Good things come to those who wait. After the forced Corona break, the European Citizens’ Meeting (EBB), which is supposed to take place every two years, could finally take off again: From 1 to 4 September, the Second EBB took place in Kassel.
“It is more important than ever that Europeans meet, exchange ideas and seek solutions to Europe’s current challenges. Only in this way can real solidarity emerge and be lived,” said Hermann Heußner, Chair of the Europa-Union Kassel at the opening ceremony in Niederzwehren’s Matthäuskirche. As part of the 12-member EBB organising team, he and the other volunteers prepared and carried out the four-day event on a voluntary basis.
About 120 people attended the opening, including 60 guests from other European countries and many Ukrainians. To ensure that everyone could understand what was said, translations were made into English, Polish and Ukrainian. The opening was accompanied musically by the YMCA trombone choir under the direction of Karl-Heinz Sippel and regional cantor Gudrun Stute with Elija Krause, one of her music students, on the trumpet. The first getting to know each other took place afterwards over a delicious dinner. First contacts were made for the next few days and the participants got to know each other before the first workshop. Afterwards, the guests went to their host families, who provided accommodation for the next few days.
On Friday, the second EBB day, the thematic workshops started. The workshops are the heart of the EBB. There, the participants exchange ideas on a topic that particularly interests them. “The EBB is not exclusively a political event. With our diverse workshop programme, we cover topics from art and culture to technology and politics,” said Christopher Overkamp, honorary executive director of the EBB. Thus, participants could choose workshops led by volunteers that correspond to their own interests and find like-minded people from all over Europe. It becomes clear: everything has European aspects and interests extend across borders. And there is truly enough to talk about in Europe. Russia’s war of aggression, the energy crisis, climate protection and the threat to democracies are some of the topics discussed in the workshops. But the Brothers Grimm, the cultural roots of the buildings in the Bergpark and the history of the Henschel company were also presented. The participants were able to discuss what they had learned over dinner on Friday and Saturday evening. On Friday there was also a small but loud surprise with the drum workshop of the drum circle.
On Saturday came the grand finale: a rally followed by the legendary
the legendary Europe Party. A peak of 500 people took part in the demonstration in the centre of Kassel. After the opening rally at Scheidemann-Platz, the sea of flags moved past the obelisk along Königsstraße to the steps of the town hall. There, Hans Eichel, among others, spoke and called for a United States of Europe. “Europe is only strong if it is united,” appealed the former mayor, father of the state and federal minister as keynote speaker in front of the town hall. Eichel spoke in favour of a common foreign policy and a common European army.
On Sunday, the EBB ended with a day programme that could be arranged individually: in the morning, a Europe service including church coffee was offered at the Ukraine aid organisation of the Malteser on the Rothenberg. Inclination groups visited the documenta or the UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Bergpark together. A Polish school class, which stayed a few days longer, enjoyed the day and the weather with fun and games at a spontaneous garden party.