Post-war German and European history, and the history of the second German dictatorship, do not solely belong in the history books.
Immediately after World War II multiple “special camps” were constructed by the Soviet secret service NKVD in the Soviet occupation zone, and countless people were interned in them. In these camps, some former Nazi concentration camps, the minority of inmates were war criminals but the vast majority were individuals, including many youths, who were entirely arbitrarily kidnapped off the street without their families being notified. Among them were Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Belarussians, Poles, Hungarians, Austrians, Lithuanians, Estonians and other nationalities.
The darkest chapters in East German history
The active processing of the darkest chapter in East Germany’s past, based on the mortal danger and the silence surrounding it, only began in 1990.
It was primarily due to the search service of the Kampfgruppe gegen Unmenschlichkeit (KgU), founded by Dr. Rainer Hildebrandt in 1948, that the mortal danger in the Soviet camps became known in the West and relatives could be notified. In the late ’50s the KgU was able to provide around 900,000 file cards to the search service of the German Red Cross (DRK).
Only in 1992 did the German Red Cross receive from Russia lists of 43,000 casualties of the Soviet NKVD camps in Germany between 1945 and 1950. As part of this traditional cooperation with the German Red Cross, the Mauermuseum – Museum Haus am Checkpoint Charlie makes the lists of around 43,000 victims of the Soviet NKVD camps accessible to visitors, in the hope that some of the dead may still be identified by relatives.