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Call for the foundation of an association of the descendants of socio-racist persecutees

24. November 2022

Frank Nonnenmacher

A Nazi victims' group that never organised itself:

Call for the founding of an association of descendants of social-racist persecutees


For the Nazis, Ines Eichmüller's grandfather was an "asocial". Because of his non-conformist lifestyle, he was sent to Dachau concentration camp without any legal proceedings. My uncle Ernst, who was often an unemployed migrant worker and had committed a criminal offence, was caught by the CID after serving his last prison sentence in full and taken to Flossenbürg concentration camp. He narrowly survived a punishment squad in the concentration camp's quarry. For the Nazis he was a typical case of a "professional criminal". They had the crazy idea that people who had repeatedly committed crimes had "criminal genes", which is why - after serving their last sentence in full - they were locked away indefinitely in the concentration camps, humiliated, tortured and murdered in order to establish a crime-free society. Ernst only barely survived the punishment squad in the concentration camp quarry (cf. F. Nonnenmacher, DU hattest es besser als ICH).

In our opinion, the terms "professional criminals" and "asocials", which are still used today, must be rejected. They deny the dignity of those affected - even if they are put in inverted commas. We advocate speaking of "socio-racist persecutees" in the future.

Almost all victims' groups founded associations after 1945 and fought for their recognition - some were only successful with this at a shamefully late stage, e.g. the repeal of §175 did not take place until 1994.


In 2018, together with younger academics (Julia Hörath, Sylvia Köchl, Andreas Kranebitter and Dagmar Lieske), I made a public appeal to the Bundestag to finally officially recognise the socially racist victims of the Nazi system as such. The appeal received broad support and on 13 February 2020, the Bundestag unanimously decided to recognise those persecuted by the Nazis as "asocials" or "professional criminals"."

That is a good thing and an important step forward in the culture of remembrance. It is also good that the resolution mentions the consequences to be drawn, e.g. by calling for the creation of an ambitious touring exhibition on the fates of those persecuted on the basis of social racism. This is now in progress and is also a good thing.

What is bad, however, is that the recognition comes so late that no one can enjoy the possible compensation. Cynically, one could say that the Federal Republic has saved itself a lot of money by waiting so long.

It is also bad that the funds demanded in the Bundestag resolution for research into the biographies of this group of persecutees, which has not been done for decades, have not yet been made available. There is also still no budget for the requested specific research into the role of the persecution authorities. And years have already passed.


Ines Eichmüller and I, as well as other descendants of those socially and racially persecuted by the Nazis, are of the opinion that it can no longer depend on the commitment of individuals whether the victim group of the socially and racially persecuted becomes an integral part of our culture of remembrance. An association of descendants, which we want to found in January 2023, can not only play an important role in each family's own historical reappraisal, it can also have an external effect, e.g. as a critic of half-heartedly implemented resolutions of the Bundestag, as a voice that should not play a leading role in national remembrance but should nevertheless be present, as an approachable institution in historical-political education and as a cooperation partner for other associations of persecutees.

Unfortunately, there is no list of names of the relatives and descendants of the socially racist persecutees anywhere. Therefore, we depend on people who are interested in founding such an association to contact us at fnoma@gmx.de. We will inform those interested about the details and then inform the public about the foundation.

 

About Frank Nonnenmacher:

-He is professor emeritus of political education at the Goethe University in Frankfurt.
-Author of the biography of a man (his uncle) whom the Nazis wanted to "destroy through work" as a "professional criminal" in a concentration camp (title: "Du hattest es besser als Ich")
-Initiator of the successful appeal to the German Bundestag for recognition of the ignored Nazi victims (see: change.org/vergessene-opfer)
-was invited several times as an expert in the cultural policy committee of the German Bundestag
-together with Ines Eichmüller (Nuremberg/Fürth) will found an "Association of the Relatives of the Ignored Victims of National Socialism" on 21/22 January 2023.

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