On April 1, 1982 the city of Salzgitter celebrated its 40th anniversary. For the first time, a public discussion on the subject of “Salzgitter during National Socialism” was taking place. A series of events on the subject initiated a controversial discussion. Motivated by the events, but also indignant at the ignorance of some citizens, a group of interested people founded the Arbeitskreis Stadtgeschichte (Working Group “History of the City”) with the aim of enlightening and educating politically about the city’s National Socialist history. At the same time, the Group called for the establishment of a memorial place in the historical rooms of the former KZ Drütte on the factory premises.
A first motion formulated by the employee representative council and the representative of the younger personnel of the steel works Peine-Salzgitter and the Arbeitskreis was rejected by the executive board of the corporation. These unsuccessful efforts set a lengthy struggle for the erection of a memorial place in motion which lasted for ten years. During that time the Arbeitskreis did extensive research on the local history of Salzgitter and documented it. The Arbeitskreis organized historically and politically educational events and thus established itself in the social life of the city and beyond. Former KZ prisoners and forced workers and their relatives had a contact for their inquiries from the outset and they supported the goals of the Arbeitskreis.
Political changes such as the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany, but also the change in the ways in which society dealt with the National Socialist past had an impact on the activities of the Arbeitskreis. Apart from the ongoing struggle to set up a memorial place on the historical site, new ideas and projects gained importance. One central project was “Contemporary witnesses of National Socialism.” Survivors of the concentration camps in Salzgitter were found all around the world and their memories were recorded and analyzed. This extensive scientific research was mainly conducted by a historian employed at the Arbeitskreis on a full-time basis.
The results of ten years of research, documentation and negotiations by the Arbeitskreis Stadtgeschichte e.V. formed a good basis to prepare an exhibition at the memorial place whose maintenance, organization and management was assigned to the Arbeitskreis Stadtgeschichte e.V. in 1992.
In the past 30 years the Arbeitskreis Stadtgeschichte e.V. has become an authority concerning the history of Salzgitter and beyond. Apart from a wide range of educational events and activities, the primary goal and an essential part of the work of the Arbeitskreis is to establish and maintain contacts with former KZ prisoners, forced workers and displaced persons and their relatives.