07/03/2015 Project, Exhibition

“Casting Light on a Dark Place”

An art installation created by the Anna Warburg School in collaboration with Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial and Friends of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial.

Seventy years ago, 20 Jewish children from Auschwitz concentration camp were brought to Neuengamme concentration camp and abused for medical experiments. They were killed on 20 April 1945 in an empty school building on Bullenhuser Damm Street in the Hamburg suburb of Rothenburgsort. Today, the former school building houses a memorial.

Memorials are places to remember and learn about history. They also serve as reminders. As such, they need to integrate newer forms of remembering. That is why the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial regularly offers young people a chance to engage intensively with the site and reflect on the significance of remembrance while developing their own artistic forms of remembering. This is the first time that the memorial has cooperated with the Anna Warburg School, a vocational school for social pedagogy in Niendorf. Working in teams, the pupils came up with their very own approach to remembering, using the language of today.

Working with symbolism, they developed their own ideas for installations. The design by Julia Sledzianowski, Simone Kock and Cindy Scharf was selected by the jury to be presented at the memorial. This installation confronts visitors with the issue of guilt. Using lights and figures cut out of cardboard, shadows are cast on the walls of the rooms were the crime was committed. The shadows symbolize both perpetrators and victims. Above the shadows are speech bubbles in which the perpetrators, who actually committed the crime, appear to be denying any responsibility, claiming they were only following orders. The other shadows symbolize the prisoners – the children and the adults – killed at Bullenhuser Damm.

The pupils commented on their installation by saying, “Shadows are very fleeting and aren’t meant for eternity. People, on the other hand, leave traces. Light also plays a role in our installation. Light is shone on the past, bringing it back. Light shows the truth; light is hope.” That visitors also cast shadows on the wall makes them also part of the installation, encouraging them to reflect on their own responsibility for what they do as well as the decisions they make. Visitors are thus meant to become more aware that they are part of a whole. As the pupils said, “They help to make sure that history won’t be forgotten.”


The art installation was set up on 28 June 2015 and can be visited during the opening hours of the Bullenhuser Damm Memorial (Sundays between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.).