Haus der Wannsee-Konferenz in Berlin

A private developer announced plans Wednesday to move the German Bratwurst Museum from its current location in Holzhausen to nearby Mühlhausen in Thuringia. The museum’s website claimed: “After looking intensely for a new home throughout the whole of Thuringia, we have found the perfect symbiosis of location, investor and community. The combination offers potential for a quick start and almost limitless growth.”

The developer also plans to open a theater, a hotel and various other event locations. The eastern German state of Thiringia is known all over Germany for its Thüringer Bratwurst (Thuringia sausage).

Location, location, location

There is, however, one massive problem with the plan. The new complex is to be built at an annex to the former Nazi concentration camp at Buchenwald. The camp was built by the Nazis in July 1937. By the time it was liberated by the Allies in April 1945, more than 56,000 of the 280,000 people that had been imprisoned in the camp had been murdered or died as a result of starvation, illness or medical experiments.

Read more: Germany probes neo-Nazi photo taken inside Buchenwald

The building set to house the sausage museum was an annex of the camp, a site where some 700 Jewish women, brought there from the Auschwitz death camp, lived while being forced to work at a nearby munitions factory. The women were informed that they would be returned to Auschwitz when they could no longer work.

‘Lack of sensitivity and social awareness’

News of the plan has caused consternation. Rikola-Gunnar Lüttgenau of the Buchenwald Memorials Foundation told Germany’s dpa press agency that the plan exhibited a “lack of sensitivity and historical awareness.” Lüttgenau said that he was not necessarily against redeveloping the site, but added, “It depends on what is to be done there.”

Reinhard Schramm, president of the Jewish Community of Thuringia, was clearer in his opposition, saying, “a location on the site of a former barracks for Jewish forced laborers is inacceptable.”

Left party state parliamentarian Katharina König-Preuss said, “The former annex must not be used in this form. Such sites remind us of our responsibility to actively deal with our history and current forms of anti-Semitism. I find the museum funny and relevant, but please don’t put it here.”

Read more: Opinion: Germany’s historical obligation continues

City council doesn’t see a problem

On Thursday evening, however, Mühlhausen city council approved the plan without any mention of the historical significance of the site. One member did vote against the plan, but he objected to the Bratwurst Museum because he said it glorified the meat industry.   

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