Educational project with historical documents. Photo: Claus Bach

Contents of our educational work

The visitor groups acquire knowledge of history from the historical sources through a process of learning-by-researching. These sources form the foundation of the memorial’s historical-political education work. They include the structural remains of the camp (for example the crematorium, the roll call square and the tunnels), archives (written documents, photographs, reports by survivors), objects found in the camp, historical film material, and the objects presented in the permanent exhibition as well as in temporary exhibitions.

The chief focuses of our teaching activities are the lives and deaths of the inmates along with their individual and unrepeatable biographies, as well as the reasons why people were deported to this concentration camp and the conditions under which they lived, suffered and died. Here the issues of self-preservation and resistance also play an important role. As is the case with the examination of the perpetrators and bystanders, the educational perspective is consistently action-oriented.

Preoccupation with the perpetrators and accomplices and, in general, the social surroundings of Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp form a further main emphasis of our educational work. Of decisive importance here are, above all, these people’s motives for action and scope for decision-making, but also the personal advantages to be gained from participating in the crime of National Socialism.

Opponents to National Socialism and persons who supported victims of persecution constitute a further topic of investigation. Their possible motives for defying the omnipresent ideology and pressure to conform and for accepting personal disadvantages or even risking their lives are likewise an important element of the mediation canon. The aim is to elucidate the interrelated factors underlying the events taking place in the concentration camp, and to explain structural processes, their causes and their consequences with the aid of examples.

The memorial education work does not aim to reproduce the former concentration camp setting or describe the barbaric procedures carried out here day after day. Rather, Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp is cited as an example of the consequences of legally established ideologies of inequality, social Darwinism and racism. Nor are the aims and contents of the memorial’s educational activities to provide the visitors with political or moral instruction, or to erect an imaginary “protection shield” against right-wing extremist, racist or anti-Semitic influences.