Places of remembrance
In Thuringia, an early stronghold of National Socialism, the Nazi party had seats in the state parliament as early as 1930. After Hitler came into power on 30 January 1933, life became increasingly difficult for the Jews in Thuringia. Many lost their livelihood as a result of bans on employment, dismissals, boycotts and compulsory surrender of the enterprises and businesses they ran. In the pogrom night of 9 November 1938, synagogues went up in flames all over Thuringia. Subsequently, nearly 10,000 Jewish men from the whole of Germany were taken to the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar. When the SS cleared the camps in the east during the final phase of the Second World War, it drove thousands more Jews into the concentration camps in Thuringia. Today, this part of Thuringian history is remembered at a number of memorial locations, including Weimar, Nordhausen and Erfurt.
The Buchenwald concentration camp was operated on Ettersberg Hill near Weimar from 1937 until 11 April 1945. From August 1945, the Soviet occupation forces used the site as an internment camp (Special Camp No. 2) until 1950.
After 1990, the history of the location was the subject of new research and the memorial was remodelled. The new permanent exhibition opened in April 2016, entitled "Buchenwald. Exclusion and Violence from 1937 to 1945", has been jointly designed by survivors, historians, museum scientists and history educationalists. Using biographies, testimonials and case histories as examples, it not only presents the reality of the Buchenwald concentration camp system with its 139 external camps but also highlights the political and social reasons for their creation and acceptance.
Further information at: www.buchenwald.de
Guided tours of the memorial
A guided tour of the memorial is offered for groups. These programmes are primarily designed for school classes (from Year 9), youth groups and young adults, who have prepared for their visit to the memorial at school and in their politics classes. The minimum age is 15 years and the group can consist of between 15 and a maximum of 30 people. At least 3 hours must be planned for the programme, including the tour. There is a choice of a general tour (approx. 1 1/2 hours) and a comprehensive site tour (approx. 2 1/2 hours). Site tours focus on principal themes (by arrangement) and are dependent on the weather.
The Association for Furtherance of Remembrance of the Buchenwald Concentration Camp (Förderverein Buchenwald e.V.) offers guided tours for individual visitors from Tuesday to Sunday and on public holidays at the following times.
Guided tours in a language other than German should be arranged in advance. The exhibition is in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish.
Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial
Upon relocation of arms production programmes (V1 and V2 production) to the Kohnstein tunnels, the external Dora camp near Nordhausen was created at the end of August 1943 and later became the Mittelbau concentration camp. More than 20,000 people from many different nations became the victims of forced labour and camp terror. Today, the memorial comprises the site of the former concentration camp, including the surviving buildings and parts of the underground plants of the former Mittelwerk. As part of its educational mission, the memorial offers a permanent exhibition, changing special exhibitions, guided tours, publications, educational seminars, film shows and a documentation centre with archives and library.
Please note: the exhibition is currently in German and English.
Further information at: www.dora.de
Topf & Söhne Place of Remembrance
In the 1920s, the Erfurt company of J. A. Topf & Söhne made their name with the construction of particularly discreet cremation incinerators. But when, from 1939 onwards, the SS required incinerators for the Buchenwald, Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps to burn the bodies of those murdered there, Topf & Söhne developed and built these too. In the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. the Erfurt company played a part in the genocide of the European Jews and the Sinti and Roma. It supplied the corpse incinerators for the large-scale crematoria and installed ventilation technology in the gas chambers.
This place of remembrance on the former company site in Erfurt was opened on 27 January 2011, exactly 66 years after Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet forces. So the State Capital of Erfurt has recognised its responsibility to history in this way and has established a place of learning.
Further information at: www.topfundsoehne.de