The “Workshop on the History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Extermination Sites” was established in 1994 in Hamburg. In the beginning it was called “Workshop zur Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager”. It was founded as a informal platform to discuss research projects on the National Socialist Concentration Camps within the context of the two re-unified German states in which different and often opposing memories on the National Socialist Regime existed.
The workshop was thus created in the context of the construction of memorial sites at former concentration camps. Since 1998 the memory of the National Socialist concentration camps after 1945 has been assessed in the annual workshop. This thematic contribution becomes evident in the later change of the title adding the term “memory”: “Workshop on History and Memory of National Socialist Concentration Camps”. Eventually all the workshops have included this dimension in the program of lectures and excursions.
Besides expanding the temporal reference, the workshop has become more international, as National Socialist concentration camps were installed throughout Europe in all occupied territories. In 2003 the workshop took place in Ebensee, Austria, in 2005 in Lublin, Poland, in 2010 in Auschwitz, Poland, and in 2015 in Belarus, Minsk.This turn was realized in the workshop’s venue, as well as in its topics, like in 2006 when it was held in Saarbrücken, Germany, dealing with the camps in Germany, the Netherlands and France. Furthermore, the workshop’s group of participants is constituted internationally with participants coming from European countries, Israel and the USA. English therefore became the workshop’s official language in order to enable the participation of foreign graduates.
Broadening the workshop thematically and regionally required another change in the workshop’s title to make the workshop’s thematic focus semantically more evident: Since this year (2015) the workshop is called “The Workshop on History and Memory of National Socialist Camps and Extermination Sites”. The workshop is no longer reduced to National Socialist concentration camps only, but also open for research projects related to all kinds of National Socialist camps like internment camps, extermination camps, ghettos, labor education camps, labor camps etc. that varied in their form and function over the time, as well as other mass extermination sites, which were particularly common in the occupied territories in the East of Europe. Focusing on these complex phenomena of different kinds of camps and mass extermination sites had already been practiced in the previous workshops and clearly shown fruitful discussions on marginalized research topics, so that the change in the title was long overdue.
Find an overview of previous workshops here.
For an article in German on the history and development of the (early) Workshops, see:
Heß, Christiane / Wilke, Karsten: Rückblicke – Einblicke – Ausblicke. 15 Jahre “Workshop
zur Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Konzentrationslager”, in: Kontinuitäten und Brüche. Neue Perspektiven auf die Geschichte der NS-Konzentrationslager, hrsg. v. Christine Heß; Julia Hörath; Dominique Schröder und Kim Wünschmann, Berlin 2011, S. 27-44.