The point of departure for learning about history is the authentic location – the remains of the camp. These remains provide the material evidence that links present and past. The remains are enhanced by first-hand reports, original documents, objects from the collection and other illustrative material. As direct testimonies, they stimulate our power to imagine the past, and they invite questions. Rather than sermonizing, they encourage learning through research. The power to imagine historical events is the basis for empathy and the true comprehension of history.
Young people who visit the memorial today no longer have the opportunity to remember these events directly. For this reason, access to information is critical in order to encourage remembrance and commemoration. However, access to this information is not an end in and of itself. Rather, such understanding serves the purpose of helping us to learn what we must not do, both on the basis of specific historical example, and in order to maintain the spirit of indivisible human dignity and human rights. Further, this understanding helps to shed light on the political, legal, social and cultural conditions under which individuals become perpetrators. Finally, understanding preserves for all time the experience of those who suffered persecution, including members of the resistance. In the end, it is this knowledge and understanding that equips participants to take action.
The past is critically examined with the aim of raising an awareness of dangers that pose a threat to democratic, human-rights-based culture both now and in the future. The past experiences and present observations of young people are, therefore, another starting point in the learning processes. Memorial education work does not dictate how history is to be understood. Rather, it sensitizes participants, encourages a reflective historical consciousness, and promotes independent historical and ethical judgment.
The memorial education work promotes dialogue and is itself dialogically structured. The rupture in civilization brought about by National Socialism is countered by fundamental human solidarity. For this reason, intercultural and transnational encounters and discussions stand as core elements of the memorial’s educational efforts.