|Katharina Dillman: Don’t Give up – try
Katharina Dillman: Nicht Verzagen – Nochmal Wagen!
"Katharina Dillman: Don’t Give up – try Again!" Volk auf dem Weg, November 1993, 11.
Translation from German to English by Ingeborg Wallner
Smith, Western Springs, Illinois
Our Youth organization – the “Russia-German Youth –
RGY” is a child of the Landsmannschaft of the Germans from Russia.
It was founded on May 3rd and 4th, 1991 as a separate organization
within the Landsmannschaft. Its head, in accordance with its articles
of incorporation, is a member of the nine member national Board of
Directors of our Landsmannschaft.
The RGY was united in the feeling that youth work can be activated
within our organization.
They did not realize, however, that the Landsmannschaft was financially
not well off enough to fulfill all of their wishes.
That is, however, not the reason that not all projects were carried
out. Self-critically, one must admit that bad organization, inadequate
information and insufficient contacts with the youth groups were
a part of this. Individual youth groups have filled this vacuum
by means of youth work without the support of the RGY leadership.
In summary one can say, that we have not achieved our set goals.
That does not mean, that we have not achieved anything. Above all,
we have gained more knowledge.
The Russian-German Youth had the courage to try and today we know
that there are enough reasons to try again.
What are the reasons?
40% of all resettlers are between the ages of 14 to 27. (The exact
resettler statistics for 1992 are as follows: 0 to 5 years –
10.6%; 6 to 17 years – 24.6%; 18 to 24 years – 8.9%;
25 to 44 years – 31.4%; 45 to 59 years – 10.6%; 60 and
over – 11.2%. (Editor’s note).
Children and young people, however, are subject to great strains
both before and shortly after the emigration; they have little to
say in the decision about leaving, sometimes nothing at all. For
them it means giving up connection and leaving friends behind. They
are homesick, even though many members of the older generation,
who are still suffering from the shock of the bad memories of the
time of their banishment, do not wish to admit that.
In addition the academic or professional education that they bring
with them may be worthless in Germany.
But this will mean a worsening of their social standing.
Separation from the old and coping with the new – both must
be worked through mentally and emotionally.
A xenophobia that is often brought against them too (out of fascists
that they weren’t, become Russians that they aren’t!),
produces an isolation.
One wants to stay among one’s own, to be left alone. Aggressive
Isolation and coldness become their constant companions.
They need our help.
They need our support.
It is not our goal as it is sometimes interpreted, to isolate ourselves
from out native youth. No! Our goal is much more to help our youth
get a foothold here in the new homeland.
Not every form of integration can be regulated or prescribed by
the state. It is more often produced through encounters, common
experiences and actions of native and Russian-German young people.
Unfortunately most of the time everything falls apart because of
the mutual prejudices. Here we see a large task for public relations,
to break down these prejudices through information and meetings.
We must learn to be able to show ourselves as we are. There are
enough examples of young people who take a positive stand towards
In the shape and possibilities of our work with youth, we must
be clear that youth work within the Landsmannschaft is a kind of
leisure occupation for youth, to be compared to cultural work for
all of those who love their national group.
Above all work with youth must be fun. It cannot be masterminded.
We should not be afraid to stumble again. We should realize instead,
that we would have got over the hurdle had we been prepared to try
Today we are prepared to do this.
Our appreciation is extended to Ingeborg Smith for
translation of this article.