The Fritz Bauer Library (FBL)
BACKGROUND OF THE EMERGENCE
2013 was the year of the delayed start of the NSU trial in Munich. At that time the survivors of the National Socialist Underground (NSU) had already experienced years of evidence destruction and distortion of their history. Like the many other survivors of racist attacks, they suffered a similar fate to the Holocaust survivors after 1945. Those affected were declared perpetrators and blamed for the attacks, often defamed. 2013 was also the year of the founding of the “Alternative for Germany”, which calls remembering the crimes of the Nazi regime in the form of the Holocaust Memorial a disgrace.Also in 2013 the public dismantling of the lawyer and Auschwitz prosecutor Dr. Fritz Bauer began. As a Social Democrat, he had resisted the Nazis who imprisoned him in a concentration camp in 1933. In exile he had struggled to survive, and after his return to Germany he brought the crime of Auschwitz, Nazi medicine and Nazi justice, the crimes of the Wehrmacht and the police to trial.
Starting in 2013, books and then also a travelling exhibition claimed that Fritz Bauer had not stood by his convictions. Rumours and false claims were spread. He had submitted to the Nazis in 1935 in order to be released from the concentration camp. After 1945 he had cowardly betrayed his Jewish origins by calling himself “without religious belief”. Allegedly he wanted to escape the still existing anti-Semitism. He had become a traitor to his country by handing over the deportation specialist Adolf Eichmann to Israel. Moreover, he had betrayed himself by not committing himself to homosexuality.
In the weekly newspaper Die Zeit, the criminologist and Attorney General of Brandenburg, Prof. Dr. Erardo Rautenberg, strongly rejected “The dismantling of Attorney General Dr. Fritz Bauer”. It was nevertheless filmed under the title DER STAAT GEGEN FRITZ BAUER.
Appalled by this falsification of history, which turns racist and anti-Semitic thought and action into dancing, Dr. Irmtrud Wojak, who published the first biography of Bauer in 2009, championed the work of the resistance fighter against National Socialism. Also the director Ilona Ziok with her film FRITZ BAUER -TOD AUF RATEN, the journalist and Cultural and Peace Prize Laureate of Villa Ichon Kurt Nelhiebel, the former Federal Minister of Justice Hertha Däubler-Gmelin and the Managing Director of the Bundesverband Bürgerschaftliches Engagement Dr. Ansgar Klein.
It was against this background that the idea of the Fritz Bauer Library, the most courageous library in the world, was born. In the face of growing nationalism and, as its other side, racism and anti-Semitism, it should help to strengthen history in the spirit of resistance against Nazi crimes and the need to practice human rights.
TESTING AND AWARD BY THE RADCLIFFE INSTITUTE OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY 2014/15 AND 2017
In 2014/15, the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University enabled the historian Dr. Irmtrud Wojak to test and further develop the project with a one-year scholarship.
Since the rise of racism and anti-Semitism is accompanied by a one-sided negative national culture of remembrance and a correspondingly black-and-white painting of history (here perpetrator – there victim) and, accordingly, by almost chronic inactivity, the library was intended to commemorate the Holocaust and the crime of genocide. In addition, however, it should also contribute to strengthening the voices of resistance of the survivors and to stimulate dialogue about it.
With this objective of a re-vision of history, the Fritz Bauer Library began as an interactive project planned for the long term. A database was programmed and a website set up to explore and tell history from the perspective of survivors worldwide. Student Research Fellows at the Radcliffe Institute began working with it for the first time in 2014/15. In 2017, the project was awarded an international research seminar at the Radcliffe Institute to evaluate the practical work with the database and improve it for users.
With the support of a Bochum-based working group and the Volkshochschule in Bochum, the interactive www.fritz-bauer-bibliothek.de was able to go online in 2019 and has since been available for researching individual stories worldwide. For the first time, an internet platform has been created that makes it possible to research and link the history of survivors of war and genocide, violence and economic injustice worldwide. For the first time, this provides a long-term opportunity to examine more closely the question of which different forces can lead or encourage people to act in the spirit of human rights even under extreme conditions.
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNERS – A WORLDWIDE COLLECTION OF STORIES
“An interactive database of people that have given their testimony and often times their lives for the world
is probably the most important database that we can have.”
– Frank La Rue, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information
The interactive collection “Human Rights Fighters” unites stories of people struggling for human rights worldwide – their own and those of others. What leads these people to resist? Where do they find the strength in situations where others, often without exception, remain silent and learn to live with injustice? What can we do ourselves?
These are the questions that can be explored more closely with the support of the interactive database of the Fritz Bauer Library.
In this way, the practice of human rights is strengthened and disseminated further. The interactive Fritz Bauer Library with its database of human rights campaigners is suitable for research and for use in schools and universities, in extracurricular educational work and for individual research and documentation. It is also a public platform for survivors and their relatives so that the history of the survivors’ resistance becomes better known and they can finally find more recognition in their ” Struggle for Human Rights” (Fritz Bauer).
PRESENCE AND SPECIAL LIBRARY
The Fritz Bauer Library also provides printed and electronic media and information on the following topics:- Transitional Justice and the History of Memory Cultures Worldwide
– History of human rights
– survival stories and (auto-)biographies (special collection)
The library collects current literature on Germany and on the European and international “fight for human rights”. The holdings are interdisciplinary, but mainly historical, social and political science, and in some cases legal. Linguistically, it comprises mainly German and English publications as well as some Spanish language editions.
The FBB is an integral part of the Fritz Bauer Forum planned in Bochum and sees its informative task in acting as the voice of the survivors of genocide, war, racism and anti-Semitism. Comprehensive information on human rights is available on the library’s website:
– Local and country-specific articles on the history of genocide and human rights violations,
– Local or country-specific references to initiatives, archives and museums with remembrance cultural objectives,
– Local or country-specific bibliographies.
You will also find:
– The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
– Information on the history of human rights
– International declarations of the UN
– Information on individual human rights
– Information and links to the International Criminal Court in The Hague
– Links to research and educational institutions on human rights
– Links to NGOs that promote human rights.
The Fritz Bauer Library is a project of the non-profit BUXUS STIFTUNG GmbH at its workplace in Bochum.
Trailer: Jakob Gatzka (Copyright BUXUS FILMS)