NEWS REPORTS


DATE=8/13/97
TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT
NUMBER=5-37241
TITLE=GESTAPO MUSEUM
BYLINE=KYLE KING
DATELINE=COLOGNE
CONTENT=
VOICED AT: 

INTRO:  ANOTHER PAGE FROM THE MURDEROUS HISTORY OF THE ONCE 
FEARED NAZI SECRET POLICE HAS GONE ON DISPLAY AT AN UNUSUAL NEW 
MUSEUM IN THE GERMAN CITY OF COLOGNE.  VOA'S KYLE KING HAS THIS 
REPORT ON THE CHILLING NEW EXHIBITION.

TEXT:  FROM THE OUTSIDE OF THE MODEST FIVE-STORY BUILDING, THERE 
IS  NO  SIGN OF THE HORRORS THAT ONCE TOOK PLACE AT THE REGIONAL 
HEADQUARTERS OF HITLER'S SECRET POLICE, THE GESTAPO.

BUT INSIDE THE NEW MUSEUM AND DOCUMENTATION CENTER, THE HISTORY 
OF THE HEADQUARTERS AND THOSE WHO WORKED AND DIED THERE IS ON 
DISPLAY FOR ALL TO SEE.

            ///  RECORDING OF HITLER, FADE UNDER  ///

FROM OLD BARELY AUDIBLE RECORDINGS OF ADOLPH HITLER'S RAVINGS 
ABOUT THE JEWS TO CRAMPED CELLS WHERE PRISONERS WERE TORTURED AND
EXECUTED, VISITORS CAN SEE GRIZZLY REMINDERS OF NAZI METHODS.

BETWEEN 1935 AND 1945, THE BUILDING, KNOWN AS THE EL-DE HOUSE, 
SERVED AS THE GESTAPO HEADQUARTERS FOR THE CENTRAL RHEINLAND 
REGION AND AS A PRISON AND INTERROGATION CENTER.

BARBARA KIRCHBAUM, WHO HAS WORKED AT THE MUSEUM SINCE IT OPENED 
IN JUNE, SAYS MANY OF THOSE TAKEN TO THE BUILDING FOR QUESTIONING
WERE NEVER HEARD FROM AGAIN.

                     ///  KIRCHBAUM ACT  ///

         THERE WERE LOTS OF CASES OF DENUNCIATION.  IF SOMEBODY 
         WANTED TO HAVE YOUR APARTMENT MAYBE, THEY WENT TO THE 
         GESTAPO AND SAID I THINK THIS PERSON IS NOT REALLY IN 
         LINE WITH THE (NAZI) REGIME.  SO THEN YOU COULD BE 
         INVITED TO THE GESTAPO HEADQUARTERS AND NOBODY KNEW WHAT
         HAPPENED TO YOU.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

FOLLOWING THE WAR -- WHICH THE BUILDING SOMEHOW MANAGED TO 
SURVIVE -- THE BODIES OF SEVERAL VICTIMS OF NAZI JUSTICE WERE 
FOUND IN THE COURTYARD ALONG WITH THE GALLOWS WHERE MANY OTHERS 
ARE BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN KILLED.

IN THE BASEMENT OF THE BUILDING, BEHIND ROWS OF HEAVY WOOD AND 
METAL DOORS, ARE THE DARK AND CRAMPED CELLS WHERE PRISONERS WERE 
HELD.

ON THE WALLS OF THE CELLS MORE THAN 18-HUNDRED INSCRIPTIONS, 
POEMS, PLEAS, AND LETTERS, MANY SCRATCHED WITH PIECES OF COAL, 
CHALK, OR NAILS HAVE BEEN CAREFULLY PRESERVED.

ONE LETTER FROM A YOUNG FRENCH GIRL TO HER MOTHER SAYS, "I DON'T 
KNOW WHY I'M HERE, I HAVEN'T DONE ANYTHING.  BUT THEY HAVE 
ALREADY HELD ME FOR 15 DAYS, AND I CAN ONLY PRAY THAT SOMEHOW I 
WILL GET OUT OF THIS TERRIBLE PLACE."

ONE ELDERLY WOMAN VISITING THE MUSEUM FOR THE FIRST TIME SAID SHE
WAS SHOCKED BY THE EXHIBIT.

                ///  GERMAN ACT, FADE UNDER  ///

ITS A NIGHTMARE, SHE SAYS, ITS REALLY HORRIBLE, THE INJUSTICE 
THAT TOOK PLACE HERE.  BUT WHAT SURPRISED HER THE MOST SHE SAID, 
WAS  NOT  THE CHAMBER OF HORRORS IN THE BASEMENT.  

IT WAS THE PICTURES OF LOCAL NAZI AND GESTAPO OFFICIALS FROM THE 
REGION.  AMONG THEM, SHE FOUND RELATIVES FROM FAMILIES IN HER 
NEIGHBORHOOD.  PEOPLE SHE SAID SHE KNEW WELL, BUT WHO NEVER 
DISCUSSED THEIR PAST.

BARBARA KIRCHBAUM SAYS MANY VISITORS ARE AT FIRST DISTURBED AND 
TAKEN BACK BY THE MOSTLY BARE WALLS, WHICH APPEAR DIRTY AND 
PLAIN.  BUT IN THE END SHE SAYS, MOST ARE IMPRESSED BY THE 
DOCUMENTATION AND THE MODEST EXHIBIT.

                 ///  SECOND KIRCHBAUM ACT  ///

         IT'S VERY STRANGE, WHEN YOU COME OUT OF THE EXPOSITION 
         YOU HEAR GLEN MILLER MUSIC, AND YOU WILL FEEL FREE.   
         THANK GOD ITS OVER.

                        ///  END ACT  ///

             ///  GLEN MILLER MUSIC, FADE UNDER  ///

MUSEUM OFFICIALS SAY THE HISTORY OF THE BUILDING WAS  NOT  KNOWN 
TO MOST OF THE RESIDENTS OF COLOGNE, WHO GENERALLY VIEW 
THEMSELVES AS MORE INDEPENDENT MINDED THAN OTHER GERMANS.

VISITORS TO THE MUSEUM SAY THAT MYTH HAS  NOW  BEEN SHATTERED.  
(SIGNED)

NEB/KBK/JWH/KL

13-Aug-97 11:49 AM EDT (1549 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.