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Krefeld under National Socialism

Ingrid Schupetta, Head of the Nazi Documentation Center in Krefeld, has passed four days of intensive research at the archives of the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen for a renewal of the 20-year-old exhibition of the center. “I have been looking at the documents in the ITS database from various angles”, says the political scientist. “I have discovered interesting records.”

Our intention is to compile all documents that have a direct refrence to Krefeld or were created there during the Nazi era, explaines the 58-year-old. Schupetta's focus is less on the victims’ lives, but more on the places and sites that played an important part at the time. “I am asking myself questions such as: what might be of interest to children and young people today? Which aspects are of relevance for the future? And which lesson can people learn who had never been in touch with the subject or the victims and survivors of National Socialism?”

A list that shows the camps for forced labourers in Krefeld and was compiled by the town’s office in the post-war era is kept at the ITS. “Based on this list we might work out an individual town map that guides people interested in the town’s history to the sites and scenes of the time”, Schupetta outlines her idea. She has already experimented with something of this kind by making educational use of a photo that shows a sports festival organised by the Hitler youth in the town park. “The Krefeld youngsters often meet in this park. The photo taken in their surroundings establishes a link between yesterday and today. Thus they have something extraordinary to grasp - something outside the routine pictures in their school books.” Apart from including the documents in her pedagogic work, which is an important aspect for her, she is looking for exceptional or rare items and documents she can show in the Krefeld exhibition. “The visit to the ITS was important. I have found details that fascinate me,” says the researcher.

Schupetta has been directing the Nazi Documentation Center at the “Villa Merländer” in Krefeld since 1991. The villa was built in 1924/25 as home for the Jewish silk cloth trader Richard Merländer, who was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in July 1942 and murdered in Treblinka. “The site is a special place where Jewish-German history becomes perceivable“, explains the Head of the Documentation Center.