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Research on the Former Police Prison Klapperfeld

Mirja Keller of the University of Frankfurt/Main brought two themes to the International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen for research: Jewish self-help and the fate of the prisoners from the former police prison Klapperfeld in Frankfurt/Main, during the Nazi era. “Thanks to the digitization, the archives of the ITS can be searched easily. This provides a tremendous time saver,” praised Keller.

The researcher is currently writing a doctoral thesis on Jewish self-help. The focus is primarily on the Zionist pioneer movement of Brith Chaluzim Datiim that supported the emigration to Palestine. “Around 2,000 young people could be sent across the borders and be saved,” says Keller. “In order to get the necessary paperwork and funds, international networks were established with religious authorities, resistance groups, and government officials.” For her doctorate, Keller researched various Israeli archives, in addition to interviewing survivors. In the ITS archives she traced several individual biographies of former youths.

Keller's second theme focuses on the former police prison of Klapperfeld in Frankfurt/Main during the Nazi era. “The prison played a central role for the Gestapo,” explains Keller. “From 1943, in addition to the political prisoners, especially Communists and Social Democrats, more and more forced laborers were detained.” Partners from the so-called “mixed marriages” with Jews were also detained. In the ITS archives, Keller studied the deportation lists of more than 3,000 prisoners who were deported to labor camps and concentration camps.

The results of this research will contribute to the permanent exhibition which is on the site of the former prison on Klapperfeld Street 5. The first part of the exhibition focuses on the Nazi past of the prison and its use by the Frankfurt police and Gestapo from 1933 and 1945. “We want to gather the basic biographical data of all the prisoners, and enter it all into a computer,” announced Keller. The biographies will be enhanced by timely interviews with witnesses. “This exhibition provides visitors with an insight into the different means of persecution, the various types of resistance that took place, the communication between the detainees themselves, and the attempts to contact the outside world. In addition, relatives are coming regularly, wishing to learn more and ask for documents.”

About 30 dedicated individuals have joined forces on the project “Faites votre jeu”, which since late April 2009 uses the former prison as a self-managed center. In addition to managing the exhibition and visitor attendance, the initiative also supports pedagogical work. The Fritz Bauer Institute along with the ITS will offer a teacher training program on 22 November 2012 on the theme of detainees.

Faites votre jeu!
Klapperfeldstreet 5
60313 Frankfurt
0163 9401683