“A German Dilemma: Challenging Experiences at a Tavistock Conference in Poland”

by Isabelle Reiniger

Part One: Introduction, Background, and Experiences

When the group asked Silke (names have been changed to protect confidentiality) about her headache and why she might be feeling tired and bored, she turned to me and said in her German accent, “I am tired of your shit!” And to Thorsten, the only man in the group, she uttered “And your shit as well! You both talk too much and I can’t connect to it emotionally.” But to Bina, an Israeli who was also an active talker, she added: “Now you, I can relate to, so it is different!”

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Part Two: Reflection and Analysis

More than twenty years prior to my birth, unspeakable atrocities took place, which led to a part of myself becoming identified with evil. It was inescapable and oppressive. Attending the conference and writing this paper has helped me further understand the complexity and difficulties involved for those of us who were born and raised in Germany during or after the Nazi regime, but also some of the intergroup dynamics with groups who were victims of the German people during the period of fascism. In fact using the group relations model, I question what role the Germans were serving in the larger European and world context.

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