Soon there will be no-one left alive who witnessed the brutality of the Nazi regime first-hand. What remains are memories in the form of books, historical film documentaries, exhibitions, educational projects, and most recently, virtual encounters with survivors of the Holocaust. These kinds of testimony will gradually replace that of living witnesses. The exhibition, showing at the Munich Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism from June 24 to November 14, 2021, focuses on the history of testimony and examines the complex relationship between survivors of the Nazi regime and contemporary society.
How has testimony been recorded, collected, and preserved since the 1940s? How is it used in the public sphere? And how can schools, museums, and memorial sites care for this legacy in a responsible manner—now and in the future, when survivors will no longer be there to talk about their experiences in person? The emergence of testimony is a complex process involving more people than is generally assumed, and it raises numerous questions. How do memories become a narrative and to what extent is this narrative also shaped by other people? And how should we approach the fact that such narratives need to be treated just as critically as any other historical source?
The exhibition The End of Testimony? was conceived by the Jewish Museum Hohenems and the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp Memorial Site. It has now been adapted for Munich, and some new exhibits have been added. For the first time in a museum context the Munich Documentation Center will present two digital testimony projects currently being developed at Munich’s Ludwig Maximilian University and at the Volucap Studio of the UFA film studios in Berlin; visitors to the exhibition will be able to try these out for themselves.
The exhibition, shown on the second floor of the Munich Documentation Center, is divided into four chapters, each examining different aspects of the memories narrated by survivors. A number of audio-visual media points enable the contemporary witnesses to speak for themselves.