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On 9 October 2020, the German Bundestag decided to begin planning a new centre in Berlin, which will document the history of German occupation in Europe during the Second World War, communicate knowledge of historical events, and provide room for remembering the victims. 75 years after the war, parliament has taken up numerous initiatives from civil society, academia and politics to honour the experiences that can still be felt today in the European countries occupied by Germany during the war. With this resolution the Federal Government was mandated to prepare a proposal for the realisation of a new documentation centre.

On 4 January 2021, Professor Monika Grütters, Minister of State for Culture and Media, entrusted the Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM) with the preparation of the proposal. The project group, working directly with the President of the DHM, Professor Raphael Gross, is responsible for the project.

In addition, two expert working groups have been formed. They regularly contribute to the preparation of the proposal. The working group Scholarship brings together outstanding historians from different countries who contribute their extensive expertise in the areas of National Socialism, the Second World War, Holocaust and the German occupation to the project. In the working group Remembrance and Commemoration, noted directors of existing memorial sites in Germany bring their experience to the process.

Proposal for the realisation of the Documentation Centre

The project group will make extensive suggestions for establishing the new documentation centre “German Occupation of Europe in the Second World War” (ZWBE). They will make structural recommendations in particular concerning:

  • legal form, sponsorship and committees,
  • requirements of the new centre for space and personnel.

Equally important are the basic concepts for:

  • a permanent exhibition and temporary exhibitions,
  • educational work of the new centre,
  • international and societal dialogue,
  • a dignified commemoration of the victims, and opportunities for a dialogue with survivors and their descendants.

The DHM will submit its proposals for the realisation of the documentation centre to the Minister of State for Culture and Media at the end of 2021. In the course of 2022, the German Bundestag will discuss the proposals and take a new decision. Only then can the realisation begin, which will take several years to complete.

Project group

The project group’s office within the presidium of the DHM took up its work at the beginning of May 2021. It is headed by Dr Raphael Utz; Martin Borkowski-Saruhan is research associate. Both have extensive expertise in the relevant fields. The different departments of the DHM will also support the office with their many years of experience.

Projects of the DHM in connection with the work of the office

In connection with the work on the realisation proposal, the DHM invites the public to engage with the history of German rule in occupied Europe during the Second World War. In the DHM event series “Historical Judgement”, the upcoming symposium in spring 2022 will take up this topic. In its cover story, the fourth edition of the magazine “Historical Judgement” will document the different contributions to the symposium.

Contact and information

Head of Project Group for the documentation centre “German Occupation of Europe in the Second World War” (ZWBE))

Dr. Raphael Utz

Tel +49 30 20304-109

Project Group for the documentation centre “German Occupation of Europe in the Second World War” (ZWBE), Research Associate

Martin Borkowski-Saruhan

Tel +49 30 20304-107