Dialogue Groups, comprised of Holocaust survivors/victims and their descendants; perpetrators, bystanders, resisters and their descendants constitute the foundation on which all other One by One programs are built. These groups are led by professionally trained facilitators from both sides of the war experience and are usually held in Germany.
Dialogue Among Descendants of Survivors, Perpetrators, Bystanders and Resistors
Many people who have been close to war and genocide carry the pain of unresolved trauma, and often pass their fears, stereotypes and prejudices to the next generation. The dialogue process is designed to begin to alleviate the burdens of one's traumatic past and interrupt the intergenerational transmission of trauma, prejudice and group hatred. The presence of participants from both sides is essential to the group's success.
Dialogue Group participants (usually 14-16 individuals) spend five days together in a conference center sharing their family histories. Each person addresses the question, "How has the Holocaust or the Nazi Regime affected my life?" The facilitators create and maintain an atmosphere of respect, honesty and compassion.
In these heterogeneous groups, one to one interaction creates an opportunity for participants to challenge long-held stereotypes about "the other." The dialogue group experience supports individuals as they re-examine their family's experiences and its impact upon their lives. It creates an opportunity to have these experiences heard and validated by those whom they had previously feared or distrusted. Members of the victim side often hear the profound apologies they have waited a lifetime to hear, and members of the perpetrator side often meet descendants of victims for the first time and hear from them that they are not to blame for atrocities committed by their parents, grandparents and countrymen. Instead of carrying pain and guilt participants often report that they felt a great burden had been taken off of their shoulders. Many participants find they have renewed energy, which they often devote to artistic creation, social action and teaching.
The One by One dialogue group experience provides an opportunity to meet and learn from descendants from the "other side" and provides a context for using this burdensome legacy in a constructive manner. Nearly all the members report that the dialogue experience helped them to transform some aspect of their Holocaust legacy.