In August 2020 the International Youth Meeting Centre hosted its first digital study camp “Searching for Traces of Forced Labour” in cooperation with Service Civil International Germany. Twelve participants from Bangladesh, China, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Serbia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine searched for traces of forced labour in their home countries. They focused on Nazi forced labour and other examples from the Second World War period but also on modern forms of forced and unfree labour. In less than two weeks they created a digital exhibition “Forced and Unfree Labour. Our Point of View” where they presented their visual stories.
The Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre will reopen the historical site of the former Nazi forced labour camp on Tuesday, 12 May. For the time being, access is restricted to a maximum of 50 visitors, subject to the rules of distance. From Tuesday to Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., visitors can inform themselves about the history of the Berlin-Schöneweide forced labour camp in the extensive outdoor area.
The exhibition of the Berlin regional museums "Forced Labour in Berlin 1938-1945" is still accessible without restriction, regardless of the opening hours at the outer fence to Britzer Straße.
The date for the reopening of the two permanent exhibitions as well as the opening of the planned special exhibition "Ausgeschlossen. Archäologie der NS-Zwangslager" will be announced in time.
The current online project for the liberation of the camps in Berlin will be continuously expanded until the end of May with new information and voices of surviving forced laborers: https://www.zwangslager-berlin-1945.de/en/
In February, the four-day podcast workshop "Story(s) in the ear, pictures in the head" took place at our documentation center. Xenia and Florian dealt with the topic of forced labor under National Socialism, interviewed visitors and talked to Corinne Douarre, daughter of a French forced laborer, about musical memory work.
You can listen to the (German) result of their recordings here.
We are currently not allowed to let guests into our exhibitions, so we bring an exhibition to the guests. From April 13, the exhibition "Forced Labor in Berlin 1938-1945" will be on the fence of the Documentation Center Ns-Forced Labor along Britzer Strasse.
Who were the people who had to do forced labor in Berlin, where did they come from and under what conditions did they have to live and work? Who were the profiteers and who organized and administered the use of forced labor? What was the post-war fate of the survivors? What traces did the mass deployment of forced labor leave behind in the Berlin urban space and in the memory of the Berlin population? These and other questions are explored in this exhibition, which was developed on the basis of regional research conducted by eleven regional museums and institutions in 2002.
When the city of Berlin surrendered to the Red Army on 2 May 1945, there were approximately 370,000 forced labourers in the entire city area. Prisoners of war, concentration camp prisoners and so-called civilian workers. Most of them were still in their places of work and in the camps at the end of the war. The weeks of April and May 1945 were marked by hunger, desperation, fear, resistance and hope.
Many former forced labourers from Western and Southern Europe were still able to return to their home countries in summer 1945, either alone or with the help of Allied repatriation transports. Other liberated persons tried to resist the repatriation. Particularly in the Soviet Union, those returning were long suspected of treason and collaboration with the Germans.
The history of the liberation of the Nazi forced labour camps in Berlin has not yet been comprehensively reappraised. In commemoration of the end of the war, we take the 75th anniversary as an opportunity to turn our attention to the former forced labourers. How did they experience the last weeks of the war? What was their first contact with the Allies like? What happened to the liberated camps?
On our blog zwangslager-berlin-1945.de we document eyewitness reports, diary excerpts, letters and memories from the Berlin area.
You can also find information on our social media channels at #Zwangslager1945 #75Befreiung #75liberation
The Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre, like all Berlin memorial sites, will be closed from 13 March until further notice for current reasons.
Unfortunately, no public guided tours or events can take place during this period.
We ask for your kind understanding.
Dr. Christine Glauning and the team of the Nazi Forced Labour Documentation Centre
On October 25, 2019, Vera Friedländer died at the age of 91. The National Socialists had persecuted the Berlin woman as a "half-Jew". At the age of 16 she had to do forced labor in various companies, including a shoe repair shop of the Salamander company in Kreuzberg.
Later, the Germanist became involved and emeritus professor for the reappraisal of forced labor. This year she visited the Documentation Centre for Nazi Forced Labor again and talked to young people about her history of persecution.
Mrs. Friedländer's voice will be missing. She understood that people listened to her and thought about her words. We, employees of the Documentation Centre, were also influenced by her visits.
21 August - 27 October 2019
The installation GE-SCHICHTE_N by the artist Jolanda Todt invites visitors to look at the German occupation of Poland 1939-1945 - literally touching history. The artwork consists of 60 concrete panels on which various materials have been applied: modern photographs, historical documents, and excerpts from a contemporary witness interview. Each concrete slab opens up a different approach to history. The fragments can combine with individual prior knowledge and associations. Only by carefully analysing the materials can visitors learn that the spread of history also conceals a personal story. The more visitors deal with the material, the narrower the framework within which the information can be interpreted.