I thought I knew something about the domestic resistance to the Nazi regime, but I learnt so much more here, especially the activity in the Dortmund area, which had, with its coal-mining and steel-making history, a strong, established working-class left-wing culture. The exhibits were labelled in German, with no translation, but there was an excellent printed English guide to each room which you could either borrow or buy (half a Euro) from the reception office. It gave us a comprehensive narrative, from the economic crisis of 1929-32, political radicalisation and the collapse of the Weimar Republic, to the hastily-accelerated murders, in 1945, of the remaining prisoners opposed to Nazi ideology. Displays included every aspect of political opponents inclouding gay activists, writers, newspaper editors, left-wing youth movements, unions etc. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses, I learned, were executed for their refusal to accept a higher authority than the Bible.
If you are interested in mankind, and the monstrous blot, in the 1930s and 1940s, on what had in former centuries been celebrated as one of Europe’s most civilised and enlightened nations, or what happens when people stand by while bad things are done around them, then I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough * (after seeing how a regime had systematically set about dismantling all opposition, when I heard on BBC radio, shortly after returning home, that our current government planned to curb the influence of the House of Lords, after the latter had impeded its ambition to impose tax relief cuts, it did catch my attention).
Our coach took us to nearby Hattingen late Saturday afternoon - which has a beautiful medieval town hall, its windows made, each December, into an Advent Calendar. The Grimm Fairy Tales character Frau Holle (who shakes out her pillows to send the snow) appears each evening at 5pm, and unveils one of the decorated windows, as she speaks to the crowd. It was very sweet to see not only children, but also accompanying parents and grandparents, singing along to traditional songs with her. Back in Dortmund, some of our party headed off in the evening for a Bach concert in the Reinoldi Kirche.