September. Senator Elke Breitenbach was the patron of the competition.

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