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News from SCI International Archives informs about recent activities and insights or ideas around archives and the history of SCI.

Posted by Heinz Gabthuler on Apr 12, 2016

Page of Friedland work camp diary 1946The document I am presenting in this text is actually just a copy: I had donated the original to the recently opened Museum Friedland ( which is documenting the history of the transit camp for refugees and other migrants near the former border between West and East Germany. And when I visited the museum at its opening day, I was happy to see the SCI Archives’ donation having become part of its permanent exhibition.

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Posted by Heinz Gabthuler on Feb 8, 2016

Belgian French-speakers say souper whereas the French prefer to dîner. In Minsk, the capital of "Belorussia", a restaurant called "Jubileinaja" close to the Metro station Nemiga is recommended, however with no comments. A train ticket from Bonn to Köln costs 7,80 DM, whereas a big meal in Rome may easily cost 24’000 Lire. In Budapest, "it is better to ask an agency to help in cheap accommodation as they are overcrowded in summer” Belfast is neither "a natural home of the beer connoisseur nor over-endowed with theatres, cinemas or major musical venues". The section on Catalonia is safely separated from the one on Spain by well over 60 pages, reflecting the fact that an SCI branch in Catalonia existed well before the branch in Madrid was established. The Finnish capital Helsinki "has got many faces: cold and warm, east and west, and especially in the north", as well as "rich and poor". And "McDonald’s" is called "McDonald’s" in the otherwise pretty exotic-looking local language.


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Posted by Heinz Gabathuler on Oct 27, 2015

SCI Sri Lanka Anniversary BookletAs the ICM in Sri Lanka is approaching, it should be reminded that SCI activities in that country had started well over 55 years ago. The nice booklet the branch had issued for its 50th Anniversary in 2010 reminds, at the same time, of the then 90th Anniversary of International SCI activities.

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Posted by Heinz Gabathuler on Jul 7, 2015

During my private trip through India, I had the opportunity to meet with several activists and veterans of the Indian SCI branch in different places. In Bangalore, Valli Seshan invited me to her apartment for tea and sweets, and of course for a fruitful and interesting chat. Together with young SCI India activist Janak Gor we went there to reveal the “secrets” of the functioning of SCI’s International Secretariat in the late 1980s and early 1990s when, for the first and last time, it was located outside of Europe.


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Posted by Heint Gabathuler on Apr 15, 2015

SCI Presentation guideline 1946It was the time before Power Point and Prezi. And it was a time when people were used to listen: “Concerning the length of the presentations, we consider the following timelines to be the most appropriate: Not shorter than 45 minutes, not longer than 90 minutes”, writes Ralph Hegnauer, then SCI International Secretary, towards the end of a German-language document titled Der Internationale Zivildienst – Was ist er? Was will er?” [1]



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Posted by Heinz Gabathuler on Mar 18, 2015

On March 13th, 2015, at last, I made it to Bilthoven: The small town near Utrecht in the Netherlands where the idea of reconciliation among nations after war through practical reconstruction work has been born almost one hundred years ago.




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Posted by Philipp Rodriguez on Feb 18, 2015

Wilbert Helsloot (2001)Wilbert Helsloot has been active for SCI in the Balkans between 1993 and 2006.

Deeply impressed by his work camp experience in a refugee camp in Croatia 1993 during the war in Yugoslavia he started a long time commitment for conflict resolution in the Balkans.



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Posted by Heinz Gabathuler on Feb 8, 2015

Les Soeurs du Service Civil - Booklet cover

Amongst the propaganda brochures issued by SCI in its early years, my clear favourite is the 32-pages booklet titled “Les Sours du Service Civil” (in English “The Sisters of Voluntary Service”) - in A5 format and a dark blue cover, issued 80 years ago, in 1935, by the one and only SCI Secretariat in Bern, Switzerland, and sold for the incredible price of 60 Swiss Cents.

Needless to say that unlike nowadays, in these times there were neither EU commission nor Swiss government grants available for printing such material – so our forefathers and foresisters did have to ask a price!



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Posted by Heinz Gabathuler on Dec 22, 2014

Work and Sing, own by Ernst-Michael Lehmann

 In a box full of duplicates I found in the SCI Archives in Switzerland, there was a tiny little booklet in red and yellow entitled „Work and Sing – an International Songbook“. And on the front page, one can clearly see the name of its former owner: Ernst-Michael Lehmann, a clearly German name.

Two forewords and the imprint reveal that the booklet was first published in 1947 by the „Cooperative Recreation Service, Inc.“ in the United States, and could be ordered in Europe from UNESCO's Youth Section in Paris. The present copy is already part of the third, apparently enhanced edition which has been published somewhat later.

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Posted by Heinz Gabathuler on Nov 4, 2014

SCI Catalonia was founded in the course of democratisation in Spain after Franco's death in the early 1980s as "Servei Català de Camps de Traball". It has been the first, and for some time the only, SCI Branch on Spanish territory. They recently gave parts of their records to the National Archives of Catalonia where they are accessible to the public.

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