The Struggle for the Memorial Place
Until the 80s, the history of the concentration camps in the Salzgitter area was mostly ignored and forgotten. The publication of the book Forced Labor at the Steel Works by Gerd Wysocki and a series of events on the subject of “Salzgitter during National Socialism” on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the city in 1982 got a public discussion going. In 1983 a group of committed citizens founded the Arbeitskreis Stadtgeschichte e.V.
With the support of the IG Metall (“Industrial Union of Metalworkers”) and the employee representative committee of the steel works, the Arbeitskreis endeavored to erect a memorial place in the historical rooms of the former KZ Drütte on the plant premises of the steel works Peine-Salzgitter. On April 11, 1985, the employee representative committee organized the first memorial service there, which has taken place annually since then on the former roll call ground.
The struggle for the erection of a memorial place ended in 1992 when an agreement was made between the board of management and the employee representative committee of the Peine-Salzgitter AG: The corporation made one of the four former accommodation rooms under the elevated road available to the memorial place. The organization and maintenance of the site, which is listed for preservation, was assigned to the Arbeitskreis Stadtgeschichte. After extensive work the Memorial and Documentation Place KZ Drütte was finally opened on April 11, 1994.
Expanding the Possibilities
Until 1999, the memorial place consisted only of the historical room which also holds the permanent exhibit in six steel cubes and is used for events. At the end of the 90s, new external plaques at Gate 1, on the elevated road overlooking the former roll call ground and in the pathway to the memorial place, pointed to the historical site from outside the site itself. In addition, the corporation made a storage room available.
In 2008, an unused bus-stop shelter at the elevated road overlooking the former roll call ground was extended and converted and now houses a model. It offers a good overview of the topography of the KZ satellite camp Drütte at the Reichswerke “Hermann-Göring.” In the same year, the conditions for intense educational work improved significantly when two seminar rooms, a storage room for documents and a tea-kitchen were added to the premises.
The expansion of the memorial place reflects the good cooperation between the sponsoring organization, the employee representative committee and the corporation. There are plans to revise the permanent exhibition, now almost in its 20th year, during the next years.