Over the last decade, as part of the federal concept for memorial sites, twenty new permanent exhibitions were developed. This dissertation undertakes to examine exhibitions created at memorial sites for victims of the Nazi regime from an educational and museological viewpoint. Expert interviews with exhibition curators serve as the basis for the empirical study. The author has worked for many years in the field of memorial museums education. He applied “action research,” developed in German-speaking countries under the term “Handlungsforschung.” The study analyzes the specific characteristics of the work conducted in museums, memorial sites and educational centres and also addresses the strained connection between commemoration and learning in the educational work of the memorial museums for the Nazi victims. The study also evaluates the practical impact of these aims. The very intense form of commemorative work that is conducted in Germany is justified by the nature of its subject matter: the stigmatization of specific victim groups during the Nazi era according to a system of political, racist-biological and social characteristics and the vast dimensions of the genocide.
The socially and politically explosive nature of this task is manifested by the commemoration of the “other” victims as well as by the responsibility that Germany bears for addressing its “own” perpetrators in society. The central findings of the study show that the new exhibitions embrace a much more comprehensive foundation of historical material (historical knowledge, building history and archeological significance of the crime sites, written and audio-visual survival testimony and artifacts) as was previously the case. The professionalization of the “field of memorial museums” has led to a more intensively reflected and sensitive approach to handling documents, illustrations and objects on display in a museum. In particular, the significance of the relationship between the artifacts and their location, their sources, an appreciation for their origins and a critical reflection of what it is they convey is achieved. This also applies to photography. (Written by author)
The above abstract is taken from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Education Research Project. Please also consult the full list of abstracts in 15 languages and the accompanying publication Research in Teaching and Learning about the Holocaust: A Dialogue Beyond Borders.
Ed: IHRA, Monique Eckmann, Doyle Stevick, Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs, 2017, Metropol Verlag at http://www.holocaustremembrance.com/publications.