Commemoration: End of World War II in Aachen
Organized by Community Foundation “Lebensraum Aachen”

On October 21, 2014 it will be exactly 70 years since U.S. troops liberated Aachen and its citizens. The debate about the bunker in the Rütscherstraße led the Community Foundation “Lebensraum Aachen” to recall this historic event. We conceptualize a lieu de mémoire, induce a process of coming to terms with the past, provide a forum to contemporary witnesses and we offer a platform for schools in Aachen to deal with the topic of “70 years of peace and liberty”. The works of the students will be supported by a competition. Furthermore, we aim at giving American contemporary witnesses the chance to report on their experiences and to reflect on the meaning and importance of peace and liberty together with students in American schools. Thereby, as citizens of Aachen, we would also like to express our sincere gratitude to our liberators!

Place and time
11.30 a.m. – 2.30 p.m.
Town hall Aachen

Conference on the “Battle of Hürtgen Forest 1944/45” on September 13, 2013 in Vossenack
Organized by Arbeitskreis für historische Kulturlandschaftsforschung in Mitteleuropa e. V. (Working Comittee for historical cultural landscape research in Central Europe), Municipality of Hürtgenwald, Gesellschaft für interdisziplinäre Praxis e. V., Landschaftsverband Rheinland, NS-Documentation Center of the City of Cologne, RWTH Aachen University / Research Group for Economic, Social and Technology History, Stiftung Gedenken und Frieden des Volksbundes Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V. The organizers are grateful to the Center for Political Education of North Rhine-Westphalia for the promotion of the conference.

In late autumn 1944, the Hürtgen Forest was a theatre of heavy fighting between Allied troops and soldiers of the Wehrmacht in the German-Belgian border area. The fighting count among the longest battles of World War II involving the heaviest losses on German soil in the West and leaving thousands dead and wounded. The war has left its mark on the Hürtgen Forest and its municipalities for many years after 1945. Today there are still remnants of war in the woods: blown up bunkers, overgrown trenches, unexploded bombs. Two military cemeteries, crosses, plaques, numerous memorial stones and artistic exhibits testify to the deep scars the war events have left in people’s memories. After combat on the Eastern Front in Russia and in France, soldiers of the 116th Panzer Division (“Greyhound” division) were involved in the “Battle of Hürtgen Forest”. Veterans of the 116th Division established a commemorative culture in the region that endures to the present day. By now, only a few of the veterans are still alive. The loss of the veteran association left a void throwing the gates wide open for “wild commemoration“.

With regard to the memory landscape of the Hürtgen Forest, there is a lack of nuanced representations of local and regional war experiences, while the memory of the “Greyhound” division seems more visible.The symposium “Hürtgen Forest – Perspectives of Commemoration” seeks to broaden the debate on appropriate representations of regional histories of war. Furthermore, it aims at providing alternatives to offender-centric and myth-infiltrated historical narratives in the region and at inducing a change of perspective with regard to the politics of remembrance allowing for a generation change.

Speakers and discussants: Prof. Dr. Andreas Dix (University of Bamberg, board of ARKUM), Ulrike Lubek (LVR director), Bernd Neuendorf (Secretary of State at the Ministry of Culture and Youth, NRW), Axel Buch (Mayor of the municipality of Hürtgen Forest), Frank Möller (Deutschlandfunk, German World Service), Dr. Peter M. Quadflieg (RWTH Aachen University), Dr. Joachim Weiner (GIP), Wolfgang Wegener M.A. (LVR), Dr. Karola Fings (NS-Documentation Center of the City of Cologne), Dr. Klaus-Dieter Kleefeld (LVR), Peter Bülter (Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge e. V.), Sylvia Löhrmann (Ministry for Education and Training NRW), Maria Springenberg-Eich (NRW Agency for Civic Education), Wolfgang Spelthahn (Head of the District of Düren), Dr. Klaus Naumann (Hamburg Institute for Social Research), History project class of Franziskus-Gymnasiums Vossenack.

Place and time
8.45 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Franziskus-Gymnasium, Hürtgenwald-Vossenack

For further information, please visit the conference website (in German): Internetseite zur Tagung.