A Project of the Hamburg Institute for Social Research in Cooperation with the Einstein Forum, Potsdam

Berliner Colloquien zur Zeitgeschichte

Berliner Colloquienzur Zeitgeschichte

Brussels, Beutelsbach, and Butovo: Economic, Social, and Political Constraints on Memorial Museums Hosted by Mischa Gabowitsch, Enrico Heitzer and Markus Pieper

26 and 27 September 2014

Far too often, discussions regarding memorial sites focus on just a handful of well-known institutions. They are also judged according to standards for content and presentation such as the ban on indoctrination. To varying degrees, these have become established or remain controversial in Germany and in European and global debates. Mostly, however, such debates ail to acknowledge that the work of memorial museums beyond the large, famous and well-funded sites is threatened in many respects. Many memorial museums face difficulties not only in their finances but also their place in society, especially in countries and regions where they confront disinterest, a lack of recognition and state harassment, or even just rigid political requirements. Another problem is the professional situation of many employees, especially younger ones.

What does it mean, under such precarious conditions and in the international discussion, to implement standards such as Germany’s »Beutelsbach Consensus«? How do memorial museums navigate among the priorities of Brussels, national and neo-religious perceptions of history, social indifference, lack of money and pressures to create a media buzz, whether in rural Mecklenburg and Croatia or a Moscow suburb? What do these threats mean for the search for European or even national standards? Are such standards even worth the effort? How would our perceptions of the social role of memorials change if we took these problems into account? These were the central issues of the colloquium.

Conference language was German.



Interview with Mischa Gabowitsch, Enrico Heitzer and Markus Pieper

Aleida Assmann, Vera Dubina and Mischa Gabowitsch in Mittelweg 36 (in German)