The Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma was established in Heidelberg, Germany, in the early 1990's ,as a memorial to Sinti and Roma people who were killed by the National Socialists Party. After several years of extension work collecting stories from the victims, conducting research, and conversion, the building complex was ceremonially opened to the public on 16 March 1997, and was supported by the attendance of many Roma and Sinti survivors. It is the world's first permanent exhibition on the genocide perpetrated upon the Sinti and Roma by the Nazis. The documentation Centre has three levels and covers an area of almost 700 square meters, and traces the history and stories of the persecution of the Sinti and Roma under National Socialism. The institution is overseen by Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, supported by the city of Heidelberg, and is the beneficiary of special funds from the German Federal Government and the land of Baden-Württemberg.
The first level of the exhibition is designed to showcase the everyday lives of the minority on one floor, and on the second floor the persecution apparatus and terror. The Centre’s East German architect, Dieter Quast, deliberately made this separation both spatially and in the exhibition itself. At the same time, they are related to one another in a way that creates a constant tension, which not only challenges visitors to reflect critically on the documents produced by the perpetrators, but also urges them to show empathetic understanding for the victims.
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