Practitioners in talk #Part 18
Many ways lead out of the BGHS. But where do postdoctoral paths lead? We talk to doctoral students who are already gaining professional experience outside the university during their time at the BGHS. Kerstin Schulte talked to us about her work experience at the Wewelsburg Memorial.
Photo 1: The Wewelsburg. The Wewelsburg 1933–1945 Memorial is located on its premises.
Kerstin, you are doing your doctorate in history and are working at the Wewelsburg. Where do you work exactly?
Kerstin Schulte: I work for the Wewelsburg Memorial. The place where I work is the administrative building on the former SS guard house, which is next to the Wewelsburg.
What does your work for the memorial look like?
Kerstin Schulte: I mainly do research on the Niederhagen concentration camp. There are sources in the memorial. But there are also sources in other archives such as the federal archives or the state archives of North Rhine-Westphalia. I collect these sources, systematize them and evaluate them, among other things, for exhibitions and scientific work on the Niederhagen concentration camp and with a view to the educational work at the memorial. When working with schoolchildren, for example, perpetrator biographies are used. I look through lists of supervisors and reconstruct who worked in which area of the camp and when. On the basis of de-nazification court files, I then also investigate how the perpetrators were dealt with after the end of the war. I also create a chronology for the prisoners: What happened where and when? How many prisoners were in the camp at what time? And what work did the prisoners have to do? So, I am expanding and structuring the stock of knowledge and material that the scientific and educational staff of the memorial can access in their work.
What are your most important tasks?
Kerstin Schulte: My most important tasks are: researching, evaluating, and excerpting sources on the Niederhagen concentration camp. You have to know: Sources are often collected in a memorial on a project basis. For a specific exhibition or publication, files on various topics and from various archives are compiled. I have been given the task of creating thematic and chronological registers for these sources in order to make them easier to access. Topics according to which I sort the registers are, for example: the SS personnel; the different areas of the concentration camp; the violence of the SS; the violence of the kapos against their fellow prisoners; or the different phases of the camp.
As a historian, what knowledge and skills do you use in your work?
Kerstin Schulte: On the one hand, there are research skills. If I had known at the beginning of my dissertation how the various archives are structured and how I can get the documents I need as effectively and as quickly as possible, I would have made faster progress with my dissertation. On the other hand, it is specialist knowledge that I have acquired and that I now need: I know the structures of the SS, the structures of concentration camps, and also the procedures that the British occupiers used when dealing with former National Socialists. I acquired this knowledge while working on my dissertation and thought: apart from the dissertation, I will never need this again. But, that is really great: I can now fall back on this knowledge.
Photo 2: The Wewelsburg. The Wewelsburg 1933–1945 Memorial is located on its premises.
What tips do you have for colleagues who are interested in a job like yours?
Kerstin Schulte: Even if it takes a lot of time, my advice would be to speak to people who work in this field at conferences and then get into conversation with one another. I would not have thought that either: If people find your lecture interesting, they will remember you for a long time.
Kerstin, thank you very much for the conversation!
The interview was conducted by Ulf Ortmann.
You can find the complete interview here: