Chelmno has been maintaining intense international contacts, the result of which is a partnership with the German city of Hann Münden signed in 1992.
The basis for the treaty was a joint statement issued by the German chancellor Helmut Kohl and the Polish prime minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in 1990. In the article No. 52 of this statement we read a declaration that a commemorative plaque mentioning the fact of the birth of Kurt Schumacher, a German SPD activist, in Chelmno, will be set.
Since 1992 Hann Münden, a city in Lower Saxony, is annually visited by more and more people – as a part of the exchange between the cities. They are mainly pupils of secondary and special schools, members of various associations, sports clubs and folk bands. Also, city councillors, office clerks, workers, fire-fighters, policemen and military personnel took part in those mutual visits to share their experience. As early as in 1990 pupils of the high school met and established contacts with their peers from Gevelsberg. There are pupil exchanges every two years. Also, a long time before signing the treaty high school pupils from Chelmno and their peers from Hann Münden visited each other. Thanks to these exchanges friendships are made and while visiting different cities pupils get to know the history and the culture of their countries. During the visits they take part in lessons and classes, and thanks to staying at host families they have contact with everyday life. Excursions to, among others, Gdansk, Sztutowo, Malbork, Warsaw, Krakow, Oswiecim and Czestochowa are organized during the exchanges. High school pupils, sportsmen and members of other groups have had possibilities to visit the Parliament. Moreover, international contacts present Polish teenagers with opportunities to learn and improve German and English.
Every year the exchange attracts new groups. In 1996 children from the Special Education Centre joined in. It is a special exchange in terms of chances given to disabled children from various countries to integrate. Furthermore, the Special Education Centre was equipped with computers and teaching aids thanks to the newly established contacts.
Also, the high school is supported financially by the partner city. In 2000 a multimedia classroom for studying German was set up and recreational rooms were additionally equipped. For the last four years the high school has been getting money for extra German lessons as well.
Since 1994 Chelmno has maintained contacts with the following cities: Holon in Israel, Hackney – a district of London, and Suresnes in France. So far, a very successful project ‘Eurothlon’ has been the effect of the cooperation. The Chelmno Basketball Club took part in it, too. Canoeists from the sports club ‘Nadwislanin’ also participate in trilateral Polish-German-Israeli meetings.
New projects with all the partner cities taking part have been recently organized, among them: MINI EXPO in connection with the EXPO 2000 exhibition in Hanover; Chelmno was the host of the project MULTIMEDIA organized between 16th and 27th July – 45 people from France, Germany, Israel, the United Kingdom, and Poland were present at the meeting. In 2002 the project the motto of which was ‘Environment’ was held in Lamoura-Suresnes with the participation of youth from eight countries.
In 2002 the exchange was extended and teenagers from Yugoslavia, Austria and Spain joined in. Also, young people from Lithuania and Latvia have been invited. A new project of humanitarian aid started in 2002 – ‘Polish and German youth are building new computer classrooms in Kragujevac’ (Yugoslavia) is a good occasion for making new contacts.
Apart from the school and sports exchanges also cultural associations take part, among them: the Song and Dance Ensemble ‘Pomorze’; the brass band from the Chelmno community centre – the group which established contacts with a similar band from Unlingen in Germany; the Folk Dance Ensemble ‘Kundzia’ which has wide contacts all over Europe; the ‘Chorus Culmensis’ choir; and the longbow fraternity. In 2001 pupils of junior high schools were invited to join the exchange program. The junior high school No. 2 started interesting cooperation with a school in Stolzenau. The fact that Polish teenagers took part in the 10th anniversary of the knock-down of the Berlin Wall, and one of the projects got the 2nd prize in youth OSCAR organized by the Körber Foundation proves how well the whole exchange program functions. The cooperation between the cities would not be possible without the financial help of the Polish-German Youth Cooperation in Warsaw and Potsdam, the European Union, the Polish-German Foundation, and above all – the inhabitants of the cities.
Recapitulation meetings of the cooperation so far were organized during the 10th anniversary of signing of the partnership – in May 2002 in Hann Münden, and in June in Chelmno.
In order to tighten and expand the international cooperation the Kurt Schumacher’s European Centre of Youth Exchange was established in 2002 by the Starogrodzkie lake. A foundation under the same name is situated there as well.
Kurt Schumacher’s European Centre of Youth Exchange
By the Starogrodzkie lake in Chelmno
ul. gen. J. Jastrzebskiego 5
tel. : +48 (56) 679-02-35
tel. : +48 (56) 679-02-30
fax: +48 (56) 677-30-67
More information on Hann Münden to be found at http://www.hann.meunden.de