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Kunstraum of Leuphana in cooperation with the Arbeitskreis Gedenkkultur at the Leuphana



OCTOBER 4 - NOVEMBER 4, 2018, opening hours: Mon - Tue, Thu - Fri 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., 2 - 6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., closed Wednesdays.

Guided tours for groups from October 9, to be arranged in advance via 0049170 4519909 and from October 15 via 0049 4131 677-2601 or -1750.

OPENING: 10/2/2018, 6 p.m. in the Libeskind Auditorium of the Central Building of the Leuphana, Universitätsallee 1, D-21332 Lüneburg


PROF. DR. ULF WUGGENIG, DEAN OF THE FACULTY OF THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES, welcome note and introduction to the exhibition »Extermination Site Malyj Trostenez« at the Leuphana, and to the culture and politics of remembrance (in German)


UWE NEUMÄRKER, DIRECTOR OF THE FOUNDATION MEMORIAL TO THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE, Berlin, introduction to the exhibition »Extermination Site Malyj Trostenez« (in German)

Site plan here

Malyj Trostenez, operated between 1942 and 1944, was the largest extermination site under National Socialist rule in the former Soviet Union. It was long largely ignored in Germany and Austria. Between 40,000 and 60,000 people were murdered at this site located in a formerly rural region around 12 kilometers southeast of Minsk in the 1940s, which is today part of the municipal area of the capital of Belarus. The victims were mostly Jews from Belarus, but also from Germany, Austria and other European countries, as well as Soviet war prisoners and persons suspected of being partisans.

The German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at his visit on the occasion of the opening of the new remembrance site in Minsk together with the Austrian President Alexander van der Bellen on 06/29/2018, stated the following on the crimes committed by the Wehrmacht and the SS in the region of Minsk in Belarus under German rule in the 1940s: »It took long, much too long, for these crimes to be remembered in Germany. It took us long, much too long, for us to own up to our responsibility.« This was similarly the case in Austria, as President van der Bellen conceded. Steinmeier continued with the following words: »Today, the responsibility consists in keeping alive the knowledge of what took place here. I assure you that we shall defend this responsibility also against those who say that it has been settled through the passing of time.«

The traveling exhibition »Extermination Site. History and Memory« is a German-Belarussian coproduction of the Internationales Bildungs- und Begegnungswerk gGmbH (IBB Dortmund) and the Internationale Bildungs- und Begegnungsstätte »Johannes Rau« Minsk (IBB Minsk), each in cooperation with the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin. In Lüneburg, as in most locations hosting the exhibition, it also includes regionalized parts. Therefore the exhibition on view at the Leuphana from October to early November, between the stops in Terezin in the Czech Republic and the State Parliament in Düsseldorf, will commemorate the five residents - Lucie Baden-Behr, Regine Behr, Paula Horwitz as well as Ernst and Otto Levy - who according to the results of the basic research conducted in 2018 were born in the city or lived there for a longer period of time and were all deported and then with high probability murdered in the forest of Blagovschina near Malyj Trostenez. What will also be taken into account is the role that the 110th Infantry Division of the Wehrmacht, positioned in Lüneburg in 1940, played in the war of extermination against the Soviet Union, mainly in Belarus. The »war memorial« to this division set up in Lüneburg in 1960 had a strong impact on the local cultural remembrance discourse in 2017 and 2018. The regional parts of the exhibition were prepared by the Kunstraum of the Leuphana, the History Workshop Lüneburg and the History Workshop Minsk, as well as members of the Arbeitskreis Gedenkkultur at the Leuphana in collaboration with the mentioned institutions in Minsk, Dortmund, and Berlin.

The statement formulated by the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana at the beginning of the last century, which through Aleida and Jan Assmann has become a remembrance-political guideline of cultural sciences in the German-speaking countries, has lost nothing of its validity: »Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.« In June 2017, the Belarussian historian Dr. Alexandr Dalhouski was invited to give a lecture at the opening of the exhibition »Backstage III« of the Kunstraum of the Leuphana. It was decided afterwards to present the exhibition »Extermination Site Malyj Trostenez« at the Leuphana as well in 2018. Against the background of the fact that the extermination campaign against Belarus unleashed under National Socialism has long been neglected in German and Austrian cultures of remembrance, this decision was additionally underpinned by the idea that John Meynard Keynes is said to have formulated in this way for the first time: »When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?«

Accompanying program

The exhibition is supported by a public discursive program (in German language) with external guests from the fields of science, culture, and politics offered during the entire winter semester of 2018/19. After the opening on October 2, during which the director of the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the historian and publicist Uwe Neumärker, will deliver the keynote speech on the concept of the exhibition, the supporting program will be launched on October 8, 2018, with two further historians who were crucially involved in preparing and realizing the exhibition: Dr. Alexandr Dalhouski from the History Workshop Minsk, who will give a lecture »On the Transformation of the Soviet Memorial Site Near Trostenez Into a Pan-European Remembrance Site,« and Adam Kerpel-Fronius from the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, whose lecture is titled »Traveling Exhibition Malyj Trostenez - The Story of an Exhibition.« Also invited in October is the renowned contemporary historian Prof. Dr. Christian Gerlach (University of Bern), whose research focuses include the National Socialist economic policies and politics of violence, the Second World War, and Comparative Mass Violence. On October 25, he will deliver the lecture »Malyj Trostinez and the Many Faces of German Violence in Belarus from 1941-1944« in the Forum of the Central Building of the Leuphana. He has announced that he will also address the arguments that played a role in the recent political debates in Lüneburg.


Dr. Aliaksandr Dalhouski History Workshop Minsk, »On the Transformation of the Soviet Memorials Near Trostenez into a Pan-European Remembrance Site«

10/8 Venue: Central Building of the Leuphana, Foyer, 7 p.m.

Based on the research results of the preliminary work on the exhibition »Extermination Site Malyj Trostenez. History and Memory,« the lecture addresses problems of historicization as well as the specific features of the Soviet perception and design of memorials at the sites of mass extermination near Malyj Trostenez. It will also deal with the current efforts to transform the Soviet memorial into a pan-European remembrance site.

The lecture seeks to answer the following questions: What caused the loss of knowledge of the largest extermination site in Blagovschina? Why were the deported and murdered Central European Jews painted as peaceful Soviet citizens in the official remembrance culture during the Soviet era? And finally: What difficulties accompany the transformation of the Soviet memorial near Trostenez into a pan-European remembrance site?

Aliaksandr Dalhouski is a historian working as deputy director of the History Workshop Minsk, where he is responsible for the archive of contemporary witnesses and the development and supervision of the German-Belarussian traveling exhibition »Extermination Site Malyj Trostenez. History and Memory« in Belarus. He studied history and German as a foreign language in the Belarussian capital of Minsk and then political science as well as economic and social history at the RWTH Aachen. He received his PhD at the University of Gießen in 2012. His monographic dissertation was published in 2015 under the title Tschernobyl in Belarus: Ökologische Krise und sozialer Kompromiss [Chernobyl in Belarus: Ecological Crisis and Social Compromise]. He conducts research on the history of Belarus during the Second World War and on the history of ecology. In 2017 he, Thomas Bohn and Markus Krzoska published the volume Wisent-Wildnis und Welterbe. Geschichte des polnisch-weißrussischen Nationalparks von Bialowieza [Wisent Wilderness and World Heritage. The History of the Polish-Belarussian National Park of Bialowieza].

Adam Kerpel-Fronius, Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, lecture »Traveling Exhibition Malyj Trostenez - Story of an Exhibition«

10/8 Central Building of the Leuphana, Foyer, 7:45p.m.

The German-Belarussian traveling exhibition »Extermination Site Malyj Trostenez. History and Memory« was planned from the onset as a bilateral project. The challenges posed by this unusual endeavour were evident: the huge complexity of the topic, the very different ways in which the memory cultures in both countries evolved, as well as the great differences in weighing the addressed issues. The result is an exhibition from which visitors in both countries can learn a lot about each other. A workshop report from the perspective of a head of the project.

Adam Kerpel-Fronius, born in 1975 in Budapest, studied political science and history at the Universities of Freiburg and Wroclaw and at the FU Berlin. He has been research assistant at the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin since 2009. He is head of the project »Information Portal to European Sites of Remembrance« dedicated to victims of National Socialism in Europe.

Prof. Dr. Christian Gerlach, University of Bern, »Maly Trostinez and the Many Faces of German Violence in Belarus From 1941-1944«

10/25 Central Building of the Leuphana, Foyer 8 p.m.

From 1942-1944, a regional extermination site was located in Maly Trostinez (Belarus) under German rule. The lecture deals with its origin and murderous functions, while at the same time relating the violence in Maly Trostinez to the variegated forms of German violence in Belarus. Only a small portion of all victims in the region (totalling more than 1.6 million) were murdered in Maly Trostinez, even if people from different population groups were among them, as was the case throughout the country. In taking stock of the violence in Belarus and its backgrounds, the lecture also discusses current research that takes a sound-historical approach, and addresses arguments that played a role in the recent political debates in Lüneburg.

Christian Gerlach has been teaching contemporary history at the University of Bern since 2008. He studied at the TU Berlin and then worked at the Universities of Freiburg, Singapore, and Pittsburgh as well as the University of Maryland, College Park.

His research focuses on the National Socialist economic policies and politics of violence and the Second World War, comparative mass violence, the history of starvation, nutrition and agriculture, as well as the history of development policies especially in regard to Asia and Africa.

His books (some also published in English) include Der Mord an den europäischen Juden, München 2017 [The Extermination of the European Jews, Cambridge, 2016 ], Extrem gewalttätige Gesellschaften: Massengewalt im 20. Jahrhundert, Munich, 2011 [Extremely Violent Societies: Mass Violence in the Twentieth-Century World, Cambridge, 2010], Kalkulierte Morde: Die deutsche Wirtschafts- und Vernichtungspolitik in Weißrußland 1941-1944, Hamburg, 1999 [4th edition 2012,] and Krieg, Ernährung, Völkermord: Forschungen zur deutschen Vernichtungspolitik im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Hamburg, 1998.

Prof. Dr. Dieter Pohl, University of Klagenfurt, »The German War of Extermination From a Global Historical Perspective«

11/6 Central Building of the Leuphana, Foyer 6 p.m.

The German war of extermination against the Soviet Union was certainly one of the most violent campaigns in history, not only in military terms but also with regard to the millions of murdered civilians and war prisoners. Yet it is not an isolated event in the history of the 20th century, but the culmination point of the wars of expansion that had been waged by fascist Italy, militarized Japan and National Socialist Germany since the 1930s. Therefore, the overall context of ultra-nationalistic expansion must be kept in mind when analyzing the specific features of the German case.

Dieter Pohl has been university professor of contemporary history with a special focus of Eastern and Southeastern Europe at the University of Klagenfurt since 2010. He studied history and political science at the LMU Munich. Before accepting the offer from the University of Klagenfurt, he worked at the Institute of Contemporary History Munich - Berlin.

His research focuses on the National Socialist rule of occupation and violent crimes, the Second World War in Europe and Asia, the history of the Soviet Union, the consequences of war, as well as mass violence in the 20th century.

His books include Die Herrschaft der Wehrmacht: Deutsche Militärbesatzung und einheimische Bevölkerung in der Sowjetunion 1941 1944. Fft. am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2011, Verfolgung und Massenmord in der NS-Zeit 1933-1945, Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2011. He co-edited Zwangsarbeit in Hitlers Europa. Besatzung, Arbeit, Folgen (withT. Sebta), Berlin: Metropol-Verlag, 2013, and the multi-volume Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das nationalsozialistische Deutschland 1933-1945, Munich: Oldenbourg Wissenschaftsverlag, since 2008.

Hannes Heer, Hamburg, »The End of the Legend of the ›Unblemished Wehrmacht‹ and the New Legends«

11/15 Central Building of the Leuphana, Foyer 6 p.m.

The exhibition »Vernichtungskrieg. Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 bis 1944« [War of Annihilation. Crimes of the Wehrmacht 1941 to 1944] that opened in 1995 made public a second German genocide that claimed 32 million victims in Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The perpetrators were 10 million German and Austrian soldiers. The exhibition not only did away with the legend of the »unblemished Wehrmacht,« but also necessitated the rewriting of the stories told by grandfathers, fathers and uncles to their families. It attracted almost one million visitors and became the subject of heated debates. The show was suspended in 1999 on account of allegedly »faked« photos and later rehabilitated by a committee of international historians. But new legends have long emerged....

The lecture will include the screening of an approximately 20-minute excerpt of Ruth Beckermann´s documentary »Jenseits des Krieges« [East of War] that grants insights into the first Wehrmacht Exhibition of the Hamburger Institut für Sozialforschung (Hamburg Institute for Social Research, HIS) on its stop in Vienna in 1995, including reactions to the show.

Hannes Heer studied history and literature at the Universities of Bonn, Freiburg and Cologne, as well as economics and economic history at the University of Bonn. He is a radio author, film director and curator of the exhibitions »Verbrechen der Wehrmacht« [Crimes of the German Wehrmacht] and »Die Vertreibung der Juden aus der Oper 1933 bis 1945« [The Expulsion of Jews from the Opera 1933 to 1945]. Laureate of the Carl-von-Ossietzky Medal. Heer´s publications on the Wehrmacht, war and memory include Hitler war's. Die Befreiung der Deutschen von ihrer Vergangenheit, Berlin, 2005, as well as the four monographs (with Jürgen Kesting and Peter Schmidt) Verstummte Stimmen. Die Vertreibung der »Juden« aus der Oper 1933 bis 1945, Berlin, 2008-2012, which deal with the policies of the opera houses in Berlin, Stuttgart, Darmstadt, and Dresden during the time of National Socialism. With Klaus Naumann, Hannes Heer edited Vernichtungskrieg - Verbrechen der Wehrmacht 1941 bis 1944, 1995, the publication accompanying the eponymous first Wehrmacht exhibition, and with Walter Manoschek, Alexander Pollak, and Ruth Wodak Wie Geschichte gemacht wird. Zur Konstruktion von Erinnerungen an Wehrmacht und Zweiten Weltkrieg, Vienna, 2003 [Discursive Construction of History. The Wehrmacht´s War of Annihilation, London, 2008].

Dr. Felix Klein, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Berlin. „Remembrance of the Holocaust and National Socialist Crimes as a Means in the Fight Against Antisemitism“ (in German language)

Thursday, December 13, 2018, 6:15 p.m., Central Building of the Leuphana University Lüneburg, 7th floor, Room C 40.704

n the face of the resurgence of nationalisms, ethnopluralist essentialisms and right-wing extremisms, it can hardly be surprising to also see antisemitism – more or less openly – rear its ugly head again.

On the level of personal attitudes, recent surveys on political culture give evidence of this development for a number of countries, among which also Germany and Austria figure. These results reflect effective change on a subjective level, considering that in Germany – out of a sample of a thousand domestic persons initiated by the British Communications Research Institute (ComRes) – approximately 55% reported a perceived rise of anti-semitism in this country, while 45% answered similarly to an analogous sample taken in Austria. Regional discrepancies regarding the degree awareness of these problems are definitely observable. In Germany, respective results in the Federal State of Saxonia – but also in the Rhineland-Palatinate – have surpassed 70%. In Austria, wheres regional attitudes are less varied, Vorarlberg (61%) as well as Salzburg and Tyrol (55% respectively, as in Germany) figure as considerably above average.

In 2018, against the background of burgeoning anti-semitic tendencies, the German government has created the official position of an Anti-Semitism Commissioner. As part of its involvement in site-specific discussions about remembrance culture and politics, and more specifically about the role of the Wehrmacht and strategies of their Veteran Associations, the Kunstraum has invited the new holder of this position in the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Dr. Felix Klein, for a public lecture. In his talk, Dr. Klein will demonstrate the close relation that the fight against anti-semitism holds to remembrance of the Holocaust and of the national socialist politics of violence – and will be available for a discussion afterwards.

Dr. Felix Klein  studied  law in Freiburg im Breisgau and at the London School of Economics. After completing his education for Higher Diplomatic Services at the Federal Professional School of International Affairs in Bonn in the years 1994–1996, he received his PhD in law at the University of St Gallen (Switzerland) in 2001.

Felix Klein started off his diplomatic career in Bonn, as Head of the Department for Relations with the Latin-American Countries Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador; after that he served as Cultural Attache in Yaoundé (Cameroon) and as Deputy Consul General in Milan. In 2007, he moved on to the Central Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin, where he was appointed Director of the Human Resources Department for Higher Services in the Foreign Office. In March 2014,  Felix Klein was proclaimed as Special Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight Against Anti-Semitism, Federal Ministry of the Interior, Berlin. When, in January 2018, the motion to create the position of an Antisemitism Commissioner was passed in the Ministry of the Interior, the Central Council of Jews in Germany nominated Dr. Klein. Since May 2018, Felix Klein is in office in this capacity.

Ulf Wuggenig