The Secret State Police (Gestapo) constituted one of the Nazi’s most important instruments of terror. The Osnabrück Gestapo monitored the population in the region. In World War II the Gestapo primarily persecuted foreigners who had been deported to Germany for forced labor who had either evaded compulsory work or defied racist discriminatory measures against them. The exhibition describes the actions taken by the Gestapo against forced laborers. Visitors have the opportunity to research the people whom the Gestapo persecuted. It shows the power of the Gestapo and the people who exercised this power. The perpetrators got off with light sentences after the war. The victims, on the other hand, received little acknowledgment of their suffering and were overlooked for a long time.
In the Gestapokeller Memorial, touch screens containing in-depth content are available to visitors. For the exhibition, research was conducted on many of the mostly unknown Gestapo employees.. The findings are presented in short biographical texts in a media station. A Gestapo informer betrayed two Frenchmen, Raymond Vinclair and Louis Bertin, who performed forced labor for the Reichsbahn in Osnabrück and helped more than 100 prisoners of war to escape. Jean-Marie Vinclair researched the story of his great uncle, who was executed. He made two films about him for the exhibition that explore his life and the memory process that his family went through.
Wall of Names and Research Station
In the Gestapokeller Memorial, the names of everyone who was observed or persecuted by the Osnabrück Gestapo from 1933 to 1945 are presented in chronological order on a large monitor. At two monitor stations, visitors can conduct searches on people registered in the Gestapo’s card index and look up statistical data.
The data from the card index of the Osnabrück Gestapo was made available to the exhibition through a cooperation with the Lower Saxony State Archive - Osnabrück Division and the historian, Prof. Christoph Rass from the University of Osnabrück. Prof. Rass is currently leading the research project “Surveillance. Power. Order: Personal and Case Files as an Instrument of Gestapo Power” with Dr Sebastian Bondzio. As part of this project, the data contained in the Osnabrück file is the first Gestapo card index to be stored and processed in its entirety in a database.
Osnabrück and Hasbergen are the only places where historical buildings from a Gestapo headquarters and its labor education camp are preserved and presented to the public as memorials.
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