Exhibitions On view

»People who still could have lived« - Victims of Nazi Crimes Represented in the Prinzhorn Collection

Special Exhibition 23 November 2023 to 31 March 2024

Skulpturen von Jochen Meyer
Jochen Meyder, „Projekt 10 654“, 2014-2023 © Sammlung Prinzhorn Universitätsklinikum Heidelberg

The exhibition "People who still could have lived " presents an unusual cross-section of the Prinzhorn Collection: 150 very different works from the entire 20th century. In addition to a classic of the collection, "Air drawing" by Otto Stuß (1909), for example, a selection of the 1800 flower pastels by the Jewish Germanist Hanna Hellmann, which she drew in the asylum from 1939 to 1942, and striking portraits of Nazi personalities produced by Theodor Wagemann in a home in the 1980s are on view. What do these works have in common? Their authors were victims of National Socialist crimes.

The commemoration of the victims of psychiatry under National Socialism has been an important concern of the museum since its inception. One of the first exhibitions in 2002/03 was the show "Cause of Death: Euthanasia. Covert Murders in the Nazi Era" was shown as one of the first exhibitions. In the years that followed, Sabine Hohnholz, the collection's former archivist, steadily expanded the biographical research on the collection's patient artists, especially as research possibilities on victims of National Socialist crimes increased elsewhere. Thus, a new, though certainly not definitive, state of research has been reached, which forms the basis for the current exhibition. It also includes victims of forced sterilization and of concentration and extermination camps. The accompanying catalog with reconstructions of life stories and stories of suffering as well as analyses of the surviving works was developed by a working group under the direction of museum director PD Dr. Thomas Röske and medical historian Prof. Dr. Maike Rotzoll.

The exhibited works convey an impression of the personalities behind the creations. Through them, a form of approach to victims of National Socialist crimes is possible that numbers, photos or meager facts do not allow.  In this respect, the exhibition sees itself as a contribution to the culture of remembrance.