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Reports about Practical Projects #2
"Reports about Practical Projects" are written by doctoral students who have designed and carried out a practical project in cooperation with a non-university organization. The BGHS has been supporting these projects with scholarships since 2020. In the second part of the series, Daniele Toro reports on his exhibition project on Forced labour under German rule during World War II in southern Westphalia.
Forced labour under German rule during World War II in southern Westphalia (1939–1945)
In my practical project, I have begun to organize a small-format traveling exhibition that contributes to the regional confrontation with the complex of topics of forced labor under the national socialist rule.The background of my project is that the scientific reappraisal of mass shootings of Soviet and Polish forced laborers in March 1945, which was started in spring 2019 by the Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe in the Warstein-Meschede area, and especially the archaeological findings about it, generated a broad public resonance in the local society of southern Westphalia. It became clear that Nazi forced labor as a historical topic met with lively interest. This attention can be traced back to the fact that the region was only peripherally involved in the historiographical reappraisal, which in the 2000s pushed ahead with a detailed investigation and clarification of the so-called "use of foreigners" under National Socialism. There is still a public need in the region for a historically informed reappraisal.
Image 1: The analysis and digitization of archival records in the reading room of the city archive of Iserlohn (Photo: Daniele Toro, 2020).
I completed the research of the scientific basis and the location of the archive materials in the spring during a stay at the Institute for Social Movements and the Library of the Ruhr Area in Bochum. Now that the practical project is over, I am summarizing the results of my archival research in an essay. These results also form the basis for exploratory talks and networking with other institutional actors on the ground who are interested in creating the exhibition. In the hope that 2021 will bring continued improvement and more concrete prospects, the exhibition project and applications for third-party funding are now in the starting point.