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The CityLab on the search for traces today –
Frankfurt and Nazism

CityLab Exhibition
9 December 2021 – 11 September 2022

In the autumn of 2020, 38 people from Frankfurt embarked on a search for traces of nazism. Their starting point was the present. They asked which places, things, or events reminded them personally of the Nazi era. In which imprints, feelings, attitudes, or ideals do they find traces and continuations of the NS that still shape our society, even if the city's inhabitants have changed a lot?

In the CityLab exhibition, 25 different answers to these questions were on display. They searches for traces began at bunkers an memorial sites, in families or communities. Some of them opened the view on other experiences of violence, which are not directly connected to the NS. And last but not least, they also led to the repercussions of the NS, which express themselves as continued exclusion or racist violence.

Who belongs to the memory collective?

The CityLab "Searching for traces today" wanted to encourage a critical examination of the "German memory culture". With its numerous memorial days and places, it is considered exemplary. However, there are also voices that criticize it as a "Gedächtnistheater" ("theater of memory") that serves to relieve society and prevents an active, individual assumption of responsibility.

The CityLab exhibition gave an impression of how plural today's memory collective is. Especially when it comes to the question of whom "German history" concerns and who should participate in it and in what way, homogeneous notions of "Germanness" become visible again and again. The project should encourage us to think about remembering in an open and diverse way that corresponds to the reality in our city and our country. Our wish is to promote a community of memory in solidarity, in which everyone shares the goal of overcoming structures that are still marked by injustice.

Within the CityLab project, we took up current impulses of cultural studies, memory research and history didactics. Both fields of research start from a productive understanding of memory: Everyone who lives here brings individual memories with him or her. And those who go in search of Nazi traces encounter local or established commemorative practices. This clash of memories does not lead to a competition for attention, but it releases new memories and historical references.

The project "Searching for traces today" as a concrete test of the personal approaches that different Frankfurt residents have to Nazi history today. How can participation in German history be shaped? Or to put it another way: What can a modern, contemporary and inclusive culture of remembrance look like?

Made and supported by

Imprint (Download PDF)

Videos for the CityLab exhibition

Exhibition trailer
Eine Stadt macht mit und lügt sich frei – Film by Andrzej Bodek [German language]
Die Familie war jüdisch – Film by Judy Rosenthal [German language]
Es geht mir nicht um Schuld – Film by Ursula Schmidt-Pallmer with Patrizia Siwak and Silas Kropf [German language]
Über Erinnerungen sprechen – Film by Holger Priedemuth for the Frankfurter Stiftung für Schwerhörige und Gehörlose [German language]

Audios for the CityLab exhibition

Warum schweigen wir? – Audio installation by Semeret Micael [German language]

Nichts hören, nichts sehen, nichts sagen? – Audio text by Gundi Mohr [German language]

Documentation and materials

The exhibition documentation can be purchased via the catalog order form or read online here.