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History of the Villa Merländer

This villa, situated on what is now called Friedrich-Ebert-Strasse, was built in the mid 1920s for Richard Merländer (born 1874 in Mülheim/Ruhr), a silk manufacturer and wholesaler. Richard Merländer was a bachelor and lived with his servants in this distinctively designed building.

From 1933 Richard Merländer was persecuted under the Nazi regime because he was Jewish. In the course of time his company was confiscated, he was stripped of his civil rights and forced to sell his home. In 1941 he had to move into a so-called "Judenhaus" [Jews' house]. In July 1942, although he was already 68 years old, Richard Merländer was deported to Theresienstadt concentration camp. In September 1942 he was sent from there to Treblinka extermination camp. Of the 3,000 people who were transported there with him no-one survived, so details of his death are not known. He was presumably gassed shortly after his arrival there.

His house was "Aryanized" and turned into a hotel; it changed hands several times before the City of Krefeld rented it. On discovering the Campendonk paintings, Krefeld City Council decided to turn the villa into a Nazi documentation centre. It was opened in November 1991. Following a further council resolution, the Culture Office moved into the building in 1996. The staff from the Nazi Documentation Centre were transferred to offices in the City Archives.