Preliminary assessment: A successful Theme Year
The reasons for this year of commemoration, of remembrance, of warning and of active discussion are two historic events: the 80th anniversary of the Nazis' assumption of power on 30 January 1933 and the 75th anniversary of the November pogroms of 1938. The Theme Year DIVERSITY DESTROYED. BERLIN 1933-1938 thus began on 30 January 2013. A joint effort that united over 170 partners, the project combined a variety of approaches to span the chasm between the diversity destroyed by the Nazi regime to Berlin's newfound diversity as an international centre for artists, creative people and scientists from around the world. Project partners included museums, clubs, associations, foundations, galleries, artists, theatres, archives, district governments as well as historical, documentation and memorial sites and private initiatives in Berlin.
Alongside the events staged by the project partners, the Theme Year also highlighted the biographies of Berliners who shaped the cultural, economic and scientific life of Berlin in the 1920s and 1930 and were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis. One objective of the Theme Year was to remember these individuals and return them to their rightful place at the heart of Berlin city life. With the pillars of the portrait exhibition in Berlin's Lustgarten with 222 short portraits, the 11 city markers – groups of pillars at historical sites in Berlin – and the numerous project partner pillars, the biographical approach runs through the Theme Year like a thread connecting the various activities. It also generated interest among broad and new swathes of the public for the nearly 1,000 events put on by the project partners. The event formats range from exhibitions, discussion round tables and lectures to publications, film projects, city tours and walks as well as temporary art projects, multimedia collages, apps and theatre productions and will be staged through 31 December.
Since 31 January and through 10 November, the main hub for the Theme Year has been the portal exhibition for the Theme Year at the Deutsche Historische Museum, which has had more than 120,000 visitors from Germany and abroad so far. Interest in guided tours of the exhibition has been equally great. There have been over 425 public tours in German and English.
A visitor survey showed that the portal exhibition at the Deutsche Historische Museum as well as the portrait exhibition in the Lustgarten appealed to guests of every age, men and women, tourists and locals in equal measure. The interest of foreign visitors has also been substantial; during a twoweek survey period, interviews were conducted with visitors from 41 different countries. The project has also focused public attention on some historical sites for the first time, such as the Nazi history of Schwanenwerder island, the former labour and correctional facility in Rummelsburg, the forced labour camp in Kaulsdorf, the torture chamber in Papestraße and the Köpenicker Blutwoche Memorial Site.
Information and continuity
The Theme Year “Diversity Destroyed” started in January 2013 with roughly 120 projects partners, and quickly grew to include over 170. All were actively involved in the communication effort. Every partner received a presentation of its project on the internet and published its events there as well as in the Theme Year programmes. A series of project partner postcards were developed that were distributed at countless locations in Berlin, from the city library to the Berlin Tourist Info office at the Brandenburg Gate.
The internet was and remains the central medium for Theme Year communications. From the more than 1,300 pages of information, many of which are also available in English, content of a more permanent character will remain accessible at www.berlin.de. Among the content to be retained online is historical background data gathered in the course of research as well as the now over 360 biographies, which can be expanded in the future. This also applies to the Stolperstein portal, which first went online during the Theme Year. Through September 2013 there were some 360,000 visits to the website – an average of 40,000 per month.
During the Theme Year, a number of eventrelated publications were released including the books mentioned above. The theme year also brought out its own book titled “Zerstörte Vielfalt. Berlin 1933–1938–1945. Eine Stadt erinnert sich” (“Diversity Destroyed. Berlin 1933–1938–1945. A City Remembers.), which has a biographical focus. Journalists in the city receive current information on an almost daily basis. Posters and other forms of communication in central areas of the city directed attention to the Theme Year at different times throughout the year and tied the activities together with a high recognition value. Special thanks go to WALL AG for their support.
The Berlin Theme Year 2013 is an initiative of the State of Berlin coordinated by the staterun organisation Kulturprojekte Berlin. This year of commemoration, admonition, remembrance and active discussion is supported by funds from the Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin and the Capital Cultural Fund. It is also conducted in cooperation with other partners and sponsors.