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 a concept for formats that would enable to make the history of the building at Ihnestr. 22 more visible. For this end, it reviews the already existing research on the history of the KWI-A and on the history of eugenics in Germany, consults with actors from historical research and from self-organizations of the relevant victim groups and drafts formats that can enable a sensitive visualization and discussion of 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 project "History of Ihnestr. 22" will also host a lecture series from April to July 2020 that addresses the history of KWI-A as well as related questions concerning practices and politics of remembrance.
Finally, the project's researchers also offer classes that help anchor the study of the history of KWI-A in the curriculum of the Otto Suhr Institute.