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Visit by the “Friedrich Naumann” Foundation

The participants discussed compensation issues.

A field excursion led members of the “Friedrich Naumann” foundation from Wiesbaden to Bad Arolsen on 21 August, where they took part in a seminar with the title “Looking for Traces and Coping with the Past in Germany” at the ITS. More than 30 interested participants from Wetzlar and Frankfurt paid their first visit to the ITS and learned about the archive, its history and tasks.

Following a general introduction, the subject of indemnification was dealt with in a workshop. Using selected documents, participants could gain an insight into some fates and indemnification claims individual survivors from various groups of persecuted persons had filed. Thus, they looked into the compensation practice after 1945. The results were discussed in a joint talk round afterwards.

Herta Virnich from Wetzlar stressed that in her opinion the German phrase for compensation “Wiedergutmachung” (to make good again) was a “horrible term”, because such an injustice could never be compensated for. With regard to the indemnification cases and the categorization of prisoners applied by the Nazis, Sigrid Kornman, deputy leader of the liberal Democrats (FDP) in Wetzlar, wondered: “Who defines who is ‘antisocial’, what ‘antisocial’ means and why people are called ‘antisocial’. Do not some societies show an ‘antisocial’ conduct towards people?”

A clip from “Angelus Mortis”, a documentary about Josef Mengele’s pseudo-medical experiments and about Hugo Höllenreiner, a survivor of these experiments, provoked many emphatic comments. The film inspired the attendants of the seminar to reflect on trauma and the lasting effects of history. In conclusion, they defined hope, responsibility and remembrance as joint consequential values for themselves.