Friends in a Cold Climate: Schiedam-2b

NB This is the second of two interviews with Connie Eggink. Due to GDPR considerations the interview and accompanying visual materials are not open to public review. In 1970, Connie Eggink led a Schiedam exchange program starting in Esslingen, Germany. Esslingen played a significant role in organizing the exchange, which involved three other cities: Schiedam, Norrköping, and for the first time, Velenje from Yugoslavia. Otto Weinmann, a key figure in the Stadtjungendring, was instrumental in involving Velenje and promoting the European idea. The Velenje group stood out for being older and carefully selected to represent their country during the Tito era. Despite language barriers, the Yugoslavian group was intriguing for the other participants. The exchange garnered attention from South German Radio, which conducted interviews discussing perspectives on European unity.

In 1971, Connie's group traveled to Norrkoping, Sweden. They were invited to visit the Swedish Air Force, which was proud of its military equipment, showcasing their newly acquired F-13 aircraft. Connie was impressed by the presence of many women in the military, reflecting a more advanced state of gender equality compared to the Netherlands at the time. Concerns about the Iron Curtain were prevalent, with a collective desire to prevent intrusion from communist nations. The group expressed relief that countries behind the Iron Curtain were capable of defending themselves, though there was a reluctance for NATO involvement.

Annually, a meeting convened in Esslingen where administrators from various regions gathered to arrange exchange programs, ensuring simultaneous involvement of three groups from three countries. Photographs from these meetings captured the stark contrast between Dutch representatives, characterized by their casual appearance with beards and long hair, and officials from France, Germany, Italy, and Sweden, who appeared more formal and well-groomed. These meetings involved decision-makers such as administrators, councilors, and mayors, who were keen on their cities participating. Despite diverse backgrounds, they shared a commitment to promoting peace, driven by their experiences of war and a determination to prevent its recurrence, marking the ethos of their generation.

Connie was 18 or 19 when she joined the community. “You have grand ideas at that age. I've always been interested in languages; I found foreign languages fascinating at school. I've always tried to learn as many different languages as possible because it helps you understand other cultures and people.” Later on, she traveled extensively as a backpacker through South America, North Africa, and Africa to meet people and understand why they do what they do. She also pursued studies in psychology to seek understanding for what motivates people, why they act the way they do, why they stand opposed to each other instead of alongside. She had the idea for many years that youth exchanges did have an effect lasting 10 or 20 years. However, Connie thinks society has changed and that not much remains of what was created back then. She thinks the generations who are in their thirties now are not very concerned with this kind of thing anymore. (Project Friends in a Cold Climate 2023)

Metadata Access
Creator de Jager MA, E. J.
Publisher Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)
Contributor Erik J. de Jager MA, Stichting reis van de Razzia
Publication Year 2024
Rights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess; License:;
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Dataset
Discipline Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Aquaculture; Agriculture, Forestry, Horticulture, Aquaculture and Veterinary Medicine; History; Humanities; Life Sciences; Social Sciences; Social and Behavioural Sciences; Soil Sciences