On this occasion, as chairwoman of the Förderverein “Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Walpersberg” e.V., based in Kahla, I would like to thank all members, friends, sympathizers, helpers, lenders, supporters and former members, especially Wilfried Kobs, for their commitment in and for the association. Only with your commitment can we present to this day what is respected and recognized in public, especially abroad, our committed work.
20 years ago, in March 2003, our association was founded to meet the official requirements for the organization of a memorial service at Walpersberg. This was followed by others until the property “Walpersberg” was sold to private individuals in 2007.
In 2003, at that time still called “REIMAHG” e.V., we decided 2 years later the more meaningful renaming to “Förderverein Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Walpersberg” e.V. based in Kahla. Some members categorically rejected this, left the association and founded a new one, with a similar club name. Which still causes confusion and confusion in the public today.
Unfortunately, association work is not only characterized by positive aspects, we also had to experience this with much, very much incomprehension and were forced to deal with it again and again.
Sad, but true, 2 bulging large folders with original documents are proof of this. In terms of content, above all, to assign an association that pressed our members, our work and the association for years, attacked it personally in the press as well as members, showered it with lies and accusations. Ultimately, he sought the complete takeover of the association and demanded that we publicly announce our dissolution. This failed because our lawyer took action to protect our rights. We needed our lawyer several times until 2021, we were also right, which usually led to new attacks. Even on 23.01.2020, when our association was a day item in front of the Erfurt state parliament, where a politician tried by all means to present us as non-existent. This was also rejected. In short, this is only the tip of the iceberg, because the contents of the folders concern blackmail, threats, demands, arrogance as well as arrogance, the list is long.
Despite everything, we have developed a well-known and good name beyond the country’s borders with a lot of positive commitment in 20 years of association work. Communicative and respectful interaction with people at home and abroad is an important part of the association’s work. Above all, however, the many personal contacts, in Germany as well as to Canada, America, Chile, England, Scotland, France, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, etc., helped us with the research. Thus, among many others, we were able to secure a pension for the former forced laborers in their country, among many others, the recognition of two forced labor camps by the IOM, Switzerland.
Many inquiries reach us about documents, mostly found in the estate of family members who were in Kahla but never talked about it. We can help 99.9% with personal information, thanks to over 20 TB of archive data, which an association member has meticulously collected for over 30 years. This includes over 8,000 personal folders.
This dataset is also the basis for articles in the foreign press and publications as well as the 78 articles published so far on the history of REIMAHG, published in the Official Journal and the Kahlaer Nachrichten. The response from the population is consistently positive, we are told that they are very “informative and interesting”. We have enough material for further articles.
Among the many people we met in the 20 years are everyone, without distinction, no matter what and who they were. It is their fates and life stories that the REIMAHG story reflects. One requires the other, which can be discovered visually and informatively in our professionally presented exhibition in the Kahla City Museum. Many original objects and models document a history that is closely and inseparably linked to Kahla and the Buchenwald concentration camp. This form of public relations work includes cooperation with other institutions, museums and memorials, also abroad, in joint projects and exhibitions. At this point we would also like to thank the city of Kahla for the many years of good cooperation and thus the recognition of ourwork for the people.
The multi-layered history of the plant, in the right historical framework with facts, information, documents, photos and films, we convey in guided tours and lectures. The quality of these confirms that to this day many former participants of guided tours also take part in our nationwide excursions within the association.
A highlight of the association’s work are the annual commemorations in May. As in previous years, we are working closely with the LRA SHK involved in the preparations. This year, after Corona, again with international participation. In addition to the commemoration ceremonies, we offer our foreign guests excursions, meals together and cozy get-togethers, which are always accepted with gratitude and joy.
Coming to terms with history, friendship, gratitude and cooperation with people was and is an incentive for us to continue our work. In addition to the fateful history, we also convey to our guests and visitors another side of our region, the unique nature and history of the Saale Valley and Thuringia, which is not without reason called the green heart of Germany.