www.waswillstdutun.de: A new online exhibition portrays 21 people with diverse family histories during National Socialism and World War II and shows the impact of family history on identity, thinking and social action.
77 years ago, the National Socialist regime was defeated. This marked the end of the Second World War in Europe. But the period of National Socialism and the Second World War left traces around the world, which have remained until today. Amongst the German public, commemoration of the National Socialist crimes is now firmly established. In most families, however, the experiences and actions of the grandparents' and great-grandparents' generation are not an issue. At the same time, the perspectives of those who are descendants of Nazi persecutees, or those who have a personal or shared experience of immigration, are hardly heard.
The new online exhibition www.waswillstdutun.de of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, features those whose relatives were persecuted for anti-Semitic, racist, political or other reasons. However, the stories of those whose relatives were bystanders, profiteers or perpetrators are also told. People whose relatives were Allied soldiers or whose ancestors were only indirectly affected by the crimes of the National Socialists in their everyday lives also have their say. The families of the people portrayed lived in various European countries, in North America and in Asia. In four exhibition chapters, the interviewees talk about their family stories and its impact on their own lives in short video clips. Descendants of Nazi persecutees talk about the influence of National Socialist rule and persecution on a societal and individual level. In addition, the interviewees talk about their own ideals and social commitment and ask themselves how people with different family histories can talk with one another.
Educational materials for the online exhibition were developed for pedagogical work in schools and extracurricular places of learning for the target group of 16-27 year olds. They contain inclusive, easily accessible and playful exercises based on the topics featured in the online exhibition. The educational materials were tested in workshops at schools and with groups of extracurricular educational institutions and are now being incorporated into the regular work of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. The materials will be available for download from mid-December.
Natascha Höhn (project worker): "Many young people ask the question "What does this have to do with me?" when they are asked to deal with National Socialism and the Second World War. An important part of the project is to make young people aware that their relatives, who lived between 1933 and 1945, are their personal connection to this period. Through the accounts of the people portrayed in the exhibition, they realise that the family stories build diverse biographical bridges between the past and the present, which are worth exploring and reflecting on. The stories also motivate people to get involved socially."
Julia Gilfert (granddaughter of a victim of the Nazi "euthanasia" murders): "Dealing with one's family history should not be something special, not a privilege - because: we ALL have family histories, we can all explore them. The people before us have left traces - sometimes more, sometimes less, which is also due to the different circumstances - and that still raises the question: What have they passed on to me? And what traces will or do I want to leave behind?"
The project was funded as part of the programme "Youth Remembers" by the Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media. The project team members were Swenja Granzow-Rauwald, Thorsten Fehlberg and Natascha Höhn.