Tasks of the Nazi Documentation Centre
A permanent exhibition has been designed for the Villa Merländer, and is on show when the exhibition rooms are not taken up by temporary exhibitions. The permanent exhibition deals with the following subjects:
- Persecution of Jews, eg Richard Merländer, under the National Socialists.
- The people of Krefeld and National Socialism.
- Persecution and resistance on the left bank of the Lower Rhine, based on documents collected by Aurel Billstein.
- Bombing during the war.
- Outlawed art, eg Heinrich Campendonk.
The scope of our displays has been widened by presenting further aspects in the form of temporary exhibitions. The titles of these have included "Stone witnesses", "Foreign workers in our city", "Euthanasia in Hadamar", "Spied on and persecuted - Krefeld life histories in Gestapo files", "Bombs on Krefeld", "Krefeld 45" and "That I live among them. Historical synagogues". In future, general exhibitions on the history of Krefeld can also be shown in the Villa Merländer.
Very few official records about Krefeld have survived (great exception: the files from Krefeld's Gestapo branch office, which are preserved in the main national archives in Düsseldorf).
It is therefore all the more important to collect whatever else there is, not only documents, photos, diary entries, postcards, letters, etc, but also objects that are typical for the Nazi period. It is also the task of our staff to interview people who lived through the Nazi period.
The Nazi Documentation Centre aims to support anyone wanting to undertake a critical study of the history of National Socialism. A small specialized library is at their disposal to assist in this aim. Old newspapers can be viewed on a screen.
The Documentation Centre also devises and carries out research projects of its own. These papers are published in the series "Edition Billstein" and are intended as a continuation of the work of Krefeld's citizen of honour Aurel Billstein.
The Villa Merländer is a meeting place. The events organized by the Nazi Documentation Centre are intended as a forum for open discussion and analysis. A non-profit-making organization of friends supports the work of the Documentation Centre.
The wall paintings
Two wall paintings by the expressionist painter Heinrich Campendonk are to be found in the Villa Merländer. They were discovered in 1989 after having been concealed for decades under a protective layer of wallpaper. These pictures are the remaining two examples of several works of Campendonk from 1924/25 which used to be in the home of silk merchant Richard Merländer. These pictures are unique in that they combine Heinrich Campendonk's "typical" motifs (Pierrot, animals and plants or parts of plants) with themes from Richard Merländer's life (eg chess, card games).
From 1911, Heinrich Campendonk (born 1889) was one of the group of artists known as "Der blaue Reiter". He returned to his native Krefeld in 1922 and became professor at the Kunstakademie [Art academy] in Düsseldorf in 1926. In the course of the National Socialists' "Gleichschaltung" or "bringing into line" in higher education, Campendonk was dismissed in 1933/34. He emigrated to the Netherlands. The Nazis considered his art to be "degenerate". His pictures had to be removed from museums, many of his works are now lost. Heinrich Campendonk died in Amsterdam in 1957. You can also find his wall paintings at www.ns-gedenkstaetten.de/nrw (select the establishment in Krefeld).
Heinrich Campendonk's wall paintings are on show from 2-5pm on the 4th Sunday of every month (except during the holidays).
Further information on events to take place in the Villa Merländer can be found in our calendar of events.
The Villa Merländer
Nazi Documentation Centre of the City of Krefeld
Tel: +49 (0)2151 / 503553 (answering machine)
Information also available from city archives:
Tel: +49 (0)2151 / 862702
Fax: +49 (0)2151 / 862710
Further information at www.ns-gedenkstaetten.de/nrw