Opening of the special exhibition "Flight"

Exhibition opening, Monday 11th of April, 12.15 pm , Firestation, Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial

Introduction PD Dr. Karsten Uhl, Head of the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp Memorial

The subject of the escape of prisoners from the camps of the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp complex shows that the German population was directly confronted with the Nazi mass crimes during the war. The exhibition uses case histories to present the refugees and their situation in a hostile environment. The perspective of the prisoners is inseparably linked to the various aspects of the perpetrator society: How did the German population behave in relation to refugees? What options for action (and what constraints) were there? How did the Nazi system of repression work first when attempting to prevent escape from the concentration camp and then when chasing escaped prisoners?

The exhibition is divided into three themes:

The Nazi system of repression: The escape from civilian forced labor was the reason for some prisoners being sent to the concentration camp by the Gestapo. In the concentration camp, an intensified repressive apparatus ensured that escape was difficult and dangerous. Identification through prisoner uniforms and public searches made further escape almost hopeless in the event of an escape from the concentration camp. If they were caught again, the fugitives were threatened with torture, harassment and murder in a concentration camp.

The prisoners: Secondly, the escaped prisoners themselves are examined: In which camps and in which situations was an escape promising? What was the motivation for taking on the mortal danger of flight? How could an escape outside the concentration camp continue successfully? And what happened to those who were caught? - At the same time, the focus is on the prisoners who did not escape. How did prisoners report on their considerations of avoiding the risk of escaping and developing strategies for surviving within the camp?

The National Socialist Community: Thirdly, the German population and their behavior in the range between preventing escape and helping those who have fled are presented. What was the connection between this freedom of behavior and the Nazi-controlled public, especially reporting in newspapers? Aimé Bonifas, who survived the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp, summed up the situation of escaped prisoners as early as 1946 in a memorial report published in French, which was also published in German in 1979: “Despite the numerous posts, it is still relatively easy to get through the barbed wire . But where do you go in striped robs, in this lost land, with no language, penny, practically no shoes to wear, and no food?”