Lower Saxony Memorials Development
The main mission of the Lower Saxony Memorials Development department of the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation is to support and encourage networking between memorials, associations, initiatives, engaged individuals, municipalities and educational institutions who are dedicated to researching, documenting and teaching Nazi history and to preserving the memory of the victims of Nazi crimes in the Lower Saxony region.
We provide financial support to memorials and projects, and we also offer advice, information and further education in the fields of contemporary history, memorial pedagogy, museum studies and historic preservation. Our Documentation Centre on the History of Resistance and Persecution 1933–1945 in Lower Saxony features an archival collection and extensive library to support research and documentation.
Lower Saxony Memory Landscape
Since the 1980s, Lower Saxony has developed a memory landscape that is unique in Germany, with regional depth, national reach and international importance. This network comprises memorials, educational sites and documentation centres as well as numerous associations and individuals.
Memorials, educational sites and documentation centres
Memorials, educational sites and documentation centres can be found in more than twenty locations all over Lower Saxony, most of them on original historical sites. They chronicle the violent crimes committed by the National Socialists against foreigners and Germans who were excluded from society and persecuted for racist, political or social reasons: Jewish men and women, Sinti and Roma people, communists and social democrats, Jehovah’s witnesses, gay men and women, people stigmatized as anti-social or criminal, people with disabilities, members of the resistance, non-conforming young people, and deportees from all over Europe who were exploited as slave labourers by the National Socialists.
The diverse memorials and documentation centres in Lower Saxony cover all key aspects of National Socialist persecution that took place in various types of camps, in prisons and in hospitals. Other memorial sites vividly reveal how the “people’s community” was able to function through sophisticated propaganda, for example.
The specific tasks of the memorials, educational sites and documentation centres are:
- to keep alive the memory of the victims in close contact with survivors of the camps and their descendants
- to open up and preserve the historical sites as museums
- to research the history of the sites as well as the victims, perpetrators and followers, and to archivally catalogue and preserve historical documents
- to use verified scholarly findings to provide educational access to the regional history of National Socialism, and to convey this history in a museum context and in educational formats that are appropriate to different age and social groups
Most of the memorials, educational sites and documentation centres in Lower Saxony are privately sponsored by non-governmental organizations.
Initiatives and associations
Lower Saxony also has a variety of initiatives, projects, local history groups and individuals who engage with the history of National Socialist crimes on a volunteer basis out of a sense of civic commitment. Together with the memorials, they form the backbone of the Lower Saxony memory landscape.
Their diverse activities include alternative city tours, exhibitions, discussions with witnesses, writing workshops, publications and document collections.
In the year 2000, Lower Saxony’s independently sponsored memorials and documentation centres joined together with historical initiatives and individuals to form the Alliance of Lower Saxony Memorials and Initiatives for Remembering National Socialist Crimes. This organization represents the interests of the private memorials and documentation centres in the political sphere and conducts various measures to promote the remembrance of National Socialist crimes and active engagement with the history of National Socialism in Lower Saxony.
A Germany-wide association of privately sponsored memorials was founded in 2020. The goal of the Verband der Gedenkstätten in Deutschland e.V. / FORUM (VGDF) (Association of Memorials in Germany) is to encourage memorials and remembrance initiatives to share their experiences and information with each other throughout Germany. The association represents the interests of its members in the political, media and economic spheres and aims to improve the public perception of this remembrance work.
Materials to download (only available in German):
- “Inform – learn – accept responsibility: Guide to memorials and documentation centres on the history of the National Socialist dictatorship in Lower Saxony and Bremen” Brochure published by the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation in cooperation with the Alliance of Lower Saxony Memorials and Initiatives for Remembering National Socialist Crimes, March 2022 Download brochure
- “Memorials and documentation centres on the history of the National Socialist dictatorship in Lower Saxony and Bremen” Leaflet published by the Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation in cooperation with the Alliance of Lower Saxony Memorials and Initiatives for Remembering National Socialist Crimes, March 2022 Download leaflet