Educational and Memorial Site of the Alsterdorf Evangelical Foundation
An educational and memorial site opened on 9 May 2022 outside St Nicolaus Church in Alsterdorf. This complements the memorial stone and Stolperschwelle for the ‘euthanasia’ victims of the Alsterdorf Institution. The educational and memorial site commemorates the 630 people with disabilities who were deported from the former Alsterdorf Institution between 1938 and 1945. 513 of them are known to have been murdered.
At the centre of the educational and memorial site is the former altarpiece of the Alsterdorf church, which was taken from the apse in 2021. The altarpiece was designed by Pastor Lensch in 1938. It depicts a group of 12 haloed Biblical and contemporary figures, as well as three additional people with disabilities. These three people have no haloes and are being carried by the others, and their presence exceeds the holy number of 12. The altarpiece is a symbol of discrimination against people with disabilities and their exclusion from the community, which is why the church congregation decided to remove it. It was not hidden away, however, but instead erected as a public monument. The names of the people murdered in killing facilities are listed on the back.
A variety of information is presented alongside the altarpiece at the educational and memorial site. The names and pictures of the victims can be found on one wall. A revolving panel features biographies of some of the victims as well as information about the perpetrators. A multimedia display case includes interviews with various people who discuss some of the questions that arise here, such as: Why was this educational and memorial site created? How did the National Socialists’ ‘euthanasia programme’ come about? Why did it take so long for this history to be critically reappraised? A display case designed by students from the nearby Bugenhagenschule features changing exhibits which will encourage visitors to continue grappling with the history of discrimination against people with disabilities.
The educational and memorial site is freely accessible throughout the day.