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Essay: Twenty years of Federal Government Policy on Memorializing the Victims of National Socialism. From the Neue Wache to the Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of National-Socialist ‘Euthanasia’ Murders

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Volker Wild

with Jan Ferdinand



Between 1993 and 2014 the Federal Government built five memorials in Berlin in memory of the victims of National Socialism: the Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Neue Wache (1993), the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005), the Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under National Socialism (2008), the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma murdered under National Socialism (2012) and the Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of National Socialist ‘Euthanasia’ Murders (2014). These five memorials constitute an ensemble: they address issues raised by National Socialism[1] and were all built in the centre of Berlin, the capital of Germany, at the behest of a Federal agency following reunification in 1989.  Together they lay claim to a universal validity that covers the state as a whole: they enable the republic to honour all members of the various groups of victims

The aim of this study is to reconstruct the design features that shape these memorials by delving into their origins so as to clarify the historical views and the political intentions of their creators. This means distinguishing between their ‘short history’ from the original idea up to the completion of the memorials and their ‘long history’ in the form of victim discourses and policies going back to 1945. Victims on the German side and Jewish victims were recognized from early on, while victims among the Sinti and Roma, homosexuals and the ‘euthanasia’ murders were regarded for a long time as the ‘forgotten victims’, a concept that entered the debates about the past during the 1980s. Only by taking account of the ‘long history’ can we begin to understand the important differences between the memorials to the two groups.

In order to compare the memorials and to allow their differences to emerge as clearly as possible, we are confining our study to a few design features that are common to all the memorials and that bring out the historical views and political intentions underlying them with particular clarity. First, we begin by examining the subjects and the temporal focus of the memorials. It is important to ask whether the memorials concentrate purely on National Socialist crimes or whether they extend to the prehistory and post-history of National Socialism, including the Federal Republic’s own dealings with the victims. Do the memorials take the present day into account together with the attitudes that continue to form the basis of social and legal exclusion? Second, we address the emotional, informational and reflective aspects of the memorials: is a memorial designed to trigger an emotional response in an observer or does it set out primarily to inform? Should the observer be led to question his own view of history and his own attitudes? Third, taking our cue from theories of narrative we shall scrutinise the concepts of speaker and message. Memorials will be understood as communications in which a speaker addresses an imagined public. As a rule, speakers are the persons who have initiated the memorial, who have steered it through the shoals of politics and who have had a decisive influence on the basic elements of its design. From their ideas and intentions we are able to deduce the message conveyed by the memorial. The identity of the speaker and the nature of that message are determined ultimately by the context in which the memorial has come into being in combination with its design.

This comparative study aims to show how the memory constructs underlying the five memorials differ widely from one another and may even be incompatible. It lays bare the extent to which the past is still a contested terrain.


‘Accepted by the great majority of the public’ – the Neue Wache

The key features of the Neue Wache are the inscription, Käthe Kollwitz’s sculpture ‘Mother with her Dead Son’ and the interior of the building, with the open skylight in the roof exposing it to the elements. It is dedicated to the memory of the dead of both World Wars as well as the victims of the Nazi and Communist dictatorships.  This means both German and all other victims, including, in other words, the victims of German crimes. The inscription runs: To the Victims of War and Dictatorship.[2]

At the official opening of the memorial, Helmut Kohl, the then Federal Chancellor, spoke of its redevelopment as a symbolic political complement to Germany’s newly regained unification, the conferring of new meaning for the nation. It was to provide a record and the emotional keystone of the work of reunification. ‘Our capital needs a central memorial’, Kohl emphasized in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. ‘I thought about my mother and about my brother, who lost his life in action. I thought about the many women whose sons and husbands had fallen victim to the war and the dictatorship.’[3]

As far back as the mid-1980s the Coalition Government under Kohl had attempted to replace the provisional central memorial in Bonn, which had long been in existence, with a huge consecrated hall on the banks of the Rhine and to dedicate it to ‘The Victims of the Wars and the Dictatorship’, a formula that had been officially adopted since 1964. This proposal fell through for a number of reasons, one of which was that, following the speech given by Richard von Weizsäcker on 8 May 1985, that formula had ceased to be acceptable. The SPD called for the different groups of victims to be individually specified and the victims of National Socialist crimes to be given special prominence, the Jewish victims above all others.[4] Kohl, whose authority on matters of history and historical memorials was unquestioned in his party,[5] let the plan drop.

So as to avoid a further setback to his plans for a memorial after reunification, Kohl changed his position, bypassing the Bundestag in the process.[6] Instead of the victims of the wars and the dictatorship, the memorial was now dedicated to the victims of war and dictatorship.[7] Kohl explained that he used this form of words so as ‘to avoid going further into detail’. For otherwise we would lose ourselves ‘in the entire maze of modern German history’. He explained that ever since the foundation of the Federal Republic, every President of the Republic had used ‘a form of words that was correctly understood and accepted by the vast majority of the nation.’ [8] This set the standards by which his own memorial policy was guided.

With his transformation of the Neue Wache, Kohl harked back to three strands in the tradition of political symbols in Germany. Schinkel’s original Neue Wache evokes the memory of Prussia and the tradition of the German Reich, of which the Federal Republic deemed itself the legitimate successor. Modelling the interior on Heinrich Tessenow’s design of 1931 for the ‘Memorial to Those who Died in the World War’ continued the German tradition of honouring the victims of war. And finally, the Käthe Kollwitz sculpture Mother with her Dead Son, which Kollwitz referred to as a Pietà, emphasized the Christian elements of conservative traditionalism.

Following the unveiling of the memorial on 14 November 1993 to the accompaniment of protests by objectors,[9] Kohl paid a visit to the Neue Wache and noted ‘with great satisfaction’ that people ‘had gazed at the Mother with her Dead Son with great concentration and were visibly moved.’[10] Looking back at the event, his adviser Christoph Stölzl had this comment: If the memorial ‘works properly it has an aura of stillness; it makes an impression, not perhaps of intimidation, but it sends a message to the observer to “be still for once”.’[11]

The observer’s gaze is drawn first to the grieving mother, who is lost in pain over the loss of her son. Käthe Kollwitz had made a much smaller version of her sculpture in 1937 in memory of her son Peter, who had lost his life in the First World War. The stillness and the sublime simplicity of the space created by Tessenow acts as an echo chamber for the mother’s sorrow and intensifies its effect on the observer. And the abstract dedication avoids anything that might detract from the overwhelming impact of the work as a whole.

The few informative elements of the memorial recede behind the emotive aspects of the design. They are confined to the two bronze plaques on the outside walls that were added as an afterthought following protests from the victims’ representatives and are easily overlooked by the majority of visitors because of their location. One plaque tells the story of the close on two hundred years of the construction and history of the Neue Wache; the other lists the victims to whom the memorial is dedicated. This was based on the list of victims in the speech given by Richard von Weizsäcker in 1985, though with significant rearrangements and the replacement of specific turns of phrase by more generalized ones. The list is now headed by the victims of nations, war victims first of all, and only after that do we find the victims of the genocide of the Jews and the other victims of National Socialist mass crimes. There is no mention of perpetrators and the term ‘National Socialism’ is absent. In contrast, there is a specific reference to the ‘totalitarian dictatorship after 1945’.

The memorial completely lacks reflective elements in its design. Dissonances that might have led the visitor to reflect on his own situation in the tangled skein of historical victim constellations would have been incompatible with the overall concept. They would have disrupted the diffuse sentiment to which the memorial aspired.

The Neue Wache is a national monument, but the image of history that it projects and the memory politics it serves are those of the Federal Government of the day, especially since the memorial was brought into being without any broad public debate. The meaning it conveys appears most clearly from the inscription. The blanket formula that embraces all the victims, regardless of why they died and for whom, transforms all the German war dead into victims, into the innocent, passive victims of violence. In contrast, by honouring the victims of Nazi crimes together with the German dead, the victims are turned into sacrificial objects whose readiness to risk their lives served a higher purpose and so made them worthy of honouring.[12] In this way, the inscription becomes doubly absurd. Because of the greater universality and abstractness of the Berlin formulation as compared with the older Bonn version, all traces of these changes are obliterated. The message of the memorial remains ‘we were all victims’. As such, all the dead merit our compassion without distinction and deserve to be remembered with reverence.

With the Neue Wache Kohl renewed the link with the idea the Germans had of themselves in the age of Adenauer and revived a view of history that had been overcome in large sectors of society as the result of a protracted, often painful process of self-examination.[13] Konrad Adenauer had described National Socialism as an ‘episode’[14] of German history and made a sharp distinction ‘between the “Party”, which … was responsible for every evil and the “state” or the “people” which had allegedly emerged unblemished from the catastrophe of Nazism’.[15] Kohl clung to the dichotomy between ‘the Nazis’ and ‘the German nation’, while avoiding Adenauer’s clear speaking. According to Christoph Stölzl, with the Neue Wache the generation of politicians which had dominated the German political scene after Adenauer had created their ‘ultimate memorial’, an ‘image of the highest universal human significance.’[16]


‘Germany’s heaviest burden’[17] – The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

This memorial consists of a field of stelae and an information centre located beneath it. Thus remembrance and information are separated. Of the approximately three million visitors a year, around 450,000 visit the information centre.[18] ‘One day’, wrote Lea Rosh, the initiator of the project, ‘I came back from Israel and brought the germ of an idea with me.’[19] The idea was that of the genocide of the Jews. The appeal launched in January 1990 by ‘Perspektive Berlin’, a public campaigning group of which Rosh was a member, was widely supported by prominent politicians, intellectuals and industrialists. The aim was to create a vast memorial of national importance, one that would commemorate both the victims and the deed.[20] No one had called for this until then.

Ideas about national memorials had changed since the late 1970s. Whereas the Federal Government still stuck to the conservative discourse of the post-war period, the younger generation had been developing an alternative discourse, one that criticized the equal status of victims and perpetrators, as well as the dichotomy of ‘the Nazis’ on the one hand and ‘the Germans’ on the other. Projects were launched that inquired more closely into the identity of the perpetrators, scrutinized the actual course of events on the spot and hence sought to discover what everyday persecution actually looked like and how the majority of Germans had in fact behaved during those years.[21]  Not least among historians’ concerns was to discover the extent to which the past continued to live on behind the veil of repression. However, Lea Rosh did not herself pursue this line of thought in her project. This was because of her identification with the Jewish victims and also because she espoused an intentionalist interpretation of the Holocaust, as did Eberhard Jäckel, who advised her on historical questions and who subscribed to the thesis that the annihilation of the Jews was the logical consequence of the plan that Hitler had pursued from the very outset.[22]

Alongside the sponsoring organisation, other sponsors included the Federal Government and the Land Berlin represented by the Berlin Senate. Kohl was not able to ignore the massive support the project received among the public. What decided him to approve it may have been the fact that Ignatz Bubis, the Chairman of the Central Council of Jews, undertook to abandon his opposition to the Neue Wache on condition that Kohl promised to bring the Rosh project to fruition.[23] For its part, the attitude of the Berlin Senate varied between ‘wait-and-see’ and open hostility.  Eberhard Diepgen, the then mayor, wanted to prevent Berlin from becoming a ‘capital city of remorse’.[24]

The design of the memorial, by the architect Peter Eisenman, evokes a wide variety of associations. Some people think it looks like a vast graveyard, others find the serried ranks of grey stelae reminiscent of the icy inhumanity of the Nazi murder machine. Many people feel undermined and oppressed as they wander through the rows of stone pillars. In contrast, people who gaze at the complex from above imagine they see the comforting waves of a field of corn. The art critics Stefanie Endlich and Rainer Höynck described the work as an ‘affecting environment’.[25]

Eisenman’s own statements make such interpretations plausible. In the explanatory note on his design he describes his own work as a ‘zone of instability’[26] and draws parallels with the situation of victims entering the gas chambers: ‘You don’t need any specialized knowledge, it has nothing to do with understanding….Within the space of the memorial, your body will feel something.’[27] Whether it is the images that the memorial evokes or the physical experience that it induces that impresses visitors – in either case the memorial has a powerful emotional impact. Moreover, it was just such an impact that the sponsors had intended: ’Modern cultural energy should combine the upsurge of sorrow, shock and respect symbiotically with the consciousness of shame and guilt.’[28]

The powerful emotional impact of the memorial pushes its informative aspects into the background. To be sure, the information is based on sober modern research into the annihilation of the European Jews, but the way its exhibits are presented and the lighting of the Centre are reminiscent of a funeral vault:  gloomy with sacral illumination, the ceilings repeat the pattern of the stelae above the Centre; it is a place for devotion and overwhelming emotion rather than reflection.[29]

Given the absence of inscriptions, the abstract nature of the design, the wide range of associations it evokes, the diffuse terms of the invitation to tender and the very varied intentions of the chief actors involved, it is difficult to talk about the memorial’s ‘message’. Nevertheless, we may reconstruct two key, interwoven strands. With its imposing size on a central site and compared with the more manageable dimensions of the other monuments for the victims of Nazism, the memorial underscores the uniqueness of the genocide of the Jews. At the same time, the wordlessness of its design conveys something of the unimaginable horror of the crime. The emphasis on both these aspects undoubtedly expresses the desire of those involved to make a gesture honouring the victims.

Over and above that, three distinct but related ideas of the principal actors are subliminally expressed in the memorial. They can be summed up in the word ‘normalisation’. Kohl was set on pursuing the goal of normalising Germany’s understanding of its own political history. This desire had antedated German reunification but was now reinforced by it. While the past should not be forgotten, it should be regarded as concluded and firmly in the past. Kohl had a preference for the Eisenman/Serra design, but evidently had reservations about its ‘monumentality’.[30] He wanted to avoid creating a ‘wound’ in the city.[31] Following a conversation with the two authors of the project in May 1998, it was decided to take some of the drama out of the design.[32] The number and height of the stelae were massively reduced and the field of pillars diminished in size so that passers-by would no longer be compelled to walk through the site.[33] By this means and by planting trees along the boundary to the west the memorial became more conciliatory, less confrontational and accusatory.

For her part, Lea Rosh too wanted to normalize relations between Germans and Jews. She linked it to the genocide by arguing that the Germans had regarded Jews as ‘the others’. Now Jews, at least those who had died, would find a place in Berlin in an act of symbolic reintegration. In the first round of the competition she came out in favour of the giant memorial slab designed by the architect Christine Jackob-Marks, since this would ensure that ‘the murder victims would be recalled by their names one more time’.[34] It was not without a certain logic when Rosh declared at the opening ceremony that she intended actually to bury a tooth that she had found in the Bełżec extermination camp in one of the pillars.[35]

Eisenman is of the opinion that the Germans should no longer feel guilty. ‘I wanted to normalize German feelings’.[36] For that reason, the memorial ought not to remind visitors of anything. He is fully conscious of the multitude of associations evoked by the field of stelae. But for him the memorial is ‘a free-floating signifier’.[37] If in a hundred years an unsuspecting visitor puzzles over the meaning of these stone witnesses, that is the moment that interests him: preserving the memory without making any statement about the Holocaust. He is not put out by the informal use to which the memorial is put nowadays – people sunbathing or romping around boisterously. He did not intend such reactions but ‘it is a wonderful thing that these people come to express themselves’. The fact that the Germans have erected this memorial ‘has something to do with an attempt to be forgiven’.[38]

Taken together, these efforts at normalization move in the direction of neutralizing the force of the memorial and rendering its authors anonymous.  This distinguishes it from the three memorials for the ‘forgotten’ victims.

Even though there is a great difference between the Neue Wache and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, a comparison shows that they have a number of features in common. In both cases the Federal Government led by Helmut Kohl played a major role. Both memorials treat historical events as irrevocably belonging to the past. They seek to address their public by appealing to powerful emotions while leaving the question of the role of the Germans in National Socialism unanswered. Finally, both memorials remind us of victims – both Germans and Jews – who had been acknowledged as such in the Federal Republic from the very outset and who had been incorporated into the official list of victims, fundamentally different though their fates had been. For the Allies, recognition of the Jewish victims was a touchstone of democracy itself.

Homosexuals, the victims of ‘euthanasia’ and Sinti and Roma, in contrast, were excluded early on.  Christian Reimesch speaks of a ‘quota of reasons for persecution’.[39] Even the Allies, who had exercised a decisive influence on German reparations policy, had taken a very narrow view of victimhood under National Socialism. This was so partly because they feared making excessive financial demands on Germany and partly because in their own countries too homosexuals, disabled and ‘asocial’ people were the objects of discrimination. In Germany the exclusion of homosexuals, Sinti and Roma, the victims of the ‘euthanasia’ policy and of forced sterilization was the consequence of ‘enduring social prejudices’ and of the awareness on the part of officialdom that both in Germany and abroad there would be public sympathy for making ‘savings’ at the expense of these groups. ‘Many victims of the Nazis remained without a public voice for decades on end.’[40]

This did not change until the 1970s and 1980s. The gay rights movement gained in self-confidence and received a greater public response; the Sinti and Roma set up a Central Council and even the relatives of the victims of ‘euthanasia’ started to band together. In the 1980s the demands of the ‘forgotten victims’ reached the Bundestag.[41] Finally, the debate about the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe unleashed demands for memorials for other groups. The memorial to the Jewish victims triggered an automatic process for the benefit of other victims, which could no longer be halted.[42]


‘A sign of pride’ – The Memorial to Homosexuals Persecuted under National Socialism

The most important features of this memorial are these. There is firstly its grey cuboid body in the shape of a stela. Then, a video film that changes every few years can be seen on a monitor through a window in the wall of the stela. And finally, there is a plaque at a clear distance from the memorial itself, which informs the visitor about the persecution of homosexuals under National Socialism as well as the discrimination against homosexuals that took place after 1945. Unlike all the other memorials, in the case of the memorial to persecuted homosexuals, persecution and the stories of the victims are not the focus of attention. Instead the emphasis is on homophobic prejudices that the heterosexual majority retains towards homosexuals to this day and that still lead to their social exclusion. Accordingly, the memorial’s temporal emphasis is placed on the present. The past forms only a background, mainly in the shape of the grey stone slab that echoes the pillars of the neighbouring memorial to the murdered Jews and in the brief facts about Nazi persecution set out on the information plaque.

The subject matter and the temporal focus can be explained only against the background of the experience of homosexuals in the decades following 1945, during which they continued to be discriminated against and persecuted. As late as 1969, §175 of the Penal Code, which criminalized homosexuality and had been tightened by the National Socialists, remained in force. The Federal Supreme Court [Bundesgerichtshof] ruled that this paragraph was in conformity with the rule of law and did not help ‘to promote National Socialist aims or ideas’.[43] The Federal Constitutional Court ruled in 1957 that ‘homosexuality offended against the moral law as enshrined in the Basic Law’ for which ‘the moral opinions of the people’ were decisive.[44] If this ‘aberration’ were to spread further, it would lead to ‘the degeneration of the nation and the decline of its strength’.[45] §175 was used to condemn around 45,000 homosexuals between 1950 and 1965, almost as many as during the Nazi period.[46] Not until 2002 did the Bundestag finally set aside Nazi judgements handed down on the basis of §175.

As social ideas about sexual morality gradually changed after the late-1960s, a gay rights movement emerged which proactively stood up for the rights of homosexuals. Homosexuals had previously discovered that the old prejudices aimed at them could not be weakened by the memory of the way they had been mistreated in the Nazi period or by humanitarian appeals, but only by the act of coming out, which was often felt to be provocative.[47]

Inspired by the debates around building a memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe, an Action Group for a Gay Memorial was established in Berlin in 1993. It gained support among politicians, not least gay politicians.  The promoters of the memorial project had learned from the wider gay movement to take the initiative in proactively confronting homophobic prejudices. The memorial was not intended ‘to draw a line under the public debate’ but to be ‘provocative and make trouble’.[48]

The absence of an inscription on the memorial, the initially disconcerting adoption of the stele-form and the absence of any information next to the stele – all these factors tended to puzzle and irritate the visitor. The videos show scenes of homosexuals caressing one another,[49]  as well as some of the audience reactions. They confront the viewer with his or her own attitudes towards homosexuals and at the same time enable him to think about them critically. Anyone who watches the videos finds himself reflected in the screen of the monitor. The memorial has been constructed so as to make self-reflection its central feature.

The informative elements are confined to the small plaque on the path to the memorial; appeals to the emotions are entirely absent.

Until very recently, the law, public opinion and the media have treated homosexuality as an offence against ethical norms; it has been defined as sick and criminal. In contrast, the message sent by the memorial is that the problem is not homosexuals, but the society that discriminates against them. This reminds us of the title of a film produced in the early 1970s by Rosa von Praunheim, the activist filmmaker. ‘It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives.’ The supreme self-confidence implicit in this message can be seen in the lack of inhibition with which the artists adopt the stela-form of the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, make it significantly larger, tilt it a little to one side and finally, break a taboo by depicting what are usually very private homosexual intimacies in the context of a memorial to the victims of the Nazis. So what is not normal about that? Albert Eckert, one of the initiators of the project, described the memorial as a ‘sign of pride’.[50] This aggressive gesture is the mark of the contemporary gay rights movement.

The spokespersons of this message are the gay activists themselves. It was they who had formulated the key guidelines of the bill brought before the Bundestag. Because the Bundestag played no further part in the project, it was they who became involved in getting it off the ground and who sought out artists through an open competition, among them, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, the ultimate winners.


Injustice and Sorrow – the Memorial to the Sinti and Romaof Europe murdered under National Socialism

No memorial is so multifaceted, addresses so many themes, and works with so many time levels and artistic forms as the Memorial to the Murdered Sinti and Roma of Europe. Its most important features are a circular pool of water with a black stone in the middle on which a fresh flower is placed, four translucent panes with quotations from Helmut Schmidt and Roman Herzog about the genocide of the Sinti and Roma and a wall with 13 glass information boards with a chronological account of the persecution of the Sinti and Roma under National Socialism. The theme of the memorial is the history of the persecution and the annihilation of the Sinti and Roma in the Nazi period as well as the continued persecution and discrimination after the war and the refusal to grant them recognition as victims of Nazism.

The chronology provides a sketch of the stations of the journey made by the Sinti and Roma to their destruction in the twelve years of Nazi rule from the time when they were first sent to the concentration camps in 1933 to the shootings by the Einsatzgruppen in the east and the murders in the death camps.

The quotations by Helmut Schmidt and Roman Herzog can only be understood in the context of the dealings of the Federal Republic with the Sinti and Roma throughout its history. In a watershed decision of 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that the Sinti and Roma for the most part ‘lacked the ethical motivation to respect the property of others because, like primitive peoples, they had an unchecked compulsion to settle wherever they wished’. It followed that a finding of persecution ‘on racial grounds’ could only be said to have occurred with the mass deportations in 1943.[51] In 1963 this date was brought back to Himmler’s decree of 1938, which provided for ‘tackling the gypsy problem in the light of the inner characteristics of that race’ and so treating the earlier persecution as a justifiable course of police action.  The persecution of the Sinti and Roma after 1945 demonstrates a frightening degree of continuity with the Nazi period. The names of the relevant departments changed but the structures of ‘combating the gypsies’ scarcely altered. Despite many reservations in both political and legal quarters, the old ‘gypsy specialists’ continued to operate with the same official records and barely modified regulations.[52]

For a long time, acts of persecution and continued humiliations prevented the Sinti and Roma from organising and defending themselves successfully. This changed in 1980 with a well-publicized campaign on the part of Sinti civil rights activists, who went on hunger strike in the former concentration camp of Dachau and who then set up the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma in 1982.[53] Helmut Schmidt responded to this with a reception for a delegation of the association. His statement that the crimes against the Sinti and Roma amounted to ‘genocide’ was an important, though, as we shall see, not yet sufficient step on the road to recognition.[54]

The Sinti and Roma continued to be treated as second-class victims. After 1989, in the debates surrounding the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe, a secondary discourse emerged that emphasized the ‘special status’ of the Jewish victims and rejected a joint memorial to the Jewish victims of genocide on the one hand and the Sinti and Roma on the other.[55] Historians emphasized the unique nature of the murder of the Jews. In March 1997, Roman Herzog, the President of the Federal Republic of the day, responded to these debates while on a visit to the Cultural and Document Centre of the Sinti and Roma.  He pointed out that the same motives, the same intentions and the same methods had been at work in the genocide of the Sinti and Roma as had been present ‘in the case of the Jews’.

The Federal Government agreed with the Central Council that the Sinti and Roma should have their own memorial close to the Brandenburger Tor. For fifteen years the project stalled. There were debates about whether the Central Council was entitled to speak for all Sinti and Roma, about whether the term ‘gypsies’ should continue to be used despite its negative connotations and whether Roman Herzog’s statement could still be appealed to in the light of various objections.[56] In 2007 the Bundesrat intervened and called on the Federal Government to make good on its promise of 1992.[57]

Following its thematic structure, the memorial encompasses three time domains. The chronology points to the Nazi period while the quotations from Schmidt and Herzog refer to the years of non-recognition after 1945. But the water that pours perpetually over the edge of the pool stands for the present, a time of sorrow that has not run dry.

The memorial’s emotional impact acquires its intensity from the authenticity of the means of expression and the intimate nature of the location. These means of expression include simple natural elements such as water, the stone that reminds us of the black triangular badge worn by the Sinti and Roma in the camps, and the flower that stands for the uniqueness of each individual victim. A sign of Sinti and Roma cultural autonomy is provided by the poem around the edge of the pool by the Italian Roma poet Santino Spinelli and a violin piece by the Sinti musician Romeo Franz that can be heard in the background.[58]

The intimate nature of the location derives from the way the interior of the memorial is constructed, in contrast to the public space of the exterior. The artist Dani Karavan has placed his memorial in the little clearing in the Tiergarten provided by the Land Berlin together with signs pointing to the path leading past the memorial and on to the Reichstag. The visitor enters through an almost tunnel-like passage. His gaze is directed towards the memorial, which is enclosed by the natural backdrop of trees that reinforces the concentric arrangement, and focuses on the flower in the middle of the pool. With its 12-metre diameter, the pool is calculated to create an almost community-like feeling among the group of mourners surrounding it. Anyone who glances at the water will discover that it reflects not his own image but, depending on the angle, the image of whoever is standing around the pool, the trees surrounding the clearing or indeed the over-arching sky, so that the entire site seems larger and more open.

The emotional aspects of the memorial are counterpointed by the detailed information and the quotations from Schmidt and Herzog referred to above. The emotional and informational elements are of equal weight and balance each other out so that the memorial moves us without overwhelming and informs us without lecturing.

Even though the memorial gives us much to think about, it lacks the confrontational element necessary for proper self-reflection that is particularly in evidence in the memorial for homosexuals. The quotations from Herzog and Schmidt are more explicitly challenging. They face towards the Reichstag, towards the legislature as the authentic representative of the republic whose task it is to grant recognition to a historically much-persecuted minority.

The fact that the memorial has to carry so many meanings prevents it from conveying a single overall message, as is the case with the memorial to homosexuals. In general terms, it expresses the desire for recognition that is still being withheld from the Sinti and Roma. In particular, the memorial can be seen as an appeal to the public to engage with the history of the Sinti and Roma, which up to now has failed to find any place in the collective memory of German guilt.

The point of view projected by the memorial is that of the Central Council. It has spent over twenty years campaigning for the construction of the memorial, in part in the face of hefty opposition.[59] The Federation did indeed fund the project and the Land Berlin provided the site. But both the Federal and Land authorities decided to dispense with a competition. The government was reluctant to unleash a new public debate about the ticklish question of creating a hierarchy of victims, while the Berlin Senate shied away from the costs of a new procedure. For its part, the Central Council feared further years of delay.[60] It therefore seized the initiative when the Israeli artist Dani Karavan offered to design a memorial.


A  Place of Learning in the Tradition of the Critical Appraisal of the Past – The Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of National Socialist ‘Euthanasia’ Murders

The essential design elements of the Centre are a long desk, which carries the information, while the key visual feature is a blue glass wall about 2.5 metres tall and 30 metres long, mounted on the grey floor-covering of the site.  Forty metres away, this is joined by a commemorative plaque of 1989 that is set into the ground. In the report explaining her design, Ursula Wilms, the architect, ascribed an emotional quality to the blue glass wall. It stood, she wrote, for the link between the living and the murder victims.[61] Primarily, though, the glass wall acts as a signal for passers-by and car drivers.[62]

The description ‘Memorial and Information Centre’ itself makes clear that we are dealing here with a place of remembrance of a novel kind. Unlike the other four memorials, this one was established at its historical location, 4 Tiergartenstraße, the headquarters of the organization responsible for the ‘euthanasia’ murders, and it informs the public about the campaign to destroy psychiatric patients and other victims in its actual historical context.

The information provided ranges from the eugenics debates of the nineteenth century and the efforts to introduce ‘euthanasia’ in the 1920s and continues through the forced sterilizations and ‘euthanasia’ murders carried out by the Nazis right down to the post-war period. The documentation concludes with the biographies of victims and perpetrators as well as the topography of the locations in which people were murdered during the different phases of the war as part of the ‘euthanasia’ programme.

As with the homosexuals and the Sinti and Roma, the story after 1945 is one of sparing the perpetrators, ‘forgetting’ about the victims and failing to grant them recognition. In line with Federal German reparations legislation, these victims did not figure as the victims of Nazi crimes.[63] Demands for compensation by relatives of the ‘euthanasia’ victims were met with the argument that their relatives would have been unlikely to be able to provide for them had they been cured and freed.[64] In the case of victims of forcible sterilization, it was asserted that they could provide for themselves because ‘the reduction of the ability to provide for oneself’ as a result of the operation would have been below 25%.[65] Moreover, in their case, the view was adopted that these medical interventions had taken place in accordance with the law. Disabled people were sterilized in countries such as Sweden and the USA so that the question of compensation ‘had no foreign policy relevance’.[66]

It is true enough that since the 1960s there has been something of a rethink on the part of some politicians. As in the case of other victims, the payment of hardship funds was approved in the 1980s,[67] but for the majority of those affected this help came too late. In 1987 the League for the Victims of ‘Euthanasia’ and Forced Sterilization was founded. At this point the Bundestag too at long last managed to arrive at a critical evaluation of Nazi legal judgements and laws. Not until 2007 did they reach the point of repealing the Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring. That was the same year in which the Round Table for establishing the memorial was founded.

Among the broad alliance that called for the creation of the Memorial and Information Centre, supplied the conception for it and helped it to prevail politically, there were, apart from numerous historians of medicine, curators of memorials, committed citizens and victims’ relatives, also representatives of disabled groups and associations and members of the third generation, who looked upon this historical topic with one eye on current issues. The contents of the Information Desk were developed on the basis of the knowledge transfer project ‘To remember is to commemorate and inform’, sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

At the end of the desk there is a quotation from Karl Arendt, who was murdered in 1941:’…I shall seek to uphold whatever is human in my humble self…’ this quotation makes clear that the central concern of this memorial is the inclusive ethic of a society in which all human beings have an equal claim to preserve their own dignity. The disability-friendly design, with its listening stations and texts in easy-to-understand language, make it clear that it is complying with the principle of inclusiveness.

Twenty years after the Neue Wache, it appears that German memory culture has taken a turn towards a more value-driven historical view that attempts to make the debate with the past bear fruit for the present.


Conflicting Memory Constructs

If we compare the five memorials with one another, we are struck by a clear distinction between the memorials for the acknowledged and the unacknowledged victims. The Neue Wache and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe focus exclusively on the past while at the same time relying predominantly on emotional design features.

In contrast, the three memorials for the ‘forgotten’ victims vary in both theme and temporal focus. The memorial for the persecuted homosexuals emphasizes discrimination in the present. The Sinti and Roma memorial stresses both the genocide under the Nazis and discrimination and non-recognition in the decades after the end of the war. Moreover, it represents the continuing exclusion of the minority in society today. A similar time frame is set by the Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of the ‘Euthanasia’ Murders, although in the latter case discrimination began well before the Nazis. In all three memorials, though with different emphases, we are struck by the presence of informative and reflective elements that remind us of the perpetrators and the times following the end of National Socialism.

A further difference between the recognized and the ‘forgotten’ victims is the question of the agents responsible for the content of the memorials. In the case of the redesign of the Neue Wache it was Chancellor Helmut Kohl who took the decision. His vote was also crucial in the case of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.  The other three memorials were indeed financed by central government, but their design was largely left to the victims’ organizations themselves. This was the only way for the victims to make use of the memorials to draw attention to their history.

These differences help to explain the memorials’ great diversity. The Neue Wache is conceived as a pure monument to the victims in which the different groups of victims are commemorated but solely from the viewpoint of the group of German victims. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is likewise a victims’ monument but the perspective from which it is designed remains open. The underground information annexe does nothing to alter this. The memorial to persecuted homosexuals is also a perpetrator memorial looked at through the eyes of the victims; the victims no longer see themselves as victims and nor do they view the perpetrators as ‘the Nazis’, but as the majority in society. The memorial to the murdered Sinti and Roma is a victims’ memorial from the viewpoint of the victims, who still see themselves today as the victims of discrimination and non-recognition. The monument for the victims of ‘euthanasia’ murders is informative from an inclusive civic standpoint that does not necessarily confine itself to the standpoint of the victims.

The reason for the division into recognized and ‘forgotten’ victims appears to stem from the fact that the memorials to the recognized victims are based on a victim discourse that has been established for decades, but which is largely absent from the discourse about the other groups. The participants involved, whether they are representatives of the victim groups or, as in the case of the ‘euthanasia’ murders, civic alliances, were forced to develop their own discourse, a process that continues. This explains why there is a generation gap between the viewpoints of the recognized victims and the ‘forgotten’ ones.

We would underestimate the significance of the memorials to the ‘forgotten’ victims, if we were to imagine it lay exclusively in the fact that the Federal Government has created a central place of memory for these groups as well. The decisive achievement of the latter three memorials lies rather in the breach with the idea of memorialisation underlying the Neue Wache.  For one thing, they have significantly widened our conception of perpetrators. This concept now includes not just the members of the political leadership and the terror apparatus of the regime. It shines a light on the surrounding society, the attitudes of broad sections of the German population, which provided a cover for many misdeeds. The memorial to the homosexuals persecuted by the Nazis is an example of this point of view. For another, the memorials no longer leave out of account the long historical continuities which place the crimes in their proper context. The memorial to the ‘euthanasia’ victims reminds us of early discourses about segregating disabled people, the memorial to the murdered Sinti and Roma reminds us of the refusal to recognize this minority after the war and to continue to discriminate against them. All three memorials contribute to a new understanding of the German past and in a way different from that provided by the memorial to the murdered Jews of Europe.

In the first decades after the Second World War, many Germans regarded National Socialism as an incomprehensible catastrophe that had forced its way into German history, a catastrophe of which they imagined themselves the chief victims. Nowadays, by contrast, in the light of our increasing knowledge about National Socialism, the Germans of those days can no longer simply regard themselves as victims. Further clarification of their entanglement in the history of the regime continues to be indispensable. It should be assumed that additional memorials will be forthcoming. One proposal for a memorial to the victims of the war of annihilation has already been tabled.

(first published in: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, 62 (2014) 11, pp. 881-900)



[1] The Neue Wache [the New Guardhouse] stands out as having also been dedicated to victims of crimes other than those of National Socialism.

[2] For the history of the memorializing of the victims of war in the Federal Republic after 1945, see Alexandra Kaiser, Von Helden und Opfern. Eine Geschichte des Volkstrauertages. Frankfurt am Main 2010, 210-403.

[3] Helmut Kohl in an interview with Patrick Bahners and Frank Schirrmacher in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) of 17 September 1998.

[4] Cf. Sabine Moller, Die Entkonkretisierung der NS-Herrschaft in der Ära Kohl. Die Neue Wache. Das Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas. Das Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Hanover 1998, 31-39.

[5] Christoph Stölzl, Interview with the author, Weimar, 7 October 2013.

[6] There was indeed a debate in the Bundestag on 14 May 1993, but by that time the relevant decisions had already been finalized and individual contracts awarded. One such contract was for the casting of the Kollwitz sculpture. See testimony by Christine Fischer-Defoy in ‘Schwierigkeit zu trauern. Gespräch zur Zukunft der Neuen Wache‘, in Akademie der Künste, Berlin (ed), Streit um die Neue Wache. Zur Gestaltung einer zentralen Gedenkstätte, Berlin 1993, 54-81, here 62.

[7] Alexandra Kaiser points out that Willy Brandt had used the formula ‘for the victims of war and violence’ as early as 1973, but that was in the context of a more nuanced commemoration. See Kaiser, Von Helden und Opfern, 275f.

[8] Deutscher Bundestag, 12 WP, 159th Session, 14 May 1993, 13449.

[9] At the demonstration of 14 November 1993, one objector carried a poster showing German soldiers shooting a woman. The poster was titled ‘All victims?’ See Robert Halbach (ed.) Nationaler Totenkult. Die Neue Wache. Eine Streitschrift zur zentralen deutschen Gedenkstätte, Berlin 1995, 54 and 182.

[10] Helmut Kohl, Conversation in the FAZ, 17 September 1998.

[11] Christoph Stölzl, Interview with the present author, Weimar, 7 October 2013.

[12] See Kaiser, Von Helden und Opfern, 288-291.

[13] See Stefanie Endlich, ‘Zurück in die Fünfziger? Die Neue Wache – ein alter Hut!‘, in Halbach (ed), Nationaler Totenkult, 11-24.

[14] Adenauer, Konrad, ‘Rede vor Studenten im Chemischen Institut der Universität Bonn‘ 21 July 1948, in Hans-Peter Schwarz (ed) Konrad Adenauer. Reden 1917-1967. Eine Auswahl, 107-122, here 119.

[15] Constantin Goschler, Schuld und Schulden. Die Politik der Wiedergutmachung für NS-Verfolgte seit 1945, Göttingen 2005, 139.

[16] Christoph Stölzl, Interview with the present author, Weimar, 7 October 2013.

[17] Senatsverwaltung für Bau- und Wohnungswesen (ed.), ‘Künstlerischer Wettbewerb. Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas. Ausschreibung‘, Berlin 1994, in Ute Heimrod/ Günter Schlusche/ Horst Seferens (eds), Der Denkmalstreit – das Denkmal? Die Debatte um das “Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas“. Eine Dokumentation, Berlin 1999, 169-216, here 177.

[18] www.stiftung-denkmal.de (22 February 2014)

[19] Lea Rosh, ‘Von der Idee zur Entscheidung. Ein langer Weg‘, in Rosh (ed.), “Die Juden, das sind doch die anderen“. Der Streit um ein deutsches Denkmal, Berlin/ Vienna 1999, 13-151, here 15.

[20] Appeal of the Public Campaigning Group ‘Perspektive Berlin’ in January 1990 ‘, cited in Rosh, Von der Idea zur Entscheidung, 20.

[21] See Matthias Haß, Das Aktive Museum und die Topographie des Terrors, Berlin 2012, 29 and 44-53.

[22] See Eberhard Jäckel, Hitlers Herrschaft. Vollzug einer Weltanschauung. Stuttgart 1999. For insight into the circle of sponsors around Lea Rosh, see Heimrod/Schlusche/Seferens (eds), Der Denkmalstreit, 262.

[23] See Ignatz Bubis mit Peter Sichrovsky, “Damit bin ich noch längst nicht fertig.“ Die Autobiographie. Frankfurt am Main 1996, 263.

[24] Abgeordnetenhaus Berlin, 12 WP, 61st Session on 27 January 1994. The Land Berlin took more or less no part in the memorial project.

[25] Stefanie Endlich/Rainer Höynck, ‘”Resignative Grundhaltung von Schadensbegrenzung”. Noch keine Entscheidung für das Berliner Holocaust-Mahnmal‘, in Aufbau, New York, 3 July 1998.

[26] Heimrod/Schlusche/Seferens (eds), Der Denkmalstreit, 882.

[27] Peter Eisenman, ‘Erfahrung am eigenen Leib. Der Architekt Peter Eisenman über die Walser-Debatte und die neue Kritik an seinem Entwurf für das Holocaust-Mahnmal. Ein Gespräch mit Hanno Rautenberg‘, in Die Zeit, 10 December 1998.

[28] Senatsverwaltung für Bau- und Wohnungswesen (ed.). Künstlerischer Wettbewerb, 215.

[29] See Sibylle Quack/ Dagmar von Wilcken, ‘Der Mord an den Juden als Ausstellungsprojekt. Widerstreit von Thematik, Konzept und Gestaltung im Ort der Information‘, in Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas (eds), Materialien für die ermordeten Juden Europas, Berlin 2007, 40-49.

[30] Peter Conradi, ‘Informationsbrief‘, 25 March 1998, in Heimrod/Schlusche/Seferens (eds), Der Denkmalstreit, 1039. The two other sponsors evidently had similar concerns.

[31] Christoph Stölzl, Interview with the present author, Weimar, 7 October 2013.

[32] Anton Pfeiffer, Minister of State to the Federal Chancellor, ‘Presseerklärung’, 22 May 1998, in Heimrod/Schlusche/Seferens (eds), Der Denkmalstreit, 1052.

[33] Peter Eisenman, Interview with the present author, New York, 15 April 2014.

[34] Lea Rosh, ’Die Ermordeten zurückholen’, Interview in the taz, 6 April 1995.

[35] See ‘Streit um einen Zahn’ in the taz, 12 May 2005. The plan came to nothing because Jewish objectors maintained that the removal of a tooth from the camp was a sacrilege.

[36] Peter Eisenman, Interview with the present author, New York, 15 April 2014.

[37] Peter Eisenman in conversation with Peter Engelmann, Part 2, Deutsches Haus at New York University, 28 February 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3RxMxpZNr5M (6 April 2014).

[38] Peter Eisenman, ‘Architecture Matters.’ Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Lecture Series, September 2005, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AJMMnb0qrXA (5 April 2014)

[39] Christian Reimesch, Vergessene Opfer des Nationalsozialismus? Zur Entschädigung von Homosexuellen, Kriegsdienstverweigerern, Sinti und Roma und Kommunisten in der Bundesrepublik, Berlin 2003, 36.

[40] Goschler, Schuld und Sühne, 126.

[41] See Deutscher Bundestag (ed.), Wiedergutmachung und Entschädigung für nationalsozialistisches Unrecht. Öffentliche Anhörung des Innenausschusses des Deutschen Bundestages am 24. Juni 1987, Bonn 1987.

[42] This automatic process was rejected above all by representatives of the parliamentary CDU.  In the decisive vote in the Bundestag in June 1999, not least in order to avoid the ‘consequences for the erection of further memorials for other victim groups’ (Norbert Lammert), 40 per cent of all members of the Bundestag, including the great majority of the CDU/CSU parties, voted in favour of dedicating the planned Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe also ‘to all victims of National Socialist crimes against humanity’. Deutscher Bundestag, 14th WP, 48th Session of 25 June 1999, 4089 and 4126-4129. See also Günter Nooke’s statement in the Bundestag debate on the memorial to homosexuals persecuted under National Socialism. Deutscher Bundestag, 15th WP, 83rd  Session of 12 December 2003, 7342.

[43] Quoted in Hans-Georg Stümke,’Wiedergutmachung an homosexuellen NS-Opfern von 1945 bis heute’, in Burkhard Jellonek/ Rüdiger Lautmann (eds), Nationalsozialistischer Terror gegen Homosexuelle. Verdrängt und ungesühnt, Paderborn et al, 329-338, here 334.

[44] Bundesverfassungsgericht, Judgement of 10 May 1957, Rdnr. 168.

[45] Ibid., Rdnr. 173. The Court cited a draft clause in the Penal Code from 1919.

[46] See Hans-Georg Stümke, Homosexuelle in Deutschland. Eine politische Geschichte, Munich 1989, 127 and 146.

[47] Martin Dannecker, ‘Der glühende Wunsch nach Anerkennung und die Affirmation der Differenz. Von den Homophilen der Nachkriegszeit zur Schwulenbewegung der 1970er Jahre‘, in Andreas Pretzel/Volker Weiß (eds), Ohnmacht und Aufbegehren. Homosexuelle Männer in der frühen Bundesrepublik, 231-241, here 239f.

[48] Senatsverwaltung für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur. Kunst im Stadtraum und am Bau, Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen. Dokumentation des Auftaktkolloquiums am 7. Und 8. April 2005 im Abgeordnetenhaus Berlin, Berlin, August 2005, 149.

[49]  The second video contains images of lesbians as well as gays. Female homosexuality was introduced following pressure from the leading feminist Alice Schwarzer and was criticized by the leading figures in the memorial world on the grounds that lesbians were not as a rule persecuted by the Nazis because of their sexuality. See Stefanie Endlich, ‘Das Berliner Homosexuellen-Denkmal. Kontext, Erwartungen und die Debatte um den Videofilm’, in Insa Eschebach (ed.), Homophobie und Devianz. Weibliche und männliche Sexualität im Nationalsozialismus, Berlin 2012, 167-186, here 183-185. See also Stellungnahme der KZ-Gedenkstätten in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, http://www.gedenkort.de/hin-ag190507.htm  (21February 2014).

[50] Senatsverwaltung für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur, Denkmal für die im Nationalsozialismus verfolgten Homosexuellen, 149.

[51] Cited according to Iulia-Karin Patrut, ‘Antiziganismus/Opferkonkurrenz’, in Torben Fischer/ Matthias N. Lorenz (eds), ‘Lexikon der ‘Vergangenheitsbewältigung‘ in Deutschland. Debatten- und Diskursgeschichte des Nationalsozialismus nach 1945, Bielefeld 2007, 313-320, here 315.

[52] See Daniel Strauß, ‘Zur Nachkriegsgeschichte der Sinti und Roma in Deutschland’, in Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg (ed), Zwischen Romantisierung und Rassismus. Sinti und Roma 600 Jahre in Deutschland, Stuttgart 1998. 26-34.

[53] On the development of the civil rights movement of Sinti and Roma in the Federal Republic, see Kathrin Reemtsma, Sinti und Roma. Geschichte, Kultur, Gegenwart. Munich 1996, 136-144.

[54] The discourse about genocide, which increasingly gathered pace in the Federal Republic in the 1970s, was stimulated by the Society for Threatened Peoples, which was highly supportive in the establishment of the Central Council of the German Sinti and Roma. See ‘40 Jahre Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker‘ , in bedrohte Völker (pogrom), Special Issue, No. 251, 2008, No. 6.

[55] Gilad Margalit, Die Nachkriegsdeutschen und ‘ihre Zigeuner’. Die Behandlung der Sinti und Roma im Schatten von Auschwitz, Berlin 2001, 233 and passim.

[56] See Eberhard Jäckel, ‘Wider zwei Legenden über den Holocaust‘, in FAZ, 30 June 2000; Michael Zimmermann, ’Die nationalsozialistische Verfolgung der Juden und ”Zigeuner“. Ein Vergleich‘, in ZfG 52 (2004) 1, 50-71.

[57] See Bundesrat, Session 840, 20 December 2007.

[58] See Stefanie Endlich, ‘Homage to the Sinti and Roma’, in Kulturwerk des berufsverbandes bildender künstler berlin (eds), kunststadt stadtkunst 60 (2013), 24-25.

[59] Angela Merkel, the Federal Chancellor, underscored the role of the Central Council at the inauguration of the memorial by thanking Romani Rose for his tireless efforts. See http://m.bundesregierung.de/ContentArchiv/DE/Archiv17/reden/2012/10/2012-10-24-merkel-denkmal.html  (10 June 2014).

[60] Romani Rose, Interview with the present author, 15 July 2013.

[61] See Der Regierende Bürgermeister von Berlin. Senatskanzlei Kulturelle Angelegenheiten, Gestaltungswettbewerb Gedenk- und Informationsort für die Opfer der nationalsozialistischen ‚Euthanasie‘-Morde am Ort der Planungszentrale, Tiergartenstraße 4, Berlin. Bericht der Vorprüfung zur Sitzung des Preisgerichts am 22. und 23. November 2012, (Tarnnummer) 1972.

[62] In the words of Ursula Wilms in a presentation of the design on 29 January 2013 at the session on ‘National Socialist “Euthanasia” crimes in European perspective’, in a conference from 28 to 30 January 2013 in Berlin. Based on notes taken by the present author.

[63] See §1 of the Federal Compensation Law (BEG).

[64] See Deutscher Bundestag, 10. WP, Drucksache 10/6287, 31 October 1986, 17 and 38.

[65] See Ibid., 17 and 37, and also §31(BEG).

[66] Henning Tümmers, Anerkennungskämpfe. Die Nachgeschichte der nationalsozialistischen Zwangssterilisationen, Göttingen 2011, 138.

[67] Between the start of the 1980s and 2003 181 people damaged by the ‘euthanasia’ programme qualified for hardship payments. See Stefanie Westermann, ‘Der verweigerte Blick in den Spiegel – NS “Euthanasie“-Opfer und Wir’, in Westermann/ Richard Kühl/ Tim Ohnhäuser (eds), NS-’Euthanasie‘ und Erinnerung. Vergangenheitsaufarbeitung – Gedenkformen – Betroffenenperspektiven, Berlin 2011, 231-244, here 237. For data about victims of forced sterilization up to 2006, see Tümmers, Anerkennungskämpfe, 295 and 298-300.