Colonial and racist thought and action in National Socialism – this (sub)title is the 2019 publication of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial in Hamburg. Aimed at multipliers in school and out-of-school educational work (from the age of 16), it deals with the interconnections between colonialism and National Socialism and the thoughts and actions that emerged from them. This way of thinking and acting, which resulted in suffering, oppression and murder for millions of people, is illuminated here in its preconditions, functions and consequences, starting with the German Empire.

These educational materials thus explicitly oppose the pernicious phenomenon of viewing colonialism and National Socialism separately from one another – whether in social discourses of remembrance or in educational work. The authors write about this:

“We want to relate both sets of issues with these materials. This approach is also obvious because the world was still a colonially structured world during the National Socialist rule from 1933 to 1945. When the National Socialists came to power in early 1933, Germany was a “postcolonial state in a still colonial world” (Klotz 2005). In other words, colonial patterns of thought continued to influence German self-perception, the perception of others, and state action after 1933, albeit in a partially altered form and with changed functions and consequences. This was the case even though – or precisely because – Germany had to cede its colonial possessions after its defeat in World War I.”

The educational materials, structured in 5 modules, focus on biographies of People of Color, that is, the “life stories of people who were classified by the National Socialists and large parts of the National Socialist “Volksgemeinschaft” as “colored” and thus “inferior” in a hierarchy shaped by colonial racist thinking.”

In addition to an introductory didactic commentary, each module consists of topic-specific work assignments, a thematic focus, and background texts and materials (see Fig. 1).

Abd. 1

More information about the project of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial on which the publication is based can be found here.

The 182-page publication itself can be ordered for a fee of 5.00€ plus. Shipping costs can be ordered here, a free download of the materials is possible here.

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