Project "History of Ihnestr. 22"
Highlighting the History and Aftermath of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics
Welcome to the Homepage of the Project "History of Ihnestr. 22".
The building at Ihnestraße 22 in Berlin-Dahlem, which today houses part of the Otto Suhr Institute for Political Science, carries within it a dreadful history of dehumanisation and racism. From 1927 to 1945, it served as the main building of the "Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics" (KWI-A) and was specially built for this purpose. The "KWI-A" soon became a prominent institute for human genetics, "race research" and eugenics: under its roof, scientists tried to prove the heritability of diseases and behavior as well as of traits, by which they tried to support the idea of human "races". The KWI-A was also directly involved in eugenic measures of the German state: already at the time of the Weimar Republic, institute staff members legitimized the forced sterilization of persons. At the Ihnestr. 22, scientists have also ultimately conducted research on the bodies of people who were murdered in Nazi extermination camps and sanatoriums. Especially Sinti and Sintize, Roma and Romnja, Jews, Black people and people with disabilities fell victim to the work of the KWI-A.
The project, which was established in January 2019, develops an exhibition that makes the history of KWI-A visible on the historical site. For this end, it reviews the already existing research on the history of the KWI-A and on the history of eugenics in Germany and conducts research especially to identify victims of the KWI-A. The project consults with self-organizations of the relevant victim groups as well as with an advisory board while drafting formats and narratives to visualize the history of the KWI-A and the injustices associated with it. A central concern is to emphasize that the history of eugenic ideas and practices begins well before 1933 and does not end in 1945. The exhibition is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
The project "History of Ihnestraße 22" will host public events dedicated to the history of the KWI-A and to related questions of memory politics (postponed due to the pandemic).
Finally, the research associates of the project offer seminars with which they aim to work towards anchoring the study of the history of the KWI-A more firmly in the teaching at the Otto Suhr Institute.
The project team currently includes the historians Dr. Manuela Bauche (project director) and Kerstin Stubenvoll (research associate) as well as the political scientist Danna Marshall as a student assistant. The historically oriented political scientist Volker Strähle, who was a research associate in the project until the end of 2020, continues to contribute to the project as a freelance researcher.