Building M.B. 89 on the site of today's Lower Saxony barracks
View of the exhibition. Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation
View of the exhibition. Lower Saxony Memorials Foundation
Topping-out ceremony at Belsen military camp, December 1935. Hinrich Baumann collection
Postcard with the main guard of the Belsen military camp, 1936. Collection Hinrich Baumann
View over the Bergen-Belsen DP camp, undated. The Wiener Library, London

Exhibition Armament, War and Crimes. The Wehrmacht and the Bergen-Hohne barracks

 

An exhibition by the Bergen-Belsen Memorial in cooperation with the Leibniz University of Hanover at the "Learning Center M.B. 89" in the Lower Saxony barracks (Bergen-Hohne).

The history of the military training area and the Bergen-Hohne barracks is inextricably linked with that of the POW camps at the training area and the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. The military training area was established in 1935 as part of the rearmament and war policy of the Nazi regime. Here the Wehrmacht practiced the war of aggression, which from 1939 onwards millions of people fell victim to other than combat operations - including tens of thousands of prisoners of war housed in camps at the training site and more than 52,000 prisoners from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

The traces of the crimes around today's Lower Saxony barracks are unmistakable. The mass graves with tens of thousands of dead, which were laid in April and May 1945, are located in the Bergen-Belsen memorial. The dead from the Bergen-Belsen prisoner-of-war camp were buried in the nearby Hörsten prisoner-of-war cemetery, and with the so-called tent theater cemetery and the small cemetery there are two concentration camp cemeteries within the barracks area.

Many buildings in the Lower Saxony barracks, which were used as a Displaced Persons Camp from 1945 to 1950, also bear witness to the new beginning of Jewish life after 1945. The former officers' mess of the Wehrmacht, later called the Roundhouse, was, like the former troop cinema, an important meeting place for the Survivors self-governing committees. Cultural events also took place here at the time of the Displaced Persons Camp.

Our new exhibition, which opened in the M.B. 89 building in April 2019, is dedicated to the history of the historic site in particular, as well as the history of the Wehrmacht and its crimes in general. This building, which was erected in the 1930s, has largely been preserved in its original form and housed prisoners from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in the last days before the liberation. It was later used as accommodation for Polish displaced persons and, from 1946, for Jewish displaced persons.

The exhibition makes it clear that war and crime were planned from the beginning of the Nazi regime. It clearly shows that the Wehrmacht was a mainstay of the Nazi dictatorship. It is also devoted to the questions of the freedom of action soldiers had and how German society and the Bundeswehr dealt with the difficult legacy of the Wehrmacht after 1945.

The "Learning Center M.B. 89" has been openly accessible since the beginning of August 2020 via its own barracks access. Parking is available there. Opening times: Thursday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Directions (PDF)

An accompanying volume is available for the exhibition in German and English.