Visit of survivors of the extermination camps in Ozarichi 1944

August 11th, 2017

On August 11, 2017, the Kunstraum was the site of a visit to Leuphana University by a group of six women from Ozarichi in Belarus - Lidija Dormasch, Maria Nowik, Maria Schetschko, Maria Lapowa, Valentina Odnokrylowa and Valentina Schislo. This meeting at the University was initiated by the Working Group on Commemorative Culture at Leuphana and organized by the Kunstraum as the venue for the 2017 exhibitions Hinterbühne I-III, which were not least related to the war crimes of 1944 in the Ozarichi area. Beate Söntgen, Vice President, Kathrin van Riesen, Equal Opportunity Officer and Léa Oltmanns, Asta Spokesperson of the University as well as Ulf Wuggenig participated with welcoming speeches. Starting from the seminar “The Illusion of Memory”, this meeting also included an exchange with representatives of three generations of students, some of whom had participated in the Kunstraum project “The Archives of Grandparents” with Christian Boltanski in 1995 and 1996.

As children, the visitors survived one of the most horrific death camps established by the Wehrmacht. No less than 9,000 civilians, women, children, the old and the sick, “useless eaters” in Nazi jargon, were killed in these camps and on the way there. The site-specific reference arises from the fact that the war crime of Ozarichi was committed in 1944 with the significant participation of soldiers from the 110th Infantry Division, also known as the “Viking Division”, which was formed in Lüneburg in December 1940 for the “Operation Barbarossa”. Parts of this unit, whose tradition association met in the city of Lüneburg and partly in the Scharnhorst Barracks until the early 1990s, were stationed in the Lüneburg Scharnhorst Barracks during World War 2 or were set in motion from this location, where the University of Lüneburg has been located since 1993, towards the East as part of the racist war of extermination against the Soviet Union, which at the time included Belarus. The Lüneburg Infantry Division finally surrendered in July 1944 in the immediate vicinity of the Malyj Trostenenz concentration camp near Minsk.