The Documentation Center holds a great many objects, books, magazines, newspapers, postcards and photographs from the National Socialist era. Although the collection originated through the Center's research in preparation for its permanent and special exhibitions, it has grown with parallel donations – most of them more or less at random – from the public at large. The Documentation Center has thus assumed a further important public function that it had not planned on at first: it has become a gathering point for items from the National Socialist era and materials dealing with related topics, including many books – donated primarily because people did not want these items, but also to make sure they got into good hands. Thus the Documentation Center has come to serve as a site taking charge of items people do not really want to keep in their homes, but also do not want to throw heedlessly into the trash – perhaps because of a book's racist content, or banned symbols, or simply because the item is too big and unwieldy. For example, the Center once received a three-meter-long swastika banner by mail from the USA.
Brought to Light – and in demand
The "Brought to Light" series will present, at irregular intervals, both esoteric and everyday items from the Documentation Center's collection, and thus help present the collection's full breadth. These objects, books and visual materials tell us about history. They help us carefully interrogate what's in the collection, interpret it, explore background, and fit together an overall picture of events. The "Brought to Light – From the Documentation Center Collection" series is a first step in working with the collection, gradually making it available for research and exhibition, and thus enabling it to be accessed by anyone interested.
A Propaganda Misfire – "Adolf Hitler Speaks"
The Nazi Party Rallies as a Folk Festival – Press Photos from the Atlantic Photo Agency in Berlin
"Gertrud Becomes Part of the Third Reich" – The Nazi Party Rally as a Promise for the Future and Maudlin Remembrance
On the way to a museum of a period's history
The Documentation Center was not by any means intended at first as a full-scale museum, performing the tasks of collecting, conserving, researching and exhibiting items; it was simply to be an exhibition documenting the events of the Nazi Party Rallies and the historic site of the Rally Grounds. That, in essence, was the point of its being named a "Documentation Center."
But that limitation did not last for long. Answers had to be found to specialists' questions. A specialized library had to be built up for the purpose. Research was needed for special exhibitions. And thus a collection of historic objects gradually also grew up.
This collection is still not fully catalogued, and the Documentation Center also still lacks truly appropriate storage space, along with the associated personnel. However, the remodeling of the Center that will begin in 2021 will provide a significant improvement. Most importantly, the Center will then be able to house the thousands of volumes in its historic book collection in such a way that they can be worked with.