Backstage I

Mar 9 to Apr 20, 2017

Exhibition in three parts and three phases

»Ozarichi, März 1944« in UC, Hall 25
»Megalothymia« in UC, building 10, ground floor
Christian Boltanski, »Die Archive der Großeltern« in UC, building 7, basement

Opening of »Backstage I« on Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 7pm in lecture hall 5 with contributions by Karin Rebbert, M.A. (curator, cultural scientist, Berlin), Prof. Dr. Christoph Rass (historian, University of Osnabrück), Prof. Dr. Ulf Wuggenig (sociologist, Leuphana) as well as the President of the Leuphana University, Prof.(HSG) Dr. Sascha Spoun, and film screening of »Ozarichi 1944 – Spuren eines Kriegsverbrechens« by Christoph Rass et. al., 2006, as well as footage of the Red Army on the liberation of the camps in 1944, Kunstraum, Campus Hall 25, 8:30pm.

History, remembrance culture and remembrance politics

In 1905, George Santayana, a Spanish immigrant to the United States, formulated the words: »Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.« Santayana 1905 The philosopher’s aphorism became a guiding thought of reflective remembrance culture, which was also taken up by German-language cultural sciences. Santayana may have had the colonial violence of the 16th century and European imperialism of the 19th century in mind, but the experience of the 20th century with its multiple variants of cultural, structural and direct violence Cf Galtung 1988 that also employed new means and technologies, e.g. the extermination camps, industrial killing or strategic bombardment, was for the most part yet to be made.

Today, a historical-philosophical approach like that of Santayana sees itself confronted with notions of the new or »alternative« right, for example, those of the journalist and filmmaker Stephen Bannon who has advanced to become a presidential adviser. In his view, history is the eternal recurrence of the same, formulated in the Twitter style of the social media: »In history, there are four turnings. The crisis. The high. The awakening. The unravelling. History repeats itself.«  Cf Frank 2017

Assessments that adhere neither to a cyclical nor a deterministic understanding of history now often fear that social movements of this sort might also spread in Germany and that developments from the 1930s could repeat themselves in a mutated form. As announced in November 2016 during the Kunstraum-workshop »Erinnerungskultur – Erinnerungspolitik. Der Campus, seine militärische Vergangenheit in den 1930er/1940er Jahren und adäquate Formen der Erinnerung vor dem Hintergrund von Rechtspopulismus und neo-faschistischen Tendenzen« [Remembrance Culture - Remembrance Politics. The Campus, ist Military Past in the 1930s/40s and Adequate Forms of Remembrance Against the Background of Rightwing Populism and Neo-Fascist Tendencies] with Michaela Melián and Christoph Schäfer (both Hamburg), among others, the Kunstraum now initiates a remembrance-cultural and remembrance-political discourse against the background of a confusing blindness toward history on the local campus. After last year’s opening workshop, this discourse will be continued first with the exhibition »Backstage I« in March 2017, followed by »Backstage II« in April 2017 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the bombardment of Guernica/Gernika.

This German-Italian military intervention in the Spanish civil war anchored in the cultural memory worldwide through Picasso’s iconic anti-war painting, is also connected to Lüneburg. Dr. Ing. Wolfram von Richthofen, who with his family was a »temporary Lüneburg citizen« from 1938–1945, was responsible on an operational level. Von Richthofen was initially chief of staff, the commander of the German Legion Condor constituted against international law. The city honored him after his »victorious« return in 1939 by renaming a big street, a tangent to the airfield built on location in 1937 that later became a heritage-protected Bundeswehr barrack (today’s Theodor Körner Kaserne), Legion-Condor-Strasse. Numerous soldiers of the local air force unit set up at the base of Legion Condor (bomber wing »Löwengeschwader« KG 257, later KG 26) gained their first combat experience in Spain. Also in 1939, the Silesian aristocrat, as an officer who was then (and until his death in 1945) fully supportive of Hitler, appeared in Lüneburg in front of an audience of 30,000 enthralled people together with the leading local representatives of the NSDAP. Lüneburg, which had advanced to the district capital of Gau East-Hanover in 1937, celebrated a District Day at the time.

The term »backstage« is taken up from Erving Goffman, who with the metaphorical distinction between front stage and backstage in social forms of appearance separates the dimensions of human life deemed presentable from those that are kept hidden. Backstages are therefore places or regions from which the audience is prevented access or insight. However, the concept of the backstage applies not only to places but also to artefacts and actors screened in regard to all or some of their special features: to forms of (self-)presentation or identity construction accompanied by strategies of information-control, secrecy, distortion, concealment, and the covering of one’s tracks, or that are based on disinformation and the construction of fictive facts. Goffman’s distinction between front stage and backstage can also be applied to the micro-level of acting individuals and the meso- or macro-level of collective actors, such as associations, institutions, cities, or nations.

Christian Boltanski, »The Archives of the Grandparents«

Backstages (and backstage strategies) are certainly even more relevant for military fields—with which the exhibition parts »Megalothymia« and »Ozarichi, March 1944« deal—than for political or artistic fields. »The Archives of the Grandparents,« a work by Christian Boltanski, which in 1996 was installed on the backstage of the university, in the basement of the datacenter, is now made accessible again in the exhibition and makes it clear that Goffman’s frame of reference can easily be applied to the production, interpretation and social usage of artistic practice as well. The artist Laura Lopéz Paniagua, who participated in the seminar »Die Illusion des Gedächtnisses« [The Illusion of Memory] preparing the exhibition along with alumni of Boltanski’s project group from 1995/96 (Saskia Drechsel, Gesine Märkl and Jens Krämer), wrote an essay on Boltanski’s installation that accompanies ist presentation and is available there in written form. Paniagua 2017

While the system theorist Niklas Luhmann, the probably best-known former citizen of Lüneburg, stresses that »the main function of memory lies in forgetting, in preventing the system from blocking itself by concealing the results of earlier observations,«  Luhmann 1998 »Backstage« takes up approaches in remembrance-theoretical and -political regard that, like Santayana’s, stress not the function of forgetting in the context of memory, but the role of remembering. In sociological respect, another point of reference in terms of the remembrance-cultural and –political discourse pursued by the Kunstraum is, alongside Goffman’s dramaturgy, the critical sociology of Pierre Bourdieu: »The function of sociology, as of every science, is to reveal that which is hidden.«  Bourdieu 1998

»Megalothymia«, storage memory and communicative memory

Taking a site-specifically approach, »Megalothymia» deals with the political and military field of the 1930s and 40s, in »Backstage II« especially with Wolfram von Richthofen, one of the masterminds behind building up and deploying the Wehrmacht’s air force, as well as responsible for setting the course for the construction of rockets and first types of machines later labeled as cruise missiles.

A further focus is on the local culture and politics of remembrance utilizing new means. The assumed research perspective is not artistic, but cartographic and factographic, on a methodical level partially obliged to the digital humanities, to »distant reading« (Franco Moretti) and visual studies. Spanning 70 years, this part of the exhibition systematically engages with relevant moments of the local cultural memory related to the military field and for the first time grants systematic insights into its dynamism. Analyses of this sort became possible because the research work was able to make us of the digitized archive, now comprising almost 600,000 digitized pages, of the key local newspaper, the Landeszeitung für die Lüneburger Heide, (and its precursor, the Lüneburger Post) from the beginning of 1946 to 2016. Compared with the source situation on the military field around 10 years ago, when the Kunstraum in the frame of the »Moirés« project (with Andreas Fogarasi, Urtica and Astrid Wege) Kastelan/ Wuggenig 2008 and »The University in the Civil Society of the 21st Century – Architectural, Artistic and Field-theoretical Aspects« (with Daniel Libeskind) Kunstraum 2007 for the first time pursued military-historical questions that had been neglected at the university, the implications of the digital transformation became quite evident. The exponential growth of the »storage memory« fundamentally changed the »cultural memory« (Jan and Aleida Assmann), as well as the possibilities for cultural, sociological and also artistic research.

The subtitle of the exhibition chosen in both cases, »Megalothymia,« responds not least to the diagnosis of »thymotic shortage« in German society made by a political party philosopher teaching at the Kunsthochschule Karlsruhe. This contemporary diagnosis laments the marginalization of the »soul-faculty« (Plato) of thymos vis-àvis the faculties of logos and eros, allegedly a lack of anger, outrage and the ability to put up a fight in German society, in other words, a »thymotic level« that seems too low. On the new right’s obsession with thymos cf Helg 2016, Bender/ Bingener 2016

»Megalothymia« is a neologism that does not stem from these new right-wing circles. It was coined by Francis Fukuyama in a critical turn against the glorification of thymos and »master morality.« »It is clear that megalothymia is a highly problematic passion for political life.«  Fukuyama 1992

In traditional nobility, not least in Prussian junkerdom, the social embodiment of »megalothymia« was represented ideal-typically as a belligerent male stance, as »master race thinking« that included a self-understanding as being a member of a »master race« and representing the »master morality,« someone who, as Nietzsche wrote, »takes pleasure in subjecting himself to severity and hardness, and has reverence for all that is severe and hard.« Nietzsche 1886 In the National Socialist interpretation of Nietzsche, or also Spengler, the »megalothmymic master race« is the opposite of the »subhuman« whose alleged biological or cultural inferiority makes it appear legitimate to wage a war of destruction based on racist or political beliefs and decide upon the life and death of entire peoples and social groups.

What also proved to be productive in the area of communicative memory was the integration in the local »Arbeitskreis Gedenkkultur« [Study Group Remembrance Culture], in the frame of which an exchange took place between representatives of the Kunstraum (Cornelia Kastelan, Ulf Wuggenig), members of the VVN-BdA Lüneburg, the AStA [General Students’ Committee], the Cultural Sciences faculty of the Leuphana University, the Museum Lüneburg, as well as persons out of civil society interested in the culture of remembrance and memorials. This led to numerous new insights, not least into the 110th Infantry Division set up in Lüneburg in 1940 and partially stationed in the Scharnhorst barracks—now »converted« to the university—and its, for the most part disregarded, involvement in the outrageous war crimes in the region of Ozarichi in Belarus in march 1944.

Das »Löwengeschwader« und Łódź

To gain new insights, two visits were made to the only one of the three barracks built by the National Socialists in the 1930s that is still being used by the Bundeswehr—one visit with the AK Gedenkkultur [Study Group Remembrance Culture], the other with the seminar »Die Illusion des Gedächtnisses« [The Illusion of Memory] (Laura López Paniagua and Ulf Wuggenig) along with guests including the art historian Wolfgang Kemp and the architect Nicole Stöcklmayr.

This heritage-protected facility, named Theodor-Körner-Kaserne since 1964, is the Lüneburg airbase built from 1935 onward and filled with warplanes in 1937. Not only the later General Field Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen was active here as the commander of the Bomber Wing (KG) 257 (later KG 26), the »Löwengeschwader,« for half a year in 1938. Among the persons serving at the airbase was also, from April 1943 onward, later system theorist Niklas Luhmann, who was recruited as an air force helper when he was a 15-year-old student at the Lüneburger Gymnasium Johanneum, Cf Johanneum Grammar School Lüneburg with constantly changing deployment locations (Lüneburg, Rotenburg, Stade).

Group II of the »Löwengeschwader« KG 257 (KG 26) participated in the Poland campaign from the onset. One of the surprising new insights gained from the research in the context of the seminar »The Illusion of Memory« was the fact that, as an all but eerie coincidence, it was the Lüneburg group of the Bomber Wing that during the initial days of World War II and the attack on Poland was ordered on September 3, 1939, to bomb the area of Łódź, where Daniel Libeskind was later born. The bombardment of train station facilities by. Group II was carried out, but that of the airfield on the same day was cancelled, to then be carried out a day later on September 4 by the Group I. On the same day, the 5th Squadron of Group II of KG 26, which was about to be deployed to Łódź, eliminated itself to a large extent in a »big bang,« when their own bombs exploded at the Gabbert airfield (since 1945 Jaworze), destroying two planes and damaging seven others. The bomber wing was thus among the first war victims. Cf Steenbeck 2014, 2012

Today, the barracks installed on the former airbase are interesting in remembrance-cultural and remembrance-political regard not least because they accommodate not only a highly contested monument to this »Löwengeschwader« but also numerous memorial stones to various military units, often boulders with totem-like emblems arranged in a semicircle. One of them is the memorial stone to the 110th Infantry Division (»Viking Division«), which was transferred from the former grove of honor in the entrance area of the Schornhorst Barracks, which was converted to the university in 1993, to the former airbase.

»Ozarichi, March 1944«

As announced during the Kunstraum workshop held in November, one of the aims of the remembrance-cultural and -political initiative is to start an exchange and cooperation with renowned military historians. In view of the historical connection of the 110th I.D., the only infantry division of the Wehrmacht deployed specifically in Lüneburg, with the city and the Scharnhorst Barracks, in which Daniel Libeskind massively intervened architecturally with a building inaugurated on March 11, 2017, the decision was made in favor of the historian Christoph Rass, Professor of Recent History and Historical Migration Research at the University of Osnabrück. He was immediately willing to collaborate and generously made his research material available. He did not specifically work on the 110th I.D.—a detailed scientific examination of its role in »Operation Barbarossa« and in connection with the war crimes in Belarus in particular is yet to be conducted, as it has been done with other units of the 9th Army, such as the 35th I.D. or the 253rd I.D. However, he has done intensive research on the war crimes committed in the area of Ozarichi (also called Osaritischi). He wrote his doctoral thesis on this massacre that began with deportations on March 11, 1944, and took place in one week:

»On March 19, 1944, units of the Red Army found three concentration camps in the environs of the town Osaritschi, 75 km south of the city of Bobruisk, that consisted of areas surrounded with barbed wire without buildings or sanitary facilities. There were more than 33,000 surviving civilians in these camps, mostly old persons, ill persons and mothers with young children, as well as 9,000 dead persons. They were mostly civilians incapable of labor who were no longer of any use to the Wehrmacht. Against the background of the military situation, the situation in the rear areas of the Heeresgruppe Mitte [Army Group Center], and as a consequence of the enslavement of the population capable of working and the deportation of persons incapable of labor already carried out before this point in time, the 9th Army had chosen a radical solution to the problem it had itself incurred: the deportation of left-behind family dependents who after the forced recruitment could no longer fend for themselves to concentration camps, which had been set up for this specific purpose, in the no-man’s land between the German and the Soviet front lines. The liberation of the survivors marks the endpoint of the war crime perpetrated by the 9th Army of the Wehrmacht in March 1944, the structures and dimensions of which exemplarily elucidate how deeply war actions against international law carried out by the field units of the Wehrmacht wereintegrated into the repertory of German warfare.« Rass 2003

Using a large part of the files still existing in German military archives for the first time, Christoph Rass examined the occurrences in Ozarichi from a social- and military-historical perspective. His account describes the »anatomy« of one of the most severe war crimes of the Wehrmacht on the eastern front as the sum of many centrally planned and interrelated individual actions needed to mount a complex criminal operation. Based on this, an unreleased documentary film was made in 2006 by Christoph Rass et al. that supplements the sources with interviews conducted with contemporary witnesses and further discovered files, thus comprehensively documenting the crime for the first time. Rass 2006 The film will be screened in the frame of the exhibition at the Kunstraum, along with films made by the Red Army when they liberated the concentration camp in March 1944.

What appeared interesting in the context of a reflective remembrance culture was, first of all, the 110th I.D. connected with the name of Lüneburg, which at the time in question was integrated in the 56th Tank Corps and the 9th Army, or the Heeresgruppe Mitte [Army Group Center], because the city of Lüneburg is not only the place where this unit was stationed, but also where a memorial of this »Wikingerdivision« stands, while the former airbase is where the memorial stone with the Viking symbol of this unit is located. After the war, Lüneburg continued to be the center of the meetings of the surviving veterans of this unit. They were warmly welcomed on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the city in March 1956, for example. On October 9, 1960, a war memorial was inaugurated near the center of Lüneburg, at the crossing of Am Graalwall and Am Springintgut, near the »Ritterakademie,« upon the initiative of the veteran and reserve officer of the Bundeswehr, Ernst Beyersdorff. The severe war crime of Ozarichi in March 1944 was addressed just as little on this occasion as in the chronicle of the division published by Beyersdorff in 1965 Beyersdorff 1965 — a case of deception, in the sense of Goffman, regarding an identity feature in the interest of legitimacy and the creation of an acceptable impression.

An awareness of this unit and its memorial in the city was raised—apart from the veteran circles and regular, albeit rare, reports on their meetings in the local newspaper—only as late as 2014 in the context of the discussions on a »Friedenspfad« [Peace Path] initiated by the VVN-BdA Lüneburg. VVN-BdA Lüneburg This was followed by interventions of visitors to the Lüneburg and Detmold Auschwitz trial in 2015. Cf Gottschalk 2016 However, this did not lead to a remembrance-cultural or –political response in Lüneburg or the region, as opposed to Karlsruhe, for example, where the Stadtarchiv [City Archive] published scientific reports on the 35th I.D. stationed there that was involved in the war crime of Ozarichi. Rohrkamp 2015 In the local newspaper, only a very brief article was published, in which the position of the VVN-BdA was related without making any statement of their own. Cf LZ 2015

In addition to the documentary film by Christoph Rass and the films of the Red Army, the exhibition presents evidence of the war crime in the form of historical sources as well as historical and contemporary scientific maps. Furthermore, there are texts written by the historian, in part with René Rohrkamp. »Ozarichi, March 1944« thus giving insights into the scientific reappraisal of a war crime largely ignored locally—be it in the city or the university—as the symptom of a crucial blind spot of remembrance culture. This certainly also has to do with the fact that there are no military historians teaching at the university. Not least to rectify this, the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Presidency of Leuphana University initiated a cooperation with the Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung (HIS), also known as the »Reemtsma-Institut,« in 2016.

Finally, it must be mentioned that the diagnosis of historical amnesia and blindness toward the crime of the 110th Infantry Division, which was recruited from the region of Lüneburg and the Lüneburger Heide, as well as the cities and regions of, among others, Hamburg, Harburg, Buchholz, and Stade, applies not only to the local, but to the northern German culture of remembrance in general. A detailed report of the massacre in Ozarichi was published by the Hamburg daily Die Welt no. 24 from March 11, 2014, Kellerhoff 2014 but it was completely attributed to southern German military units counter-factually excluding the northern German ones.

Text: Ulf Wuggenig

»Backstage I« in external cooperation with Prof. Dr. Christoph Rass (Historical Seminar, University of Osnabrück) for »Ozarichi, March 1994,« Dr. Marina Gerber (Queen Mary University of London) and Anneke de Rudder, M.A. (Museum Lüneburg), as well as internal cooperation with Dr. Christoph Behnke, Steven Brieger, M.A. (IOC), Dr. Nicole Stöcklmayr (MECS), Dr. Laura López Paniagua, and students of the master seminar »The illusion of memory«, exhibition organized by Prof. Dr. Ulf Wuggenig in collaboration with Cornelia Kastelan, M.A. (all Leuphana)


Beyersdorff, Ernst: Geschichte der 110. Infanterie-Division, Bad Nauheim 1965, p. 159.

Bourdieu, Pierre: On Television, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp 1998, p. 98.

Frank, Thomas: How Steve Bannon captured America’s spirit of revolt (10.02.2017), in: The Guardian,

Fukuyama, Francis: The End of History and the Last Man, Munich 1992, pp. 254f.

Galtung, Johan: Frieden mit friedlichen Mitteln Köln 1988, pp. 348ff.

Gottschalk, Bernadette: Meine Erklärung nach Beendigung des Auschwitz-Prozesses von Detmold, in: Braunschweiger Spiegel (June 18th, 2016), – “During the Auschwitz trial in 2015, the Hanseatic City of Lüneburg expected the survivors of the Shoah, the joint plaintiffs, to enter the trial venue, the Ritterakademie on Graalwall, in the face of a veterans’ Wehrmacht memorial from 1960 50 meters away. It bears the inscription ‘Let no one say that our fallen are dead’. The spirit of such a statement has already been detailed by Josef Göbbels in his longer column ‘Die Vollendeten’ of 27.12.1942 in the weekly newspaper ‘Das Reich’ (…).”

Kastelan, Cornelia/ Wuggenig, Ulf: Salzstadt, Soldatenstadt, Universitätsstadt. Lüneburg eine Stadt im Wandel, in: Wege, Astrid/ Wuggenig, Ulf (eds.): Moirés. Andreas Fogarasi, Katya Sander, Urtica, Lüneburg 2008, pp. 103–151.

Kellerhoff, Sven Felix: Wehrmacht ließ in Lager ›nutzlose Esser‹ verenden, in: Welt n24 (March 11th, 2014),

Kunstraum der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg (eds.): Project Daniel Libeskind. The University in the Civil Society of the 21st Century – Architectural, Artistic and Field-theoretical Aspects, Lüneburg 2007.

Landeszeitung für die Lüneburger Heide 213, May 5th, 2015, p. 4.

Luhmann, Niklas: Theory of Society, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp 1998, p. 579.

Marc Jongen im interview with Martin Helg, »Wir müssen wehrhafter werden«, in: NZZ AM SONNTAG (13.3.2016),; Bender, Justus/ Bingener Reinhard: Marc Jongen. Der Parteiphilosoph der AfD, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (15.1.2016),

Nietzsche, Friedrich: Beyond Good and Evil, Leipzig 1886, Aphorism 260. – An apt description of the megalothymic attitude to which Nietzsche himself was inclined can be found in his equally racist and sexist treatise Genealogy of Morals, Hamburg 1887.

Niklas Luhmann als Schüler des Johanneums, Johanneum Lüneburg,

Paniagua, Laura López: The Archive of the Grandparents in Backstage, Kunstraum der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg 2017.

Rass, Christoph u.a.: Ozarichi 1944. Die Spuren eines Kriegsverbrechens, documentary, Aachen 2006, 50 Min.

Rass, Christoph: ‘Menschenmaterial’ – Deutsche Soldaten an der Ostfront. Innenansichten einer Infanteriedivision 1939-1945, Paderborn/ München 2003, S. 386.

Rohrkamp, René: Ozarichi 1944 – Die Beteiligung der 35. Infanterie-Division an einem Kriegsverbrechen gegen Zivilisten, in: Stadt Karlsruhe, Stadtarchiv (eds.): Der Zweite Weltkrieg. Last oder Chance der Erinnerung? Widerspruch gegen das Ehrenmal der 35. Infanterie-Division in Karlsruhe, Karlsruhe 2015, pp. 15–28. – He points out the “highlighted participation of the units of the LVI Panzer Corps, especially the rear units of the 110th and 35th Infantry Divisions.”

Santayana, George: Reason in Common Sense (The Life of Reason, Bd. 1), New York 1905, p. 172.

Steenbeck, Alexander: The Löwengeschwader’s Big Bang, in: Aviation Historian 8 (2014), p. 40–43; id.: Auf den Spuren des Löwen, Neustadt 2012, pp. 32ff. – In it is noted for September 3rd, 1939 an attack of the 5th Squadron of II Group with 9 aircraft on 2000 railroad cars standing around Łódź. An attack on the Łódź railroad station was initially ordered for September 4th, but was directed to another city on the same day. The planned bombing of the airfield of Łódź on September 3rd was called off again on the same day, but realized on September 4th by the I. Gruppe of the “Löwengeschwader”.

VVN-BdA Lüneburg: Kritik des Friedenspfades der Friedensstiftung Günter Manzke. Zur Lüneburger ›Erinnerungskultur‹ im öffentlichen Raum und vom Versuch, sich die Vergangenheit zurechtzubiegen, Lüneburg 2016, pp. 70ff.; and the revised representation of the memorial to the fallen following the criticism of