Seasonal Newsletter to the survivors of the Neuengamme concentration camp, their relatives and friends of the Memorial
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
Like every year, I am writing to you personally at the end of the year to thank you for your support in 2018, to look back at the projects and issues the Memorial has dealt with this past year, but most of all to send you my best wishes for the coming New Year.
The continually growing strength of right-wing populist movements shows us how relevant it still is today to examine Germany’s Nazi past and how important it is to keep the public informed and reminded of this past. These movements not only propagate openly revisionist takes on German history, but they have also launched a broader and more general attack on memorial culture as a whole. At this moment in time, we are in dire need of a stronger memorial culture and a more respectful societal debate, and we need more international exchange instead of more nationalism, more integration and less division. We will continue on our path of discussion and information with growing demand for our educational activities, particularly from German schools, our discussion and research seminars, the Future of Remembrance Forum or the Reflections on Family History Affected by Nazi Crimes project. I currently feel that countering right-wing populism might be the greatest challenge we currently face.
It is very important to us as an institution to continue to develop new formats and take new paths. This can take the form of initiating collaborations with other concentration camp memorials on Twitter or of developing new educational formats aimed at new target groups. We also developed teaching materials on the connection between colonial and racist thought and National-Socialist ideology and practice. These materials focus particularly on the experiences of victims of discrimination and persecution. Our guided excursions and tours to sites of Nazi persecution and/or anti-Nazi resistance in the city once again proved very popular this past year, and we will continue to offer these activities which regularly captured the attention of the public.
Our visitors travel to the Memorial from many different countries. In fact, the majority of individual visitors to Neuengamme is from outside Germany. This is why our information leaflet is now available in 14 different languages, and our guides are even able to offer tours in 15 different languages, from English through Italian to Farsi. This year, our volunteers in the programme organised by Action Reconciliation – Service for Peace are Belarussian and Palestinian. 22 young people from Azerbaijan, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam attended our International Summer Camp and drew up a small exhibition which is now shown at the former SS bunker in the grounds of the Memorial.
The exhibition Around the Alster. Hamburg’s Nazi History at Hamburg City Hall was the first of several special exhibitions we showed this year. The 48 panels and the extensive programme of events that accompanied the exhibition dealt with subjects such as the use of power and force, opportunism and protest, non-conformist behaviour and resistance, architectural and industrial history, the city’s war-time economy and forced labour. Another event that was widely covered in the media was the opening of the Ralph Giordano Library in February. 3,300 books from the private library of the Hamburg-born Jewish writer are now on display at the Neuengamme Memorial. They share a room upstairs from the Open Archive’s learning workshop with the books from the estate of former political prisoner Fritz Bringmann.
In the spring we opened two temporary exhibitions: Colonial and Racist Thought in National-Socialist Ideology and In the Shadow of Auschwitz, the latter an exhibition by photographer Mark Mühlhaus which consists of photographs from lesser known sites of Nazi mass murder in Germany and Eastern Europe. In the summer, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the air raids on Hamburg, we presented the exhibition Only Ruins Lay Before Us. Concentration camp prisoners on clearance details after Operation Gomorrah, which also drew considerable media response. We’ll also address this subject in our upcoming exhibition at Hamburg City Hall entitled A City and Its Concentration Camp. Prisoners of the Neuengamme concentration camp in war-time Hamburg 1943-1945. This exhibition will be our 20th contribution to the commemorative events surrounding Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January 2019.
On 1 November, the four new staff members of the Hannoverscher Bahnhof memorial started work in their offices at Neuengamme. Their task will be to draw up an exhibition for the memorial in the newly developed neighbourhood of HafenCity. This new documentation centre, which will be opened in 2021, will be another important site where Hamburg locals and visitors can examine the city’s Nazi past.
This year, like the last years, we again had to say goodbye to survivors of the Neuengamme concentration camp who had lent great support to our work for decades. They include Dagmar Lieblová, Hana Weingarten and Wim Aloserij. They are greatly missed.
I would like to express my deep gratitude for all the support we received this year and, on behalf of all the staff here at the Memorial, I would like to wish you all a happy festive season as well as good health and peace for the New Year.
Rundbrief zum Jahresende