Translated by Sandra van Lente, 2015
The play “The breathing wall” deals with the story of little Solitarius and his father Patrem. In a setting that reminds the audience of a concentration camp, father and son experience violence, separation and ultimately: death. A reading of the play with the author and actor Yannick Reimers is available for schools, commemoration days and memorial places as well as for special occasions. The story is not only read, but also acted out. The musician Karla Feles accompanies Yannick Reimers on the accordion.
The reading is an emotional mediator for situations of remembrance and commemoration. In addition, it also helps to encourage empathy and understanding when it comes to discrimination in general. It can help to create an awareness for mechanisms of discrimination and the consequences of xenophobia in the worst case.
The reading takes approximately 25 minutes.
“I had the idea to create a memory and put a stumbling block in the way of neo-Nazism after an attack during the official opening of a memorial site for forced labourers next to the CCB-Centre on 21 September 2012 in Bergedorf. I was a guest at the inauguration and heard the speech of the head of the district authority, Arne Dornquast, during which he welcomed ten former forced labourers under the NS regime. Back then, they were forced to work and live in a chair factory. In 2012, they were invited by the city of Hamburg to participate in the opening event and thus create a “sign of reconciliation”. All of a sudden, a man in a black leather coat appeared and attacked the Polish guests of honour with tear gas. The police intervened immediately and arrested the man. The injured people were taken to a hospital. I got away with a cough and a shock.
I had to think about this situation many times afterwards. I relived the horror through the newspaper coverage and posted a picture with a comment of my outrage on facebook. The artist who created the memorial, Jan de Weryha, came across this picture and made contact. We exchanged our thoughts about the event and he invited me to his studio, where we talked about his life and his work. I was very impressed by his projects against National Socialism.
The exclusion, hostility and violence that those (neo-Nazi) people cause has always troubled me. The memory of the attack, Jan de Weryha’s works and our discussions have sparked in me the wish to do something against neo-Nazism and set a sign against discrimination.”
Photo by Jonas Diercks
„It is important for me to make a stand against discrimination, marginalisation and violence. This includes past crimes as well as contemporary ones. For me, stories are a very powerful ways to make readers and listeners empathise with others who are marginalised and who suffer from violence. Stories can help to make people aware of the mechanisms and effects of all kinds of marginalisation and violence.
To create this empathy, different approaches work for different people, obviously. One person might prefer reading books in order to identify with its protagonists, others might access a topic through music and we might be able to address another group of people with theatre plays.
This is why I translated the play: I wanted to contribute to this peace project and help Yannick Reimers and Karla Feles to bring the play to people who prefer to be addressed in English.“
Sandra van Lente