The travelling exhibition “‘Was damals Recht war…’ – Soldaten und Zivilisten vor Gerichten der Wehrmacht” (“‘What was deemed legal at the time…’ – Soldiers and Civilians Tried by Wehrmacht Courts”) is to be shown for the first time in Saxony. The exhibition has been organised by the city of Leipzig, the association “Dr. Margarete Blank e.V.” and the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It will run from 13 April to 25 May 2012 in the lower foyer (Untere Wandelhalle) of the New Town Hall (Neues Rathaus) in Leipzig.
Opening of the exhibition
The formal opening of the exhibition will take place on 12 April 2012 at 6 pm in the lower foyer of the New Town Hall in Leipzig. The event will be hosted by Susanne Kucharski-Huniat, Director of the Leipzig Department for Culture, Franz Hammer, Chairman of the Leipzig Memorial of Forced Labour, and Dr Ulrich Baumann, Deputy Director of the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The opening speech will be given by Ludwig Baumann, Chairman of the Federal Association of Victims of Nazi Military Justice. The curator, Magnus Koch, will then take visitors around the exhibition.
Events to accompany the Leipzig exhibition
The association “Dr. Margarete Blank e.V.” and the initiative “Geschichte vermitteln” (Transmitting History) have organised an extensive programme of events to accompany the exhibition in Leipzig. The programme focuses on regional history and includes meetings with survivors, guided tours of the exhibition, visits to memorial sites, film screenings and lectures. For further information, see www.leipzig.de or www.zwangsarbeit-in-leipzig.de.
Background to the exhibition
The exhibition shows how the Wehrmacht’s judicial system was characterised by injustice and arbitrariness, and how thousands of men and women, soldiers and civilians, became victims of this unjust judicial system and lost their lives as deserters or as so-called “Wehrkraftzersetzer” (“subverters of the war effort”) or “Volksschädlinge” (“vermin”; persons considered harmful to German society). Those who survived the Wehrmacht’s judicial system encountered opposition and hostility from the majority of Germans after 1945. Many still consider those convicted to be traitors or cowards. It was not until September 2009 that the German parliament revoked the remaining convictions of the victims of gross miscarriages of justice under the Wehrmacht’s judicial system during World War Two. The tens of thousands of victims of this judicial system also include members of the resistance from most European countries. They were arrested and tried in countries occupied by the Wehrmacht or in Germany, and many were executed.
Links to Leipzig and the surrounding area
Leipzig is an interesting venue for the exhibition, particularly in view of its proximity to the town of Torgau. During the National Socialist regime, the military prisons “Fort Zinna” and “Brückenkopf” were located here, along with the headquarters of the Reich Military Court from 1943. By 1939, “Fort Zinna” had become the biggest Wehrmacht prison and between 60,000 and 70,000 prisoners were detained here in the years that followed. Torgau thus became the centre of the Wehrmacht’s penal system.
The exhibition was developed by the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin with the support of the Saxony Memorial Site Foundation, the German Resistance Memorial Centre, The Saxony-Anhalt Memorial Site Foundation -ROTER OCHSE memorial site in Halle (Saale), the Federal Agency for Political Education and the Federal Association of Victims of Nazi Military Justice.
For further information on the exhibition, see:
Press conference: 1 March 2012, 11 am, Nadelfabrik, Reichsweg 19 – 41, 52068 Aachen Contact for the press conference: Herr Winfried Casteel, VHS Aachen Tel.: +49 (0)241 – 47 92 127 Exhibition opening: 6 March 2012, 6.30 pm, Nadelfabrik, Reichsweg 19 – 41, 52068 Aachen Exhibition venue: Nadelfabrik, Reichsweg 19 – 41, 52068 Aachen Exhibition dates: 6 to 30 March 2012 Opening hours: Mon – Fri 11 am – 7 pm, Sat and Sun 11 am – 4 pm, free entry Guided tours of the exhibition: Thurs 15 March, 6 pm / Sat 17 March, 2 pm / Thurs 22 March, 5 pm. For registration/booking, email firstname.lastname@example.org