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Detail view

Bremen Youth Welfare in Dark Years

The State and University Library (SuUB) is now showing an exhibition on youth welfare and educational homes in Bremen from 1933 to 1945. The title of the traveling exhibition is taken from the quote “Denn bin ich unter das Jugendamt gekommen” (Because I was put in the care of youth welfare).

The everyday life of young people from Bremen in youth welfare institutions during the National Socialist era is reconstructed with the help of documents, pictures, and audio exhibits. The presentation shows for the first time how “sifting and sieving” worked in a more and more radical Bremen welfare education system. Bremen cultural anthropologist Gerda Engelbracht developed the exhibition concept on behalf of the Diakonisches Werk.

Educational institutions and concentration camps

How were children and adolescents treated who were accommodated in evangelical children’s and youth welfare homes between 1933 and 1945? What did they experience there and what role did the directors of the homes, psychiatrists, and administrators play? What effects did the “Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases” and the transfer to educational institutions and youth concentration camps outside Bremen have? The exhibition explores these questions.

Deadly consequences of segregation

It documents the experiences of young people in homes such as Ellener Hof, Marthasheim in Neustadt, and also in institutions outside Bremen such as Betheler Zweiganstalt in Freistatt and Diakonissenanstalt in Kaiserswerth. The biographies of adolescent girls and boys make the dramatic and sometimes fatal consequences of their exclusion from the “Volksgemeinschaft” (community) tangible: forced sterilization, deportation to youth concentration camps, and facilities for euthanasia.

Exhibition ends on 28 May

Maria Elisabeth Müller, Director of SuUB Bremen, will welcome the guests at the opening on Thursday, April 4, 2019, at 5 p.m. in the foyer of the Bremen State and University Library. Regina Bukowski from the Diakonisches Werk Bremen e.V. will give an introduction. The exhibition will be on display in the foyer of the SuUB until Tuesday, May 28, 2019.


Anke Winsmann
Public Relations Officer at the Bremen State and University Library
Tel.: +49 421 218-59400       


Young girls sitting
Excerpt from the poster for the exhibition.