Hartheim Castle is a place of commemoration and remembrance, of documentation and learning. These are also the fundamental duties of the location: 1.) commemoration, 2.) documentation, and 3.) education. These three duties are closely associated to and continually interact with each other: For instance, researching historical events and the findings of studies represent the basis for establishing memory processes, but they are also essential for strengthening and further developing the educational work. Just like at any memorial or museum exhibition, they therefore hold major significance. For this reason, it is all the more important to undertake the educational work with high quality standards for all of our visitors.
Educational Objectives of the Pedagogical Work at the Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim
The objectives of the pedagogical work at the Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim fall into three categories:
These factors resonate in the background. They are our basic values according to which we act as a place of learning and remembrance and which we would like to foster and strengthen in our visitors by means of our actions; they are equally important. These are:
- Understanding of democracy: Visitors are to be motivated to recognise the value, (protective) functions and importance of preserving democracy.
- Tolerance: Accepting people as they are is an important basic principle of our system of laws and values. Understanding the importance and implications of living tolerance beyond empty keywords is to be fostered.
- Understanding people: The protection of human rights is a further important pillar of our democratic society. Visitors to the Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim should be motivated to critically deal with the dimensions of human rights and the implications of disrespecting them.
- Values: Becoming aware of one's own values, reflecting on them and re-assessing them upon learning new things – this should be fostered in groups and individuals who visit the Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim.
2.) Location-Specific Educational Objectives
The location-specific educational objectives are learning goals to be aspired to, in particular, by visiting the castle and not another memorial or learning site. They are to be achieved by means of conveying the main contents of the memorial and exhibition. These goals are considered to be of equal importance, so the following list is in no particular order:
- Becoming sensitive to the situation of people with disabilities: How do people with disabilities live in our society? What are their wishes, worries, problems and needs? How does disability arise?
- Critical reflection of assessing human life: How did assessing human life come about with the culmination of the negative developments under National Socialism? What do dignity and the value of human life mean? What criteria were or are used to assess people and according to which criteria are they granted their dignity?
- Fostering understanding of human rights: What significance do human rights have for society and the individual? What do human rights mean in particular for people with disabilities? What causes people to be included in or excluded from society? How and where do barriers arise?
- Historical facts – Telling the story of Hartheim Castle: Focus is placed on the processes and key players in the Nazi euthanasia programme, at Hartheim Castle in particular and in the Third Reich in general, as well as on discovering the historical location, former euthanasia rooms and information about the post-war history of the castle.
3.) Educational Objectives
A guided tour or educational programme should lead visitors to establish a connection between what they have seen and heard and themselves.
- We talk about ourselves: The events under National Socialism lay far back in the past, especially for the younger generation. They are a closed chapter of history. Visitors to the Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim should develop a feeling for the fact that people who became victims, perpetrators, followers or spectators or who were persecuted or favoured under National Socialism, were normal people whose human nature was no different to that of people living today. On the contrary: people living today could act in a similar way if subjected to a comparable system.
- What business is that of mine? Visitors to the Lern- und Gedenkort Schloss Hartheim should be motivated to find and reflect on their personal relationship to the historical events. They should develop and/or re-think points of view and consider their personal consequences and implications based on what they have seen and heard.
- Critical questioning of current trends in the life sciences: The visitors should recognise and reflect on the complexity of ethical-moral questions in various fields of modern medicine. The dependency of the assessment of morally difficult situations on the personal situation of the individual should be demonstrated. The visitors should receive an impulse to reflect on the issues of the value and dignity of life by using current topics of discussion.
- Demonstration of responsibility and freedom of action: Which freedom of action did the individual have in the past and does he/she have in the present? How is it measured? What is the extent of personal responsibility? How and by what means are the professional ethics of those people formed who work in nursing, care and social professions? What responsibility and freedom of action are present in the modern life sciences?