Experiential Conference: Lived Life and Future Life in the Shadow of Wars Secrets and Transparency in Norway, Germany and Elsewhere
Nansen Academy, Lillehammer / Norway, June 10th – 12th, 2014


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    Introduction

    Almost 70 years after the end of 2nd World War, there are still atrocities, painful stories and secrets within and between nations, within and between generations which have not been addressed, talked and thought about. After 1945, in most affected countries perpetrators and victims (i.e. in relation to the persecution and annihilation of Jews and others), resistance fighters and collaborators (i.e. in relation to the occupation) were the acknowledged categories. At the time, little attention was given to what they meant for the next generations. Other stories which were less clear cut were not addressed at all. Whatever it is that cannot be talked about – it makes it hard for the next generations to reflect on the past in the service of a better future. If the remnants of anxiety, guilt, shame and pain have to be kept secret, they are likely to be passed on to children and even grandchildren and create a heavy burden for them – especially when they can only sense that “something is wrong” without understanding what it was.

    These dynamics are true for victims, perpetrators, bystanders and those who do not neatly fit solely into any of these categories - in all countries affected by the war.  No one appears to be entirely free of historical injuries and their contemporary manifestations, transmitted from one generation to the next.  They keep alive deep hostility, suspicion and enmity, within and between nations and repeated conflict until the present day. This can go unnoticed since many of these processes happen unconsciously or only half consciously, nevertheless influencing the lives of generations and the relations between nations.

    This residential conference aims to allow participants to work on experiences and residues of such traumas, irrespective of the role they or their ancestors have had in them. It is designed for people who are intrigued by their history and wish to know more about its impact on their personal lives, on the groups they belong to, and on the national and international attitudes that are shaped by and reflect such dynamics. These are often met in the form of open or hidden prejudices, stereotypes, fantasies and fears.

    Away from the pressures of ordinary life, the conference provides a safe setting for these forces to emerge, for opportunities to explore how they may be understood, and to discover whether and how genuine movement in the real, lived relationships between members of such groups might be possible.

    Background

    This conference continues the exploration of the residual effects and aftermath of horrendous atrocities on the national groups that perpetrated or were their victims. The first three conferences were held in Israel and Germany, and their story is told in a recently published book[1]. It gives examples of the impact and significance of these events on the German and Israeli/Jewish participants, many of whom were helped to repair a relationship that had been catastrophically damaged by the Holocaust. The fourth and fifth conferences included "affected Others". The sixth and seventh conferences were further extended to include Palestinians. Currently the focus of attention has been taken to Europe while the issue of current conflict is being explored further. Those working on these interfaces in their professional lives found this work hugely beneficial, and many returned for a further opportunity to deepen their engagement with the process.

    During the last year different topics connected to the 2nd World War have come up in Norway. Several books have been published where second generation have written about their parents and their role during the war. Grandchildren have written books about the destiny of their grandparents during and after the war, how they were treated by the enemy, but also by their own people. Children of NS-Members and children of resistance fighters did not have a voice. Norwegian women had to give up their Norwegian citizenship when they married a German soldier or officer and moved to Germany.  Children were raised in Germany and forced back to Norway after the war.  Right now a movie is being presented: “Zwei Leben” (Two lives) by Georg Maas, with Liv Ullman as the mother of a Lebensborn child, and the Stasi using this child’s identity for its own purposes. The deportation of Norwegian Jews is still not a public issue, but has been touched in TV documented reportage. In 1992 the Norwegian King Harald openly addressed the courage and sacrifices of Norwegian partisans in northern part of Norway.  Until then they had been treated like traitors because they had flown to the Soviet Union, the immediate neighbour country, and since then were associated with the communist regime.

    Many European countries have been similarly affected by German invasion and occupation, and contemporaries as well as their children still have to wrestle with the impact of this past.

    In Germany, the public discourse today acknowledges German responsibility for WW II and the Holocaust, for invasion and occupation of Norway and many other European countries in which people were oppressed and Jews and others were deported and murdered. Nevertheless, in many families, children and grandchildren of the war found themselves confronted with their parents’ and grandparents’ secrets – both of the Nazi and the Communist times – and either attacked them for it or were and possibly still are scared to know about crimes committed by family members, often unaware that the secrets can be a heavier burden than the spoken truths. At the same time, many of them had quite an un-empathic upbringing. This was often due to the strict and cold educational Nazi ideology. However, many parents and grandparents were also traumatized by what they had gone through, during the war, even though many of them had also been perpetrators, and these traumas also had an impact on the children.

    Aim of the Conference

    There are many secrets in public history life, in societies and in families history and individual lives. The conference is designed for those who are carrying all these secrets from different positions, ordinary people and historians, teachers, other professions and politicians who are contributing in shaping the future.

    The aim of the conference is to provide a setting, away from the pressures of ordinary daily life, in which participants can experience, explore and begin to work with the unconscious and not-quite conscious factors involved in the relationships, in the mind and in the external world, between the different individuals and groups present at the conference.

    The Primary Task

    This conference is designed to provide opportunities for participants to explore how the secrets of the past have influenced their lives, both in private life and as citizens. The conference provides an opportunity to explore a range of feelings, fantasies and experiences related to active and passive involvement in atrocities and how that might influence relations within and between different individuals and groups in the conference, and how they affect and influence perceptions of the future.

    Method

    There is no teaching of the conventional kind, and what each individual participant learns cannot be predicted in advance, as it depends on the extent and nature of the individual’s participation in the ongoing process.

    Group relations conferences are experiential in nature. Inner thoughts, feelings and fantasies about oneself as a participant and as a member of one (or more) of the groups within the conference are the raw materials that every individual brings to the work of the conference. The conference provides a setting in which these can be experienced, explored and worked with, in oneself, within groups, between groups, and within the conference as a whole. Much of this work is carried out in the here and now.

    The work of the conference is done in groups. Most groups will have one or more consultants, whose role is not to lead the group but to facilitate the group’s working on the primary task of the conference. Consultants do so by focusing on the dynamics and work of the group as a whole, rather than on the individuals within it.

    Membership

    This residential conference invites people from Norway, Germany and elsewhere – from all the groups mentioned above, from all walks of life and all ages – who recognize the painful residues of war and historical trauma and are intrigued by their impact on them. No previous experience of this kind of conference is necessary except the wish to learn from one's experience of membership and to participate in the events of the conference.

    The Role of Staff

    The Staff are a significant element in the conference. They are not dispassionate observers of the process but have an active involvement in it. However, they also have specific tasks and roles. The staff collectively forms the conference management, with authority and responsibility for setting the boundary conditions of task, territory and time – the work, the where and the when of events – that are essential to enabling participants to engage in the primary task of the conference. In addition, individual staff members take up specific directorial, administrative and consultant roles. In their consultant roles, based on their own experience and observations, staff members will offer working hypotheses about what is happening in the 'here and now' of the event, with the aim of focusing attention on group processes and their impact on participants learning.

    The Program

    The primary task of the conference is pursued through several different types of event, including:

    Small Study Groups (SSG). These are groups of about 8-12 members with a consultant. The task is to study what unfolds in the group in the 'here and now', while working on the primary task of the conference.

    Large Study Group (LSG). This group brings together the entire membership with several consultants. The task of this group is to study the ‘here and now' of the large group process, as it unfolds, while working on the primary task of the conference.

    System Event (SE). The SE provides a setting in which members can explore and study the nature of their relatedness to their own group and to other groups present in the system. The event will start with members in specifically defined groups.

    The aim of the event is to shed light on what is involved in belonging to a group, and in the relationships that develop between different groups. The specific task is to study the ongoing processes of establishing and developing relationships within the system as a whole. This is a 'here and now event' in which all participants are involved. Staff will take part as a management group and will also make consultancy available.

    Plenaries (P). Plenaries involve all members and all staff. The Opening Plenary introduces the conference and provides an opportunity for participants to enter into the conference and to explore and reflect on the experience of doing so and taking up roles within it. The Closing Plenary is designed to review and to work on the process of ending.

    Review Groups (RG). Depending on the conference membership, there will be about 5-7 members of the same background in each group. Each group will have its own consultant. The purpose is to enable members to examine and reflect on the different roles they have taken up within the conference. It also aims to help members articulate and conceptualize their ongoing experience of the conference.  There may be additional events or a modification of existing events, depending on conference composition and the conference dynamic.

    A detailed timetable of events will be made available at the beginning of the conference.

    Conference Management & Staff

    Conference Director

    Renate Groenvold Bugge, Psychologist, Clinical and Occupation/Organization Psychologist (Oslo University); extensive experience in international work with organizations in crisis; member of ISPSO ( International Society for the psychoanalytic study of organizations), OPUS (Organisation for Promoting Understanding in Society)

    Conference Associate Director

    Anton Obholzer, Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst and Organisational Consultant. Formerly Director, Tavistock Centre, London. Presently engaged at the INSEAD French International Business School, Global Leadership Centre.

    Conference Administrator

    Dorothee C. von Tippelskirch-Eissing, PhD , Dipl-Psych, psychoanalyst in private practice; president of the Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute – Karl Abraham Institute (BPI), board member of the German Psychoanalytic Association (DPV), member of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA); member of Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities (PCCA); Germany.

    Assistant Conference Administrator

    Kristin Vold Lexander, PhD, Linguistics, MA African Studies (University of Oslo), teacher Nansen Academy. Member of local organizing committee International Symposium on Bilingualism 8, Oslo 2011

    Consultants*

    Hermann Beland, M.A. Theology; Psychological Psychotherapist; Psychoanalyst in private praxis in Berlin since 1965. Supervisor and Training Analyst (BPI, DPV, EPF, IPA) German Psychoanalytic Association; founding member PCCA.

    Siv Boalt Boëthius, PhD, Professor at Stockholm University. Psychoanalyst, member of the Swedish Psychoanalytic Association and IPA. Past Principal of the Erica Foundation, Stockholm, Organizational Consultant. Founding member and past chairperson of AGSLO, Sweden. Past president of EFPP (European Foundation for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy). Member of ISPSO and OPUS.

    Robert French, (DPhil) is a writer, coach and organisational consultant with an interest in the dynamics of working groups.

    Veronika Grueneisen, PhD, psychoanalyst in private practice; Supervisor and Training Analyst, German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG/IPA); Chairperson, PCCA e.V.; Organisational Consultant, Member AOCS, The Tavistock Institute’s Advanced Organisational Consultation Society; Member OPUS; Nuernberg, Germany

    Mira Erlich-Ginor, M.A.. Clinical Psychologist, Training and Supervisory Analyst; Faculty, Israel Psychoanalytic Society; Organizational Consultant; Founding member and Past Chairperson OFEK, Israel. Founding member and secretary, PCCA, Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities. Israel.

    Ross A. Lazar, B. A. (Honours), M.A.T, trained as a Psycho-analytic Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist at the Tavistock Clinic and Tavistock Institute of Human Relations. He was a Founder Member and Chairman of The W. R. Bion Forum for the Advancement of Psycho-Analysis as well as a Founder Member and Member of the Executive of MundO (Menschen und Organisationen), and has participated in and directed numerous Group Relations Conferences. He is a member of ISPSO, the ACP (Association of Child Psychotherapists - UK), and OPUS.

    Dr. Rune Rønning, DMan, Reg clinical psychologist, R & D Director at AFF,

    The Administrative Research Institute at The Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. Member OPUS.

    *Will be drawn from this list

    Administrative Information

    Time: The conference will begin at on Tuesday, June 10th, 2014, 10 hrs, and end at 17:00 on Thursday, June 12th 2014.**

    Language: The conference working language will be English, except where a single-language group is working with a consultant conversant with their language. Members not fully fluent in English can expect to receive help with translation when needed.

    Venue: The conference will be held at Nansen Academy, Lillehammer, Norway; address: Bjoernstjerne Bjoernsonsgate 2, 2609 Lillehammer, Norway. Tel.: 0047 61 26 54 00 E-mail: administrasjon@nansenskolen.no

    Members and staff will reside and work at the Academy. 

    NOTE also that rooms are simple, and bathrooms are shared and outside of the room.

    Conference fee: The fee is EUR 620,- (appr. NOK 5000,-) and includes accommodation, meals and the conference fee for accommodation from June 10th to afternoon of 12th of June, 2014. Additional nights can be booked from June 9th to 10th and from June 12th to 13th. The price for each of these additional nights will be 65,00€ per Person (including breakfast).

    The fee must be paid in full, and in EURO upon receipt of invoice/confirmation to:

    Geber+Reusch
    Commerzbank Mannheim (Germany)
    IBAN DE80 6708 0050 0711 2762 05
    SWIFT DRESDEFF670

    If you send the money through the bank, please instruct your bank to pay the charges for transferring the money, and it is important that you make sure your name is given as a reference when payment is made.

    It is possible to apply for bursary. Deadline for bursary applications is April 15th, 2014.

    Please send your application to: Congress-Organisation Geber & Reusch, geber@t-online.de , latest by May 1st, 2014

    ** provided a sufficient number of participants.

     


     1 S. Erlich, M. Erlich-Ginor, H. Beland  Fed with Tears – Poisoned with Milk. The “Nazareth” Group-Relations-Conferences. Germans and Israelis – The Past in the Present. Psychosozial-Verlag 2009