The museum representation of Nazi-perpetration
Sarah Kleinmann (Institute of Saxon History and Cultural Anthropology)
Paper short abstract:
The contribution focuses on the representation of Nazi-perpetration in several permanent exhibitions in Austria and Germany. Two aspects are mainly regarded: general approaches to interpreting “the aggressor” and potential gender-specific connotations of female and male perpetrators and their crimes.
Paper long abstract:
Exhibitions enjoy credibility to a great extend (Thiemeyer 2010: 17) and are important parts of cultural memory (Pieper 2010: 195). They can also influence cultural memory (Beier de Haan 2005: 147). Because of that, it is extremely relevant, how the Nazi-crimes and Nazi-perpetrators are shown nowadays in museums. There are certain things to reflect on, like ethical aspects concerning the victims or concerns of survivors (Lutz 2009: 205). Often, the responsible institutions reflect carefully on it, sometimes it seems as if they don't. Consistently, curators and historians intend to represent the perpetrators carefully, but still there can be unintended messages in the exhibitions, for instance due to a specific combination of photographs, lighting and exhibition room. Seven permanent exhibitions of memorial sites and documentation centres in Austria and Germany were analyzed regarding the representation of male and female Nazi-perpetrators - per photographs, documents, three-dimensional objects, orchestration on the whole. The analyzed exhibitions respectively museums in Germany are Mittelbau-Dora Memorial, Grafeneck Memorial, Documentation Centre Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nürnberg, Wewelsburg 1933-1945 Memorial Museum and Documentation Obersalzberg. In Austria, Mauthausen Memorial as well as Hartheim Memorial were analyzed.
Conflict as cultural heritage