Enquiry into the history of the Festspielhaus Hellerau area under National Socialism and during the use of the Red Army, 1933 – 1993

Project Manager: Andreas Rutz
Researcher: Robert Badura

The project asks about the ways the Festspielhaus and the surrounding parts of the garden city of Hellerau were used during the Third Reich and the GDR. The garden city as well as the building complex making up the festival theater had quickly developed into nuclei of the life reform movement in Dresden. However, Great War brought this upgrowth to an abrupt end. Concurrently the location was idealised, a process that continues until today. After the Soviet troops withdrew the area was comprehensively reconstructed. Today it is again devoted to its original cultural use.

While the two first decades from the foundation of the gardencity in 1909 or the educational establishment of Émile Jaques-Dalcroze in 1911 respectively are relatively well researched, there are substantial gaps in research especially from 1933 to 1994. That particularly concerns the time and the varieties of usage after the National Socialist “seizure of power” 1933 and the eventual deployment oft the Polizei-Ausbildungsbataillon Dresden-Hellerau in 1938 as well as the Red Army garrison from 1945 to 1993. The area underwent conversions, and the group of buildings was extended such as the construction of two wing casern buildings. Once foreign or non-related objects were set into the social arrangement of the site and the manner of how it was integrated is a moot question up to now.

The research focusses on the investigation if and how police forces garrisoned in Hellerau were involved into the National Socialist war of conquest and annihilation in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, the place of the Polizeiwaffenschule – beyond a spatial understanding – in the military complex in the north of Dresden is part of the study. Additional questions are related to the acceptance of military presence across the population as well as how they have been connected to members of police and the military, especially to the Soviet armed forces.

In addition to screenings and the use of archive material further probing for potential interviews with contemporary witnesses will be conducted. These are prerequisites for future studies that allow writing a history of everyday life in Hellerau.