French research project “Notre histoire – Our history”, 25 August 2023

We were asked by the Kahla “Leuchtenburg” Gymnasium to provide technical support for their French project “Notre histoire – Our History”, which we gladly agreed to. We had already worked successfully with the high school on a 3-day project last school year.

The current project is being worked on by 16 eleventh grade high school students. You are researching personal French forced laborers who were used in the former underground Nazi armaments factory “REIMAHG” near Kahla. Guided and supervised by 2 teachers and us, the local support association “Mahn- und Gedenkstätte Walpersberg” e.V., which has been dealing with the subject of “forced labour in the REIMAHG factory” for over 30 years and has researched it worldwide, so we know many archives and their inventory . Not only that is an advantage for the research of the high school students, but also the multilingual work of the association, which also includes French.

A brief historical information: in April 1944, the deportation of more than 12,500 people from Western and especially Eastern Europe to Kahla began to build the aircraft factory “REIMAHG”. Accommodated in camps, most of which were structurally unfinished by the end of the war.

Several hundred French were among those deported. They were either deported directly from France or transferred to Kahla from other places in Germany. A large proportion of the French, including women, worked in the underground tunnel system, in “Stelle 0”, the only subterranean site that was already productive at this point.

The project work of the high school students primarily includes in-depth research in archives on the French, all of whom are known by name, who were in Kahla in 1944/1945. The preparation for the project work begins with a lecture introducing the history of the underground armaments factory, a visit to the exhibition in the Kahla city museum, a video link to interview French relatives, as well as support/support for research and its evaluation, with certain work sequences working in parallel in German and French. All work, from start to finish, is accompanied by multimedia documentation.