Programs

“Demokratie Leben!” supports
Spuren e.V.’s school projects

On Friday, 1 April 2022, Spuren director Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams was at the handover of the grant notification from our sponsor “Demokratie Leben!” Spuren e.V. was awarded 10.000€ of funding for its project “Democracy in danger: from Hitler to Honecker – local and global perspectives on Unstrut-Hainich”. In the course of this project we want to go to schools and talk to the students about practical democracy, Thuringian social history and the coexistence of people from different cultures. To do this, we are bringing guest speakers from around the world to Bad Langensalza to share their unique stories. We thank “Demokratie Leben!” for their trust in our project and the generous funding!

Bad Langensalza aid project takes in refugees from Ukraine

Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams, director of Spuren e.V. in Bad Langensalza, bought a house on 24 March 2022. On 29 March, a family of eight who had fled Ukraine moved in. Within just two weeks, the house was completely renovated, equipped with furniture and made ready to move in. With the help of numerous volunteers from Bad Langensalza and the surrounding area, the empty house was able to become the refugee home Phyllis-Thrams-Luick-Haus in a very short time. Michael follows the example of the Scattergood Hostel, which was opened by Quakers in Iowa at the time of the Second World War and took in a total of 185 refugees from Europe. For the duration of the Ukraine war and thereafter, this house is intended to provide refuge to those fleeing war and suffering. In the next few days, more Ukrainian refugees are to come to the house and we hope that they will settle in well in the Phyllis-Thrams-Luick-Haus and in Bad Langensalza.

Native American gives guest lecture at Salza-Gymnasium

On Friday, 18 March 2022, Kevin Manygoats, a Native American from the Navajo tribe (they call themselves Diné), visited Salza-Gymnasium. First he visited an 8th grade, then a 5th grade and introduced them to the history and culture of the Native Americans, especially that of his tribe, at a student-friendly level. The children were curious and learned a lot of new things. We hope to do more projects with Kevin in schools soon.

Global Salon LSZ:
Native American gives guest lecture at the Global Salon LSZ

On Thursday, 17 March 2022, Kevin Manygoats, a Native American from the Navajo tribe (they call themselves Diné), visited Bad Langensalza. At the Global Salon, held this week at the Burgtheater, he spoke about the history and culture of native Americans. The audience was enthusiastic and had many interested questions. The event was a resounding success and brought some new people to the Global Salon. We would like to welcome Kevin back to Bad Langensalza soon!

Commitment to peace:
TRACES members at a demonstration in Washington DC

On Sunday, 27 February 2022, TRACES Director Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams and his volunteer Anja were part of a demonstration in front of the Russian Embassy in Washington DC. Together with Quakers from the surrounding area, they campaigned for peace and against the war in Ukraine. It was moving how many people from different backgrounds worked together for this important cause. We want to send a clear signal: what is happening in Ukraine is wrong and although we are non-partisan and apolitical, commitment like this is important and an essential part of our philosophy.

Presenting in the US:
Out of Hitler’s Reach:
The Scattergood Hostel
for European Refugees

Throughout February 2022, Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams, accompanied by his FSJ volunteer Anja, traveled around America giving lectures on the Scattergood Hostel, a little-known Iowan safe haven for refugees of Hitler’s Nazi regime. On 23 February 2022, Michael visited the Princeton Friends School, a Quaker day-school in the woods of Pennsylvania for Pre-K through 8th grade students. Michael’s talk was particularly relevant to these students as the hostel was created at the site of an abandoned Friends boarding school and operated by about 40 Midwestern Quakers and college students. Then, on 26 February, Michael presented at the German-American Heritage Museum of the USA in Washington, D.C. People who could not attend this event in person had the opportunity to join via Zoom. Attendees learned about the 185 refugees housed at the hostel, and heard details from interviews with some former residents. The hostel was also the focus of Michael’s now out-of-print book Out of Hitler’s Reach: The Scattergood Hostel for European Refugees, 1939-43 and a PBS documentary, which Michael embedded into his presentations.

Global Salon LSZ:
“Reporting to you ‘Live from New York’!”

On Thursday, 24 February 2022, the Global Salon LSZ met again for our free weekly English conversation course. We were pleased to welcome new participants while Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams (US-American), his FSJ-volunteer Anja (German) and his future Workaway-volunteer Marissa (US-American) reported to us live from the States via Zoom. They introduced the Big Apple and shared with us their personal experiences getting to know this fascinating metropolis!

Global Salon
LSZ cellar tour

On 17 February 2022, during our English Course – or as we like to call it: The “Global Salon LSZ” – our Workaway-volunteer Edison took over the lesson to lead discussions about questions frequently asked by foreigners regarding Germany. One of the topics which offered a lot of room for different theories for instance was our comparatively low birth rate. Afterwards our lovely salon member and city guide Anja took some of us on a tour through the vaulted travertine cellars under Bad Langensalza! It was spooky, spider-y and exciting!

From left to right: Edison (Philippines), Horst (Germany), Marianne (Germany), Anja (Germany), Leonie (Germany) and Demetre (Georgia) in the vaulted cellars under Bad Langensalza.

The Global Salon in
Bad Langensalza (“LSZ”)

Since the 4th of November 2021, the Haus of Spuren hosts every Thursday evening an English-conversation “course” that isn’t one: Instead, under the rubric of bringing locals together to refresh and practice their English-language skills, we explore as a group a series of other cultures: for example, Edison from the Philippines and Demetre from Georgia spoke about their native countries; Anja and Michael “reported live” from New York. As this series continues, it will offer travelogues, programs about other lands and cultures, historical reviews and the like.

People from all over the world coming together. Left to right: Leonie (Germany), Edison (Philippines), Michael (USA), Jörg (Germany), Demetre (Georgia), and Marianne (Germany).

Spuren and Bad Langensalza’s City Museum
organize Project for Students:
Looking at the German Civil War
from the Perspectives of Witnesses

Bad Langensalza, home to TRACES’ German partner association Spuren  e.V., has become an important part of the German Civil War’s history due to having been the setting of the Battle of Langensalza on 27 June 1866. Therefore, it is of great importance that young and old engage in learning about this life-altering event.

Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams, who founded Spuren e.V., collaborated with the local city museum’s director Stefan Schuchardt to push education about this matter forward. Together they set up a two-part project, which took place on 25 January 2022 as well as 1 February, during which they invited the eleventh grade students of the Salza High school to the museum and presented them with facts about the battle and its lasting impact on the history of Germany. Afterward, the pupils were given the task of writing about the battle from different perspectives. Based on a witness report, they covered it from the perspective of an involved soldier, his mother, a contemporary journalist, as well as a historian. That way they had the chance to look at this piece of history from a social angle and try to grapple with just what might have been on the minds of the involved back then.

International Volunteers teach 5th graders
during special school lessons

It is important for children to already get to know different people and cultures at an early age. This is why Spuren e.V. organized a special event for two classes of fifth-graders at the Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Gymnasium Großengottern on 31 January 2022. Two of the association’s volunteers, Edison Miguel Capulong from the Philippines and Demetre Chinchaladze from the Republic of Georgia, visited the pupils and created interactive school lessons for them.

The two young men told them exciting facts about their home countries, including sports, climate, and geography, underlining it with a PowerPoint presentation full of beautiful pictures. They satisfied kids’ curiosity by leaving room for Q&As. Appropriate to the lesson’s topic, Edison and Demetre taught in English. Since the students are of course no English experts, Dr. Luick-Thrams and Edison, who has previously worked as an English teaching assistant in Madrid, made sure to give them the time and proper explanations to process the new vocabulary they have learned.

The fifth graders enjoyed our visit and we hope that they could take away a lot from it!

The Global Salon EF:
CORONA Edition

The following entry shows a photo from 26 January 2020 of English-speaking expats living in Erfurt, having just chewed on intellectual sustenance provided in an elaborately illustrated and narrated PowerPoint presentation by Anahita Arian–and just before chewing our way through a buffet table filled with post-presentation delights. Nowadaze, such a casual, physically-close gathering is only a dream, nay a mere mirage of “What Once Was”… Too soon thereafter, we ceased meeting–until, that is, we dared to meet (relatively “distanced”) on a sunny Friday early evening on 12 June 2020. Decimated by understandable fears of contagion, here is a scene of the few brave souls whose hunger for social contact and intellectual stimulation was still (or “again”?) greater than our fears… oh, and not to mention our hunger for non-German food!

Going forward, we know now not, when we once again shall gather in such pursuits… but may it be very soon…

The Global Salon
in Erfurt (“EF”)

Before World War I, the most English-speaking expats living in Europe resided in Paris; after that, Dresden: The “Florence on the Elbe” catered to them with a score of English-language newspapers, bookshops, cafés, social clubs, gravestones… even an Anglican, a (Scottish) Presbyterian and an “American” church. Sadly, three-quarters of a century of war, dictatorship and the Iron Curtain killed Anglo-American culture in eastern Germany.

Now, in Thüringen, however, we’re changing that…

Fifteen expats attended Anahita Arian’s presentation The 17th-Century Safavid Diplomatic Envoy to Siam: A Politics of Knowledge Formation” on Sunday, 26 January 2020. They included, in the back row, from the left: Tim (Texas), Jeremy (Ontario), David (Ireland), Lelah (Ontario), Anahita (Iran and the Netherlands), Carolina (Spain), Sabine (Erfurt) and Shelley (California and New York); front row: John (Yorkshire), Barbara (Missouri), Stefan (South Africa), Marianna (Romania and Britain) and Michael (Iowa). As a group, we have lived in myriad countries, in addition to those listed: (e.g.) Turkey, South Korea, [then-extant] Czechoslovakia, France, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador…

Since New Year’s Eve 2017, a group of native speakers of English in Thüringen meets regularly to build an even better life here through exchange, programs… community.

Here’s the invitation to our meeting on 26 January 2020:

Download pdf(741kb)

Posters about previous Salons follow:

November 2019

Download pdf(1.8mb)

October 2019

Download pdf(13.3mb)

August 2018

flyer_2018_Aug_the_global_salon_low

Download pdf(185kb)

June 2018

Download pdf(478kb)

An editor at the Thüringer Allgemeine, Karsten Jauch, especially liked the idea of The Global Salon. He wrote about it in his weekly column “Kunstpause” (“Art Break”), both before its launch and, having been present at that initial meeting, about it afterwards.

Download (PDF, 531KB)

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“In Luther’s Footsteps:”
Midwest College Students Explore Erfurt

On 17 January 2020, 17 students from Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) toured Erfurt, as part of an extensive, three-week tour of Germany focused on classical music. One of their two chaperones, music professor James Griesheimer, accompanied them during their 12-hour exploration of the provincial capital, led by TRACESpuren director, Michael Luick-Thrams. 

After a greeting and quick orientation in front of the Hauptbahnhof, the students explored Thüringen virtually at the regional visitor center opposite the main station:

Local-guide Michael Luick-Thrams, freshly operated on to remove cancer, and some of the freshly-arrived Luther College students, viewing the “360-Degree Discover Thueringen Digitally” display in Erfurt, the capital of the province of Thueringen

Then, their rigorous discovery tour through the ancient city began in ​​earnest:

Download (pdf)

The afternoon’s itinerary included a visit to a Holocaust memorial site, Topf & Söhne, the factory infamous as the “maker of the ovens of Auschwitz.” Special to their tour, the students took turns narrating excerpts from Luther College students who fought in World War II—which proved to be exceptionally meaningful to these contemporary students.

The War Correspondence of Luther College’s Student Soldiers
download: PP presentation (pdf) or script (pdf)

That evening, following a self-guided tour of the Andreasstrasse STASI-prison memorial, all involved appreciated “lighter” fare for dinner—a Medieval dinner banquet in the arched-ceiling cellars of Wirtshaus Christoffel:

The students and their local guide ended the evening with a view over Erfurt’s Altstadt [“Old City”] from the Stadtpark, the “City Park” on a hill on the backside of the Hauptbahnhof. Sad to see the students go even before they departed per an ICE fast train to their hotel in Eisenach, Michael Luick-Thrams stayed in contact with the students intermittently for the rest of their trip—including, on the day of their tour of Dachau, sending them both a film of American soldiers liberating the camp as well as a link to photos taken of the camp by some of the Midwest soldiers who supplanted Nazi rule there.

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Celebrating the Haus der Demokratie +
the 70th Anniversary of German Basic Law:
” – And What’s That Got to Do with Me?” 

Projektwoche – 2019

son Christian Krauter (left) with his mother Anneliese,
and Michael Luick-Thrams; Meiningen, 1 October 2019

From 30 September to 2 October 2019, pupils at Regelschule “Am Kiliansberg” in Meiningen (Thüringen) considered their own families’ roots and experiences by exploring those of others. Michael Luick-Thrams presented to them stories from German-American history as background for special guest Anneliese (née Wiegand) Krauter, who came all the way from Indianapolis to share her story with the pupils:

It was wartime on the US home front. She was an American—wasn’t she? Anneliese had been born in New York, of German-immigrant parents (one already naturalized, one awaiting that). As citizens, the eight-year-old girl, her older brother Freddie and her Waldorf-hotel salad-chef mother “should” have been guaranteed due process when “Lee’s” father was interned as a suspected traitor—but they were not. Instead, they “voluntarily” took residence at Camp Crystal City, until they, too, were “repatriated” and forcibly sent to Europe, where the family was traded for Axis-held US nationals… and then the Wiegands’ adventure really started! It took them to Anneliese’s father’s hometown of Meiningen…

caption written by Anneliese (left): “Xmas 1942 family pic we sent to Pappi
while he was in internment camp” near Bismarck, North Dakota; the
photo shows Anneliese, mother Alma (née Wiedrich) and brother Freddy

…where the Kiliansberg pupils used Anneliese’s fascinating story as a launching point to write their own. They presented the products of their work to the larger school body at a special program, shown here:

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“Our Hometown’s Becoming More Colorful!”

Images of Our City – 2019

At the Erfurt Schiller School as well as at the Community School am Roten Berg in Erfurt several days on on-site projects under the motto “ Our Hometown’s Becoming More Colorful!” in August, and September and December 2018, carried out with the aim that the students become more aware for their fellow human beings and to more sensitive to how they treat them.

Kevin Manygoats, Greg Mock and Dr. Michael Luick-Thrams each spoke about and showed pictures of their childhood and their families (respectively) on a Navajo reserve in Arizona, in an “inner-city colored ghetto” in Philadelphia, and on a farm in Iowa, with a great-grandfather/namesake who was a member of the Klu Klux Klan—which particularly persecuted Catholics. Their very personal family stories reflected the theme “The Roots of Racism in America”. This raised questions such as: “Why are colored people, Indians or Catholics persecuted?” In concrete terms, the pupils could talk about the roots of conflicts, e.g. in the family, in a school class or on the street; they come into conversation with their guests or each other, and think about how conflicts in Erfurt today could affect their coexistence.

Palestinian Thaer Issa and Israeli Sagy Cohen reported on how they grew up in one state with an “enemy” image of the other. The pupils discussed the concept of home and what it means for them. Hatem Adi, a refugee Syrian, talked about his life before and during the war in Syria and what it meant for his family in everyday life. The students asked interested questions and learned what fears and terror he had to overcome in the war and during the flight to Europe. In the class, several immigrant students are (e.g.) also refugees from Syria. For the first time, these students told their classmates what they themselves had experienced in Syria and during flight from their dramatic experiences.

Presentation (PDF)

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Nine Months, Three Powers, Millions of Fates:

Thuringian Social History from January through September 1945

We will take an exhibit throughout the entire state of Thuringia (and, if possible, later through the American Midwest in a retrofitted school bus; click one or the other link to see examples of our previous “BUS-eums“) as a way to bring public awareness to regional social history during the first nine months of 1945, during which three contrasting systems (Nazism, “Americanism” and Soviet communism) ruled the territory and affected the lives of millions. It will feature first-person narratives (diary entries, letters, articles, artwork, etc.) from the time, plus recent interviews with individuals with remembrances of events from the period in focus. We will invite visitors to the exhibit to record their stories, too, so that future generations can learn from them.

Download (PDF, 2MB)

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Words between Worlds

Our on-going programs continue to enrich audiences in schools, museums, religious and other organizations. Contact us to explore hosting one soon in your or a friend’s institution.

WW logo E

A Project that Creates Space for Encounters and
Exchange between Germans and Non-Germans

Former East Germany generally, but Dresden specifically, faces a considerable challenge at present:

few non-Germans live here. At least so it seems, as many people in the region don’t personally know any foreigners, yet fear or disdain them. And, fear breeds conflict.

Spuren e.V. has five solutions: a Malaysian Buddhist, a native Navajo, an Israeli Jew and a Midwest Quaker, a Russian Jew and erasmus-students from Jordan and Armenia.

They bring young people into direct contact with foreigners living in Germany. And, they offer pupils and their families a relaxed, non-polemical space where they can share their own stories with others.

Words between Worlds focuses not on the abstract or political but on the immediate and personal. Its co-facilitators believe that while we all live in a neighborhood, each of us first lives in a house: To make conscious our belief-driven behaviors, then confront and finally change them, we best begin at home. Thus, participants are invited to examine their origins and lives, and those of their families.

Words between Worlds is:

  • an enriching experience for 9th– to 12th-grade pupils and, if hosts wish, their families
  • built around a core 90-min. Power-Point-illustrated presentation for schools, churches, etc.
  • able to be tailored to fit each host’s needs, conditions and resources. A visit to a school can take place as a one-time assembly, or as half-, full-day or weekend workshops, using diverse means. Depending on the audience, its main working languages can be German or English.

For more information see www.DE.TRACES.org; to apply to host or attend a workshop, contact staff@TRACES.org.

Thank you for your interest!

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