From Colonialism to Nazi Ideology

Exhibition about the Building on Ihnestrasse 22 in Berlin-Dahlem

№ 334/2013 from Oct 31, 2013

An exhibition by students of Freie Universität Berlin dealing with the history of the building at Ihnestrasse 22 in Berlin-Dahlem and its relation to German colonialism will be officially opened on Monday, November 4, 2013, at 6 p.m. The building is currently in use by the Institute of Political Science of Freie Universität. Previously it was the seat of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics, from 1927 until the wartime relocation of the institute in 1943. The exhibition, entitled "Manufacturing Race: Contemporary Memories of a Building’s Colonial Past," is the result of a research project of a group of students at Freie Universität that evolved following a seminar on postcolonialism. The vernissage will include a panel discussion on the theme "Colonialism, Science, and Memory." The exhibition will be on display for twelve days. On November 14 there will be a screening of a film by students dealing with the history of the colony German South-West Africa under the emperor Kaiser Wilhelm.

The Kaiser Wilhelm Institute (KWI) for Anthropology, Human Heredity, and Eugenics was devoted to genetic research, but with its eugenic approach it also delivered a scientific legitimization of racist policies. The Kaiser Wilhelm Society for the Advancement of Science was the forerunner of the Max Planck Society, which was founded in 1948 as a new scientific organization. The building on Ihnestrasse 22 has been used by Freie Universität Berlin since the university was founded in 1948, and since 1959 it has been in use by the Institute of Political Science. A plaque at the entrance recalls the history of the construction of the building and the connection of scientists to the Nazi crimes. The exhibition continues the debate by addressing the role of science in relation to German colonialism.

For their research the scientists of the KWI kept a collection of skulls and bones, including those of murdered Africans from the colony of German South-West Africa under the emperor Kaiser Wilhelm, as the students of the Otto Suhr Institute found out. For the exhibition they attempted to make connections between Ihnestrasse 22 and German colonialism. The first part of the exhibition focuses on the KWI scientists and their research. The second part of the exhibition portrays how students and researchers currently working at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science deal with German colonial history and the history of the building.

Time and Place

  • Exhibition: Foyer of the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin, Ihnestrasse 21, 14195 Berlin
  • November 4 to 16, 2013, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Vernissage: Monday, November 4, 2013, 6 p.m.; panel discussion: 6 to 8 p.m. (Room 21/A)
  • Finissage: Thursday, November 14, 2013, Screening of the film by students dealing with the history of the colony of German South-West Africa and discussion, 6 to 8 p.m. (Room 21/A)

Online

www.manufacturingrace.wordpress.com

Further Information

Dr. Bilgin Ayata, Otto Suhr Institute, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-54160, Email: bilgin.ayata@fu-berlin.de