Dr. Elke Gryglewski, Stiftung Niedersächsische Gedenkstätten

Ms. Gryglewski, how would you complete the following sentence: "Right is,...."?

What is right is (or should be) what strengthens our democracy and promotes the equal coexistence of people in a diverse society. During National Socialism, neither was provided nor wanted. At that time, law was only supposed to serve the interests of the state or the National Socialist regime; it was always ideologically based and was written, exercised and interpreted with the aim of persecuting people defined as not belonging and, in particular, murdering Jews or Sinti and Roma. Based on the experience of that time, the state itself, with its governments, now attaches importance to supporting strategies to prevent such policies and to allow jurisprudence to be independent of political influence.

In your project "Right is what benefits the state – Historical education as a prerequisite for democratic action in Lower Saxony [Recht ist, was dem Staat nützt – Historische Bildung als Voraussetzung demokratischen Handelns in Niedersachsen]" you address systematically relevant professional groups. What does the history of National Socialism have to do with the work of an employee in the administration or police today?

Today we know that in 1945 there was not the "zero hour" that had long been talked about. On the contrary, there was a great deal of continuity in terms of staff, which of course also brought structural and ideological continuities with it. Some lines of continuity, for example procedures or structures in the administration, have their origins in the period before National Socialism. For these professional groups in particular, it is very important to question from within the institution itself whether organizational and institutional forms hinder or even counteract democratic convictions. Furthermore, the very term "systemically relevant" shows that there are professional groups which, due to their field of activity, contribute substantially to the democratic constitution and democratic action in society.

In what way does your project differ from other projects in historical-political educational work?

It is important to us that we have not chosen young people as our target group here; instead, we enter into a dialog with adults who are experts in their respective professional fields. With our expertise on the history of National Socialism, we want to stimulate processes in which participants draw conclusions for the present based on the historical sources we use. Beyond the use of historical sources, we are going to work with elements from anti-bias work and encounter pedagogy; we want to sensitize participants to antisemitism and antigypsyism in this way.