Karsten Wilke about his work
BGHS Alumnus Karsten Wilke (right side of the picture) during the "Woche der Berufsorientierung". Picture: Andreas Hermwille
What is the next step after finishing the PhD? In what kind of jobs is it possible to connect the research projects from the past with the new tasks? One example for a well working connection between academic and working career is BGHS Alumnus Karsten Wilke. He graduated in history and is now working for Mobile Beratung gegen Rechts OWL, an Anti-Rightist institution in Eastern Westphalia. He spoke about his work at the Woche der Berufsorientierung, an event for carrier opportunities at Bielefeld University.
Wilke made his first steps in the field when he was a young adult. “In Vlotho, the town I grew up, there was an educational centre of extreme rightists. We founded a group to enlight the town about the centre's ideology.”
Using the knowledge to classify rightist symbols
When Wilke came to Bielefeld University, he studied history and did his PhD at the BGHS to the topic Die 'Hilfsgemeinschaft auf Gegenseitigkeit der Angehörigen der ehemaligen Waffen-SS' (HIAG). Organisierte Veteranen der Waffen-SS zwischen Integration und Systemopposition 1950-1990“ [Mutual aid association of former Waffen-SS members].
In his job for Mobile Beratung gegen Rechts OWL he connected his engagements from the past with his new knowledge. His expertise in history helped him to classify rightists and Nazi symbols or statements.
The tasks for the Mobile Beratung gegen Rechts OWL ranges from giving advice to clients, networking with other organisations which deal with rightists, supporting institutions in their prevention work, finally researching the ideolgy and ideas of extreme right-wing movements in Eastern Westphalia.
No relaxing working field
Beside typical formats - like going into schools where pupils with right wing symbols or statements were noticed - there is need for special expertise in the field of conspiracy theories at the moment. “It is rather difficult to find access to these people, since they have built for themselves their own conceptions of the world”, Wilke says.
It is not very surprising, that Wilke's job is not that relaxing. Although he says, he was never attacked personally, his insitution receives lots of insulting mails concerning their work. And most of the cases, ecpecially if teenager or young adults are involved, are caused by deeper problems in the families. “You need a thick skin”, he sums up. “Because there are some stories you cannot forget.”
Further information:The BGHS Alumni
Career Service – Woche der Berufsorientierung (in German)
Mobile Beratung gegen Rechts OWL (in German)