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Research on SS racial fanaticism

Dana Schlegelmilch, a research assistant at the Wewelsburg District Museum, visited the International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in early August to view file cards on Weimar´s “Administrative Office for Race Questions” for a new exhibition which is being planned. “It was exciting to be able to research the archives digitally,” said Schlegelmilch.

Six staff members are working to reorganize the documentation center and memorial´s exhibition “Wewelsburg 1933-1945” which was opened in 1982 in the Paderborn district. Heinrich Himmler leased the triangular castle in 1934 and had it converted into an SS “Leadership School”. From 1936 on, Himmler also used the castle as a representative meeting location for senior Nazi officials. In 1939 an outside detachment from the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, which had been administered as the independent camp Niederhagen since 1941, was established for the work at the castle. The SS chief had the Wewelsburg blown up before American troops arrived in March 1945. “The new exhibition aims to document not only the local history of the Wewelsburg but also the SS in general,” reported Schlegelmilch. “We will of course also focus on the SS´s racial politics.”

National Socialist racial ideology supported the promotion and advancement of a Nordic “master race” and the “eradication”, sterilization and persecution of those the Nazis deemed “hereditarily defective” and “non-Aryan”. “In July 1933, shortly after the announcement of the “Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring”, an “Administrative Office for Race Questions” was opened in Weimar, in which SS men were actively involved,” explained the 29-year old researcher. The office organized training courses on the study of race and eugenics (hereditary health theory) for doctors, lawyers and teachers. Moreover, the office systematically compiled genetic data on the Thuringian public, whereby it had access to data from the local health authority. Workers at the administrative office issued reports which often led to the sterilization of people classified as “hereditarily defective.”

“I´m on the lookout for just such reports,” explained the historian. “The ITS has copies of cards on political judgments made by the “administrative office for race questions” but unfortunately without references to a “genetic health court” which decided on forced sterilization.” To that end, Schlegelmilch may continue her research at the main Thuringian National Archive in Weimar. “Some of the documents I have come across during my research at the ITS are very helpful, such as a pre-printed form for reports on race,” said the visitor.

The new exhibition is slated to open on April 15, 2010.