Der Verein zur Förderung der Internationalen
Jugendbegegnung in Solingen e.V.
29. May 1993 - the day of the arson attack in Solingen. Place: a house in the lower Werner Street in the proximity of the centre, occupied by the Genç, a Turkish family, which had been living there for many years. Also present at the time were two cousins visiting from Mercimek, Turkey. A mixture of blind xenophobia, alcohol and frustration were the deciding factors that gave course to the catastrophe that followed:
Five girls lost their lives, a boy suffered third degree burns and requires treatment to this day. Solingen, until then a world-renowned name representative of high quality steel goods and cutlery became synonymous with racism and hostility to foreigners, mentioned in the same breath as Hoyerswerda, Rostock and Moelln.
The weeks after the arson attack were characterized by embarrassment, horror and mourning by some, but also by protests, marches and even riots. Out of those weeks arose the desire for
* and dialogue.
One end product of these desires is \\\"Interju\\\", the organization for the promotion of international youth encounters in Solingen.
The Bertelsmann Foundation donated one million DM. Part of it was allotted to the family Genç. The other part funded the creation of a \\\"living memorial\\\", a place to promote the exchange and meeting of children and young people of different nationalities, cultures and religious backgrounds. To that end, the \\\"Interju\\\" organization was founded as union of different parties, active in the youth, social and migration sectors. Five representatives each of the major non-profit organizations, the Foreigner Advisory Committee, the city of Solingen and the city\\\'s urban youth circle were its founding parents. A home for it was quickly found - a house in the heart of Solingen-Ohligs quarter, which had already been used by the city for divers purposes - The then Head-of-State of North-Rhine/Westphalia Johannes Rau obtained national subsidization for the transformation and furnishing of the house and on July 24, 1995 the \\\"Internationale Jugendbegegnungsstätte\\\" (International Youth Meeting Center) was ceremoniously opened in presence of the Mr. Rau, the chairman of the Bertelsmann Foundation, Markus Woessner and the parents of the Genç family.
Since then, the association has seen rough times. Nonetheless, \\\"Interju\\\" has established a basis point where people of all nations and generations can meet. The daily number of visitors daily ranges between 80 and 150 from ages 3 to 85.