Stiftung Brandenburgische Gedenkstätten Gedenkstätte und Museum Sachsenhausen

Research projects

Material – Relationship – Gender. Artefacts from Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camps

Project description

The increasing relevance of vísual and material evidence for writing the history of the Nazi concentration camps and their future importance in the work of historical political education are the starting points for this research project. More than 900 artefacts, including cigarette ends, miniatures made from the shafts of toothbrushes, illustrated address books and notebooks and embroidered scarves, are recorded in the storage depots of the Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen Memorials.

Within the scope of the project Material – Relationship – Gender. Artefacts from Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen these objects are to be studied systematically and comparatively. The way these artefacts were made, their significance, their social and cultural functions and their subsequent uses and their histories within the collections will be studied. The focus will be on agency, in the sense of social action under conditions of violence and coercion, taking into account the multiply relational category of gender.

Sub-projects will look at the artefacts firstly from the point of view of their motifs and iconography and the biographies of their creators and collectors, and, secondly, the social relationships and networks in the camps connected with the artefacts will be analysed and, thirdly, focusing on the character of the materials used and their provenance and the techniques used for making them. In addition, conservational concepts for various different groups of materials will be developed in teaching projects.

By interlinking research perspectives from cultural studies and the history of materials and techniques as well as conservation, this joint project, a co-operative venture between the Brandenburg Memorials Foundation and the University of Applied Science for Engineering and Economics (Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft) will look at the many layers of meaning of the material objects from the concentration camps, thus contributing to the interdisciplinary research debate about eye-witness testimony and material evidence from victims of Nazi persecution. The outcome of the project will be two monographs, an interdisciplinary workshop and an international conference, as well as an online database and the working up of a concept for presenting the objects and work findings in an exhibition.