„To focus attention on the individual“ was of special importance to Werner Busch, the co-founder of the Friends’ association, and has since been the motivation of the professional and voluntary staff. Founded in 1993 by representatives of the regional civilian population, the association considers itself as a civilian protagonist, promoting a regional culture of remembrance and, in a wider sense, historical-political educational activities which, in addition to imparting both historical knowledge and judgment, also include opportunities for education in democratic and human rights.
Since the opening of the first permanent exhibition(1997) more than 50,000 visitors have visited the memorial site, which is part of the former detention barrack of Stalag 326, and participated in guided tours, seminars, workshops and conferences. In addition to the scientific studies of the history of Stalag 326, the Friends’ Association and the staff of the memorial have assembled an important and unique archival collection. The well-stocked library is open to members of scientific and cultural institutions, public institutions as well as natural and legal persons. At regular intervals, pupils and students take part in traineeships on the memorial site lasting several weeks.
The staff spend much time and effort in investigating the fates of Soviet war dead and survivors as well as of French, Polish, Belgian and Italian prisoners of war. So far, it has been possible t0 identify 16,000 Soviet war dead buried at the Cemetery of Honour. This is 0f immeasurable importance, as many positive reactions and personal encounters with relatives have shown.
Without the cooperation of volunteers, the present memorial site with its diverse opportunities for collaboration would not exist. The voluntary commitment of the Friends’ Association has ensured that both the history of Stalag 326 and the war dead buried in the Cemetery of Honour are not forgotten. In addition, this offers opportunities to take a stand and play an active part in fighting group-related ideologies of inequality such as racism, antisemitism, chauvinism, homophobia, or sexism. There is a need, today and in the future, for a strong civil society to strengthen democracy in times of „alliances of right-wing threats“ (Wilhelm Heitmeyer).
Before Covid- 19 and the first lockdown in March 2020, the voluntary staff worked up to 2,000 hours annually. In 2014, a full-time position was created for an executive secretary, initially on a part-time basis, but has been full-time since 2019. It is financed by the municipality of Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock and the district of Gütersloh. In recent years, it has been possible to fund the setting up of a number of fixed-term project assignments.
on the occasion of his visit at the Memorial on 6 May 2015:
… there is now a documentation centre here, as well as a highly dedicated and exemplary friends’ association, insightful guided tours and exhibitions. The relatives of victims, who come from far away looking for traces of memories of their father or grandfather, are lovingly looked after and supported. – Gauck on 6 May 2015
If you wish to join the Friends’Association, please fill in the application form and return the signed form to us by mail or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The mail goes to Maria Wiebe
Gedenkstätte Stalag 326 (VI K) Senne
z. H. Maria Wibe (Sekretariat)
Lippstädter Weg 26
33758 Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock
We will also be happy to send you the application form.