After 33 years, on 30 June 2022, Prof Garbe retired; a person who has tirelessly served the culture of remembrance in Hamburg.
Detlef Garbe was born in 1956 in Göttingen and studied history, religious studies and education at the University of Hamburg. In 1982 he was one of the founders of the project group for the forgotten victims of the Nazi regime. His doctorate on the history of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the ‘Third Reich’ is seen as the standard work on the history of persecution of religious minorities.
Detlef Garbe has led the Neuengamme Concentration Camp memorial since 1989. He has also been the chairman of the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres since 2020. In 2019 the Hamburg Senate awarded him the honorary title of professor for his contributions to the culture of remembrance in Hamburg.
Prof. Garbe has published numerous academic works on topics such as the history of concentration camps, the judicial system of the Wehrmacht, dealing with the past and and on victim groups that have been neglected in the public consciousness. These contributions and his untiring commitment to coming to terms with the Nazi past have helped to promote a willingness for Hamburg to examine its history more critically.
Many colleagues and friends came to the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial to honour Detlef Garbe. Speakers included Carola Veit (President of the Hamburg Parliament), Dr. Carsten Brosda (Senator for Culture and Media and Chairman of the Foundation Board), Prof. Dr. Günter Morsch (Member of the Expert Commission), Dr. Martine Letterie (President of the Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme) and Ulrike Jensen (Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial).
Dr Carsten Brosda (Senator for Culture and Media): "Detlef Garbe is known and highly regarded for his curiosity and knowledge; as a historian, as chairman of the foundation, as a colleague und as a person. He has the ability to recognise the main strands of a topic and underpin them with precise details. Without Detlef Garbe Hamburg’s culture of memory would not be where it is today. Together with the foundation he has brought remembrance ever further into our consciousness but also geographically into the heart of the city. Thank you Detlef Garbe!"
Dr Martine Letterie (President of the Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme): "The Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme is extremely grateful to Detlef Garbe for his tireless fight against forgetting; for the way he has shaped the culture of remembrance not only in Hamburg, but also in Germany and internationally; and last but not least for the wonderful, respectful cooperation and friendship".
Dr Oliver von Wrochem (Director of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial): "The Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres and in particular the Neuengamme Concentration Camp have a lot to thank Detlef Garbe for. Prof. Garbe has helped to establish and shape the remembrance landscape in Hamburg and the whole of northern Germany like no other. His commitment to a diverse public remembrance of National Socialism that is anchored in civil society is also influential for the future actions of the Foundation and its staff."
On the occasion of Detlef Garbe's retirement, Metropol-Verlag is publishing the Festschrift "Entdeckendes Lernen. Orte der Erinnerung an die Opfer der nationalsozialistischen Verbrechen" (Neuengammer Kolloquien Vol. 7). Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres by Habbo Knoch and Oliver von Wrochem.