"Dictatorship is always accompanied by oppression and results in the brutalisation of society. Engaging with Buchenwald as a site of National Socialist tyranny makes it possible to…"
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We commemorate the liberation of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camps 76 years ago. For the survivors, 11 April 1945 was a day to rejoice in their newly won freedom – and a day to mourn those who had not survived.
But what does 11 April mean to us today? What do Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora have to do with our lives now? Many people who support our work have already shared their personal statements with us.
Now it’s your turn. Join in and share your statement using #WeRemember #76liberation on twitter.
Buchenwald is memory and admonishment, and it calls on us to take a stance and, above all, to embody that stance in our life. To defend our fragile democracy and human rights against anyone who disdains, abuses or tramples them.
satirist, journalist and TV presenter
The Buchenwald Memorial is a place of remembrance, a monument that serves as a warning, and a place to learn. So that we do not forget those who lost their lives here; that we do everything possible to ensure people will never again do what they did to each other here; that we preserve the knowledge of what happened here and pass it on to our children – this is what makes the memorial important. Buchenwald cannot and will never be erased!
Mayor of Nordhausen
75 years ago, the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp complex and its subcamps were liberated. The anniversary of this liberation from one of the darkest hells ever to exist on earth is also a moment to remember those who could not escape the inferno. I am deeply saddened that the commemoration ceremony at the Dora camp had to be cancelled for so many potential guests from abroad, including survivors who may not have another opportunity to visit this site.
We will never again forget.
Professor Norbert Frei
Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board
What happened in the German concentration camps has occupied me since my school days during the 1960s. Through my participation in the Foundation’s Academic Advisory Board, Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora have been a focal point for more than 20 years. But for all that I have come to learn and understand, grappling with the history of these places – and with the history and crimes of the National Socialist period in general – is a task that is not and will never be finished, neither for me personally nor for our society.
Professor Jörg Ganzenmüller
Chairman of the Ettersberg Foundation
Dictatorship is always accompanied by oppression and results in the brutalisation of society. Engaging with Buchenwald as a site of National Socialist tyranny makes it possible to identify antidemocratic and inhumane thinking early on and expose the consequences of such attitudes.
superintendent in Weimar, Evangelical Church in Central Germany
Buchenwald is a place that I believe we must absolutely protect and defend today. The memory of the people who were murdered and of the suffering in Buchenwald tells us that we cannot be certain it will never happen again. Pay attention. The stories of human sympathy even under the most difficult living conditions are a good compass for our actions today.
Nordhausen District Administrator
The anniversary of the liberation of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp is a momentous date for the Nordhausen region, even 76 years later – a turning point in our history. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has once again put a stop to commemoration events involving personal encounters. I am therefore very grateful to the Memorial Foundation for its efforts to draw public attention to the anniversary of the liberation and to appropriately commemorate the victims and their suffering in a digital setting.
Artistic Director of the Theater Nordhausen
Every liberation is a salvation, but no liberation ever achieves complete salvation, so every liberation is accompanied by a task. The liberation of the concentration camps has been documented, and their disastrous aftermath has been frequently reported, written about and discussed. I believe my task is to listen to and better understand the victims of the camps and their heirs so that, through mutual exchange, we can help ease the woes and remain vigilant to prevent any part of this history from ever happening again.
Mayor of Weimar
The development of an international memory culture – and German memory culture in particular –requires authentic sites. When we can no longer talk to eyewitnesses, we need precise depictions and explanations of formative historical sites as well as an opportunity for the sensitive appreciation of them.
Sea-Watch captain, human rights activist and author
Never again! Oh, how easily the words pass our lips… too easily. Let us not merely pay lip service to this oath while remaining ignorant towards the brutal reality of antisemitism, racism and discrimination. Commemoration gives us an emotional connection to the reality of 280.000 people imprisoned in Buchenwald and to those who wanted to annihilate them. ‘Never again!’ has to mean that we learn this pledge through remembrance – so that we are aware not just of the man-made hell of National Socialism, but also of our own responsibility here and now.
Regional Bishop of the Evangelical Church in Central Germany
In the 1980s I visited Buchenwald with the Action Reconciliation Service for Peace and was able to speak with survivors and experience many moving moments. I later learned about the NKVD special camp Nr. 2. Suffering cannot be tallied up. The 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp entreats us to resist the beginnings of tyranny and oppression!
Stephan J. Kramer
President of the Thuringian State Office for the Protection of the Constitution
Buchenwald shows us the hell into which the victims of the Nazi regime were thrown and the depths of cruelty to which the perpetrators descended in their enthusiasm for their own inhumanity. Places like Buchenwald ultimately call upon us to ward off forces that want to relativise humanity. The motto ‘resist the beginnings’ is frighteningly relevant – we can see that very clearly these days.
My father always said to me: ‘Forgive, but do not forget’. And it is in memory of him that I make this statement today – with forgiveness, but without forgetting the cruelties suffered by millions of people.
journalist and author, coordinator of stopantisemitismus.de
I still remember the heavy feeling I had the first time I visited Buchenwald. Like a weight on my heart. I was a pupil at a Jewish primary school, too young and too ignorant to understand the scope of what had happened in this place, and indeed in this country that I call home. But the feeling burrowed in my memory. We need places like Buchenwald to remind us what people are capable of. That it happened here, in our home. And that, if we do not feel this weight in our heart, it can happen again.
Dr Ulrike Lorenz
President of the Klassik Stiftung Weimar
Buchenwald sends out a fundamental warning that becomes more relevant the farther we get from the history of the National Socialists’ crimes against humanity. ‘Never again!’ must not become an empty slogan – we need vigilance, engagement and solidarity from everyone, now and in the future.
Professor Susan Neiman
Director of the Einstein Forum in Potsdam
Never again! would be an empty statement if it remains focused on Nazi crimes. Anyone who detests those crimes must act decisively against every form of racism, of which antisemitism is only one example. The Buchenwald exhibit shows how easy it is to shut our eyes before racist violence.
Mayor of Altenburg
As a Thuringian, I feel that Buchenwald is synonymous with National Socialist tyranny, perfidious ideology and endless suffering. The camp complex is a structural testament to the unimaginable machinery of persecution and annihilation that arose in close proximity to the eponymous meeting place of the first national republic established in Germany. Buchenwald is therefore not only a site steeped in history, it is also a cautionary link between past and present. And thanks to the extraordinary scholarly and educational work of the Memorial Foundation, it is very important to current and future generations. Buchenwald is also, in a certain way, a place of triumph. When former prisoners now visit the camp on trips or to attend commemorative events, even 75 years after the liberation and the end of the war, they send us an important signal: they survived – they survived THIS. And they can bear witness to what they experienced in the camp.
Dr Ulrich Neymeyr
Bishop of Erfurt
For me, the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora memorials are places that warn us that democracy, humanity and tolerance must be stronger than contempt, nationalism and antisemitism. They also remind us that the facts of history must not be suppressed or skewed.
Sharon Dodua Otoo
writer and activist
Without an active commitment to retell stories, to visualise testimonies, to preserve documents, it becomes all too easy for once vivid images of cruelty to slip into a nebulous memory. Today I honour the memories of each person who survived and the many, who I hope, continue to rest in peace. With humility. #WeRemember
Dr Matthias Quent
Director of the Jena Institute for Democracy and Civil Society
For me, Buchenwald is a warning: It can happen again if we refuse to see what everyone could see at the time and can see now. If we refuse to see how right-wing radicals prepare for and commit new violence when they bluster about supposed self-defence and losing ‘parts of the population’ – like Höcke. If we refuse to see how false tolerance allows such thoughts to be voiced and then put into action, not because right-wing radicals are so strong today, but because some democrats are too egotistic or ignorant to fight the right-wing threat that has always had its roots in the heart of society. 76 years after the liberation of Buchenwald, anyone who makes right-wing radicals socially acceptable and helps them achieve power is even more morally reprehensible than those whose actions once ended in war and human annihilation – because today’s voters and enablers know from history where their actions can lead.
Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma
Today Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora are symbols of the breach of civilisation that was the Holocaust, which claimed the lives of 500,000 Sinti and Roma and 6 million Jews. By remembering this unparalleled crime against humanity, we take on responsibility for the present.
Professor Walter Rosenthal
President of Friedrich Schiller University Jena
I first visited Buchenwald on a cold, rainy day in autumn. As the historians led me across the roll call square and showed me the ovens, I grasped some of the horror of this place. Since then, discussions with Naftali Fürst and other survivors have both shocked and consoled me. Remembering both the horrors and the survivors is a priority for me as a university president – so that history never repeats itself.
Federal Minister (ret.), Chairwoman of the Board of Trustees of the Remembrance, Responsibility and Future Foundation
Buchenwald – the place of the Shoah, where man became wolf to man. Buchenwald is now a thorn and a warning: resist the beginnings – we must not allow ethno-nationalist thinking to become socially acceptable again, and we must step in when people are tyrannized, harassed and persecuted in our midst.
Dr Josef Schuster
President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany
This April marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora concentration camps. This place is particularly important to me because my father and grandfather were imprisoned in Buchenwald. Even in 2021, it will probably not be possible to commemorate the liberation in person with other survivors due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am therefore thankful that the memorial is honouring this anniversary digitally. Commemorating the victims, remembering the horror, and accepting the responsibility that arises from it must never come to an end.
Professor Sybille Steinbacher
Director of the Fritz Bauer Institute and member of the Academic Advisory Board of the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials Foundation
I first visited Buchenwald in the summer of 1992. I had just finished my master’s degree at the University of Munich and was involved in memorial work in Dachau. It was my first trip to a concentration camp memorial in the former GDR. The old exhibition was still on display, and the discussion about the Soviet Special Camp was making big waves at the time. I was overwhelmed by everything that was being negotiated when it came to Buchenwald. The debates here touched on Germany’s democratic conception of itself – this gradually became clear to me. Of course, different topics are being discussed today. And in the meantime, we have had to face the ‘NSU’ and watch as an extreme right-wing party was elected to the Bundestag. So it is now clear – and, as a member of the Academic Advisory Board, I take this as a mandate – that Germany’s democratic conception of itself is still very much the issue at stake.
Professor Christoph Stölzl
President of the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar
Buchenwald, then as now just a stone’s throw from the German cultural symbol of Weimar, is an essential reminder. It proves that evil does not enter the world randomly but instead takes root in the midst of civilized normality as soon as the first broken taboo is accepted with indifference. If it is true that indifference is the weak spot in our morality, then what we must tackle is the protracted form of indifference – namely, amnesia. The fight for remembrance is a fight for humanity.
Member of the German Bundestag
The monument on the Ettersberg calls out from afar to me and everyone who approaches the cultural city of Weimar: “Do not forget, remember, tell your children what happened here at ‘Buchenwald’ (in the concentration camp, in the Special Camp, and at Topf and Sons), the terrible and almost unimaginable things and how they could come about.” Beyond historical knowledge, beyond remembrance, what ‘Buchenwald’ means to me, above all, is an appeal to always scrutinize your responsibility for yourself and for society, and to always question your own attitudes. ‘Buchenwald’ sends a warning to the present and the future, a warning to society and every one of us – to clearly and decisively counter exclusion, racism, hate, and radicalism; to be vigilant, to resist the beginnings. At the same time, I see in ‘Buchenwald’ an appeal to young people in particular to be curious, open-minded and hungry for knowledge, and to view ‘otherness’ as an asset.
General Director of the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar
In the middle of the most far-reaching uncertainty confronting societies worldwide, we must use our historical experiences and the values and rules derived from them as a fundamental basis for maintaining our community. And in Weimar, this includes the Buchenwald complex above all.