History workshop

History workshop

History workshop „Rückblende“ (Reflecting on the Past)

Permanent exhibition:
„German-Jewish life in our region throughout the centuries
– a unique exhibition

Where ?
Germany, 34471 Volkmarsen, Steinweg 24

Opening Hours: every 1 st Sunday of  the month, 14:00 – 16:30

Dear visitors !
For us, our exhibition is not a museum in the usual sense, rather it is a place of learning for everybody, young and old. Our aim is to make knowledge available and to make people think.

The intention of our exhibition ist to provide an overview oft he range of German-Jewish life in our region.

There is a huge amount of information available covering a range of periods and events that it is not possible to take it all in during a single visit.

For this reason we recommend that our visitors experience our exhibition on a number of occasions, concentrating on a single topic per visit

The information on each exhibit is generally presented in three levels of detail: The outermost text presents a summary about the subject, for example, an historic event or person. Inside you will find two panels containing detailed text, documents, explanations and so forth.

Our goals

The goal of our history workshop is to plug the gaps of our regional history and to make it impossible to suppress, falsify or deny the substantive events from the past.

It is our intention that this view of the past (“Rückblende”) will generate a greater awareness of current problems and will lead us to a future where mutual respect is natural for every one of us.

Our exhibition mainly deals with life and death of the common people who receive no mention in the history books, of people who once had been neighbours  of our parents and grandparents but who were later (almost) forgotten.

We have tried to return the names and identities to the woman, men, and children who were displaced and murdered and who do not have a grave anywhere.

We are greatly indebted to the former Jewish inhabitants, now scattered across the world, who were able to save their lives by escaping from Nazi-Germany and who later became our friends.

It was only their willingness to tell us the story of their lives and families, and to give us valuable photographs and documents that enabled us to create our exhibition.


Exhibition Layout

Room 1:

  • Survey of the former communities in the villages and towns of the region

12.05.2010: Dr. h.c. Joachim  Gauck ( President of the Federal Republic of Germany) in conversation with Ernst Klein

Room 2:

  • Chronological table of Jewish history
  • The first communities on the river Rhine
  • Chronological table of the Jewish community in Volkmarsen
  • Residential and business buildings
  • Synagogue,school
  • Depiction of the Jewish holidays
  • Sacred items, memorabilia

Room 3: November 1938
The events in November 1938 were a temporary – for all Germans obviously terrible – peak of the development towards millionfold murder and a criminal war which brought disaster to everything and everybody.

In these sinister days of our history, German society morally bankrupted itself because it did not put an end to the unlawfulness and the racist demon.

The days and nights of November 1938 put the final seal of responsibility for the society of that time for the mass murder, ruins, rubble and ashes in Europe.

There was not only destruction of property, but also devastation and destruction in peoples`hearts and which to the present day have not been completely erased.

Thus this exhibition is also meant to be an impulse for all of us to work on the extant problems of prejudice, discrimination, and violence, on the basic questions of how humans treat one-another, on the questions of human dignity, equality and mutual respect.

Reconstruction of the devastated room of the Lichtenstein family based on the description in a letter from Ilse Meyer Lichtenstein on 10. January 1939.

Room 4:

  • “Survival in city and rural areas”
  • Letter of safe-conduct ( profession/commerce trade)
  • Civil rights – emancipation
  • Changing of family names
  • Home owner, civil guard
    “The absolutely normal common ground” neighbours,  sport friends, classmates, rifleman, war-time comrades
  • “Hachschara”-training camp at Volkmarsen – Külte
  • Incitement of the people by NS-leadership “der Stürmer”
  • Boycots / expropriation / plunder – forced change of the first names to “Sara” and “Israel”

Room 5:
Concerning the life of the families Bernstein and Hüneberg
Memories of Otto Bernstein: Volkmarsen – Moscow – Sibiria – Berlin – Theresienstadt – Australia

Room 6:

  • Memories / Biographies
  • Informants and Profiteers
  • Brave people during the NS-period
  • The lives and deaths of the Lichtenstein family
  • Jewish cemeteries
  • Escape / Emigration
  • Beginning anew at Shavei  Zion /Alsberg family
  • Odyssey of the refugee ship “St. Louis” (Walter Hüneberg)

  • Memories of Jewish children

Room 7:

  • Persecution-discrimination-deportation

  • Murder in extermination camps
  • “Denazification”,denazification court proceedings, “compensation”
  • “A new bridge is being built”

  • Encounters, visits, excerpts of the letters of Jewish guests

The terrible crimes during the national-socialistic rule have caused wide rifts between Jewish and non-Jewish people in Germany.
We cannot close these rifts and we should not do so, because the victims, as well as the crimes, should not be forgotten.
However we have to continue to build bridges to overcome the rifts of the past.
Many bridges, lead us on our way to greater knowledge and understanding of each other, on our way towards mutual respect and finally on our way to reconciliation and towards friendly cooperation.