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registered, persecuted, annihilated: The Sick and the Disabled under National Socialism

Under the auspices of Federal President Joachim Gauck, the German Association for Psychiatry,  Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (DGPPN) is presenting a travelling exhibition with a focus on the sick and disabled victims of National Socialism. Since opening 2014 in the German Bundestag, the exhibition has welcomed over 290,000 visitors from Germany and abroad. The exhibition was developed in cooperation with the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the Topography of Terror Foundations.

The exhibition has been shown in different facilities such as state parliament buildings, memorial places, on congresses as well as hospitals. Most venues have included a supporting programme with academic presentations, film screenings, and guided tours, and have designed special panels presenting local victims, perpetrators or institutions.

* picture credits

Between 1933 and 1945, more than 400,000 people were forcibly sterilised and more than 200,000 were murdered. The guiding principle for the selection of patients was the person’s alleged “value”. Doctors, nursing staff and functionaries judged the people committed to their care on the basis of their “curability”, “learning ability” or “capacity to work”. The exclusion, persecution and extermination of peculiar, disturbing and ill people thereby took place within the institutional and hospital system.

The exhibition is specifically aimed at a wide audience. It uses the question of the value of life as a guiding principle and deals with the intellectual and institutional prerequisites for the murders, summarises the events of exclusion and forced sterilisations up to mass extermination, deals exemplarily with victims, perpetrators, involved persons and opponents, and finally inquires about the analysis of those events from 1945 until today. Exemplary biographies run throughout the entire exhibition. The many different actors involved in the crimes become tangible in the victims’ files and their views of patients are contrasted with the patients’ own statements.

The final section comprises numerous voices that look back on that period from modern times and ask themselves from different perspectives about the personal relevance of what happened: doctors, politicians, representatives of self-help associations, relatives of victims, nursing staff, health administration representatives and others.

The exhibition has already been displayed at a number of national institutions including state parliament buildings, memorial sites and hospitals and is fully booked until early 2018. Poster versions were shown in 2015 at the annual meetings of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in Toronto and the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology in Osaka (further information in the right-hand column). In the coming years, the exhibition will visit many more locations including Osthofen, Munich, Bochum, Bremen and Erfurt.

Opening of the exhibition in the German Bundestag

The exhibition was opened in the German Bundestag on 27th January 2014. In attendance were descendants of the victims and, as the first guests, Federal President Joachim Gauck, who is also patron of the exhibition, and Ulla Schmidt, Vice President of the German Bundestag.

Source: German Bundestag (Subtitle: Created on behalf of the DGPPN)
Video report from parliament television on the opening of the travelling exhibition in the German Bundestag

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Support through donations
The exhibition is being made possible by a fundraising campaign being conducted by numerous medical associations, in particular the German Medical Association. The DGPPN is adding a significant sum to the amount raised by the campaign. Further information about the donations appeal can be found at:
www.dgppn.de/spendenaufruf

Further information on the exhibition can be found at: www.dgppn.de/ausstellung

Organization and implementation
Contact person at the DGPPN: Prof. Dr. Dr. Frank Schneider, Aachen, fschneider[at]ukaachen.de

Curator of the exhibition: Petra Lutz, Berlin

Exhibition Design: Graphic Design: Friedrich Forssman, Kassel
Exhibition size: 80 display boards of at least 220 m² (2.400 sq.ft.), media stations, Poster version with 80 or 40 display boards

New: Roll-Up version with 40 displays