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50 years ago in Warsaw

by Philipp Rodriguez (Aug 31, 2005)

50 years ago started the frist SCI workcamp in Warsaw in cooperation with World Federation of Democratic Youth*. In SCI publication this workcamp is often considered as "the beginning" of the East West exchange in our organisation.

Warsaw 1950

Actually this not completly right if we take in account the engagement of SCI activists in Poland in 1945** and Yugoslavia in 1948. But also the effort to found a SCI branch in Czechoslovakia by Premsyl Pitter in 1947 shall be mentionned here.

But Warsaw 1955 can been seen as sucess to open the door to the Eastern block in the middle of the cold war. This was not easy, as there were also strong reserations within SCI against any cooperation with socialist organisations. In this controversy finally the influence of the Quakers within SCI dominated and it was possible to set up the project with WFDY.

In the consequent years other workcamps projects followed in other socialist countries: 1958 USSR, 1963 GDR, 1964 Yugoslavia, 1968 CSSR. But in the row of this capital letter-countries, it has to be mentionned, that there was also a small exchange from East to West. I don't know anything about numbers, but there were some volunteers from this countries taking part in SCI camps in the West.

Does SCI celebrate this anniversary?I don't know the last news. Last year I heard of a kind of celebration workcamp in Warsaw. In Spring a proposal for a publication went through the mailing list, which I personally don't find so funny compared to the workcamp thing. So I see it as my duty to mention it on this website as it's quiet interesting part in the history of SCI. At the moment I'm looking forward to read the 'new' GDR files in SCI archives, which my friend Bertram brought recently to Switzerland.




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