A complex relationship: Weimar and Buchenwald

Since its establishment in 1937, Buchenwald has been a district within the city of Weimar; a mere eight kilometres lie between Buchenwald’s roll call square and the German National Theatre. Thanks to careful research, we today have a more thorough understanding of how "culture" and "barbarism" could coexist in such a manner.

To protect "German culture", the National Socialist regime ruthlessly persecuted anyone who did not conform to its world view. In this sense, systematic mass murder and the high art of the theatre were not contradictions but rather aspects of a larger agenda. Even before 1933, art and culture in Weimar was subject to the pressures of National Socialist ideology. Later, intellectuals from across Europe who were imprisoned in Buchenwald struggled, via artistic and cultural expression, to maintain a sense of self – even, at times, making explicit reference to Weimar Classicism.

Today, the complex relationship between Weimar and Buchenwald, in its local, national and European dimensions, is an important element in historical and political programmes devised by the Memorial in cooperation with educational institutions in the city of Weimar. The history of the Nazi dictatorship, Weimar Classicism, the Bauhaus movement, the Weimar Republic, and the history of East Germany all offer important insights for addressing the phenomenon of Buchenwald.

Our memorial staff can provide assistance in selecting among the many topics and approaches relevant to these issues.