The Arolsen Archives are committed to promoting an active culture of remembrance, and they work towards this shared goal with a number of associations, initiatives, and foundations. Cooperative partnerships, like our partnership with the Ohrdruf concentration camp, show how this kind of cooperation can result in innovative learning and remembrance projects – thanks to the use of digital media and the active participation of young people.


In May 2022, the Friedenstein Castle Gotha Foundation launched a remembrance project called “Deutsche Erinnerungslücke KZ Ohrdruf” (German Memory/Remembrance Gap Ohrdruf Concentration Camp), which involves the Arolsen Archives and the Buchenwald and Mittelbau-Dora Memorials as partners. As part of the project, a virtual memorial site is being created for the victims of the camp, which was located south of Gotha. The project also includes workshops, campaigns, and a digital educational module titled “Suspicious. A Landscape of Crime.”

Christoph Mauny, education officer at the Weimar painting and drawing school, was the initiator of the school project. In January 2024, he received the Obermayer Award for this and other commemorative projects. He continues to work with the Arolsen Archives on developing and organizing workshops in Thuringia.


Lists from Ohrdruf concentration camp in the online archive

By digitizing the names on the lists of people who were deported to the Ohrdruf camp, volunteers helped to make their stories visible and fill in “memory/remembrance gaps.” (The German word “Erinnerungslücke,” which also appears in the title of the project, is normally translated as memory gap, but can also refer to a gap in remembrance). During a Week of Remembrance in early summer 2023, documents containing 30,160 names of prisoners from Ohrdruf concentration camp were successfully digitized. That meant the information was searchable in the online archive for the first time ever. Schools, associations, youth clubs, and companies were invited to enter the data from the documents into the crowdsourcing platform #everynamecounts.

Week of Remembrance in Thuringia

Suspicious: A Landscape of Crime

The digital learning module “Suspicious: A Landscape of Crime” brings the traces of Nazi crimes to light. Users can take a virtual tour that presents some of the largely unknown sub-camps of Buchenwald concentration camp located between North Rhine-Westphalia and Saxony. Three-hundred-and-sixty-degree panorama views enable them to explore the site where the Ohrdruf concentration camp used to stand; photos, quotations, and biographies invite them to dive into its history. The mini-game featured in our education hub “and today?” encourages them to discover traces of history in the present.

Go to the mini-game

Johnny & Jones - deported to Ohrdruf concentration camp

The story of the jazz duo “Johnny & Jones” is an example of the fate that could befall prisoners of Ohrdruf concentration camp. Jewish musicians Max Kannewasser and Arnold van Wesel wowed audiences in their home city of Amsterdam in the mid-1930s. Following the German Wehrmacht’s occupation of the Netherlands in May 1940, the musicians were banned from performing from 1941 onwards. In 1943, the Nazis detained them in the Westerbork transit camp, where they had to perform forced labor. Eleven months later, they were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, and some time after that, they were sent to Auschwitz and Ohrdruf concentration camp. Neither of them survived their imprisonment.

More about Johnny & Jones

Ohrdruf concentration camp

The Ohrdruf concentration camp was the first of over 130 Buchenwald sub-camps to be liberated by the US Army in 1945. As a result, Ohrdruf holds a special place in US-American remembrance of Nazi crimes, while it remains largely unknown in Germany, even locally. From November 1944 to April 1945, around 20,000 prisoners from various European countries passed through the camp. They had to perform forced labor in the nearby Jonas valley and were forced to perform extremely heavy work for up to 12 hours a day, digging tunnels into the mountain. Around 7,000 prisoners died. The photos of the liberated camp taken by the U.S. army are seen as symbolic of Nazi atrocities in the U.S.A. today.

To the historical overview (in German)

The “Suspicious: A Landscape of Crime” module is funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as part of the “Open Friedenstein!” project of the Friedenstein Foundation Gotha.

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