The memorial is housed in the historic premises of the former headquarters of the company Hugo-Schneider Aktiengesellschaft (HASAG) in the north east of Leipzig. During World War II, HASAG was the largest arms factory in Saxony and one of the main beneficiaries of forced labour in the National Socialist state. These days, the area serves as a science park, providing space among other things to the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research. The memorial is part of this science park and can be found in building 0.1.
Objectives and Responsibilities
Remembrance and Commemoration
The memorial commemorates the victims, the injustice and the history of the National Socialists’ use of forced labour in Leipzig and its consequences at an authentic site of forced labour. At the headquarters of the company HASAG, which was the largest arms factory of Saxony at the time, it serves as an example to remind us of the thousands of civilian forced labourers, prisoners of war and concentration camp inmates who had to perform work in the urban area during World War Two.
The memorial serves as contact and place to go for former forced labourers and their family members. It accepts inquiries from former forced labourers and sites of forced labour in the National Socialist state, processes them and provides information.
Documentation and Research
The memorial collects documents from former forced labourers and reproductions from other archives. The collection represents an important basis for the processing of inquiries and for the scientific documentation and research of forced labour in the National Socialist state in Leipzig. The memorial also undertakes investigations in other archives and assists school children, students and academics with their research.
Information and Education
The memorial provides information on site about the history of forced labour in the National Socialist state in Leipzig and at the HASAG with a permanent exhibition and with guided tours. By organising a regular events program consisting of guided neighbourhood walks, lectures, readings and film screenings in various locations throughout Leipzig, the memorial hopes to stimulate, promote and enhance the social discourse concerning the history of the city of Leipzig during the National Socialist era.
With its educational offerings, the memorial attempts to raise awareness among those interested in the injustice committed during the National Socialist regime, to promote a critical historical consciousness and to encourage the reflection with respect to the present and the debate of the current manifestations of racism, antisemitism, romanophobia and other misanthropic sentiments.
History of the Memorial
The Leipzig Forced Labour Memorial was inaugurated in 2001. It was the first establishment in Germany dedicated explicitly to the fate of the forced labourers during the National Socialist era.
Former forced labourers had already launched numerous initiatives for the construction of a memorial during the period of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). However, these efforts only intensified after 1990. The visit of a group of former forced labourers with the management board of the Environmental Research Centre ultimately initiated the establishment of a memorial at the authentic site. Against the backdrop of public discussions regarding the compensation of former forced labourers in the late 1990s, the sponsoring association – chaired by Ms Charlotte Zeitschel – with the support from the Environmental Research Centre, the Buchenwald Memorial as well as many committed individuals, succeeded in advancing the creation of a memorial.
In May of 2000, the City of Leipzig admitted its historic responsibility in a Council Resolution and adopted a visitation program for former forced labourers. Apart from the scientific exploration, it proposed the establishment of a memorial, which was solemnly inaugurated on 12 December 2001 in the presence of former forced labourers.