Research Project

Visitor behaviour at memorials with a double past

The project examines the background of discussions on competing pasts about the changing perceptions of the memorials at Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald (concentration camps during the Nazi period, special camps after the war, re-arrangement during the GDR ) the assessment of their relationship and their relevance for the present. It has to be determined to which extent patterns of perception correlate with age, educational level, east- or west German or foreign origin, and political position when visiting the exhibitions. The project will provide insights into the current historical consiouscness, particularly when dealing with the Nazi period and the double legacy of the GDR (repression and anti-fascism), into the actual visitor behaviour and history didactics. The empirical research is based on questionnaires concerning the visit of the memorials, intensive interviews with both staff and visitors of memorials, as well as book reports.

The project was funded by the Federal Foundation for the Study of the SED dictatorship in the years 2007 and 2008. It was initiated now closed research institution of work, education, participation. The Institute for Social Movements took over the sponsorship for the year 2008.

The project was supported with the expert advice of Prof. Dr. Bernd Faulenbach (history didactics and culture) and Prof. Dr. Klaus Harney (empirical) and conducted by:

Franz-Josef Jelich (project manager)

Susanne Hantke (research assistant)