The Research Project
The term ‘Hamburg Firestorm’ refers to the bombing raids on Hamburg that took place over several days in the summer of 1943. Around 35,000 people lost their lives and the “Firestorm” has been seared into the city’s memory – as the deepest caesura in the 20th century in the shape of Hamburg and its history. Thus far, little is known about the long-term effects of this war experience, both in historical terms and in relation to the ramifications it has had both for individuals and across generations. An interdisciplinary research project, which has been receiving support from the Gerda Henkel Foundation since 2006 and takes survivors and succeeding generations as its subject matter, focuses on the question, to what extent do war experiences lead to long-term trauma and how this is processed in the context of the individual, the family and society?
What consequences does the Hamburg Firestorm bear for family memories today? How do the psychological wounds inflicted by such an event manifest themselves, embedded in the overall context of the Second World War? How are such experiences passed on within a family, from one generation to the next? How do historical events and the psyche interact in terms of the collective consciousness?
In a collaborative effort, experts in psychosomatics, historians and child psychologists seek to find to an answer to these complex questions. By means of interviews, questionnaires and interdisciplinary analysis they are exploring the mechanisms surrounding how such events are passed down within families and the subsequent effects up to the present day.
A research team in Hamburg led by psychoanalysts Dr. Ulrich Lamparter and Dr. Silke Wiegand-Grefe as well as contemporary historians Dr. Dorothee Wierling and Dr. Malte Thießen, has begun searching in the city for the gaps of land left by bombs where houses once stood, war bunkers and individuals and families affected by the firestorm.
PD Dr. Ulrich LamparterLocation
Dr. Silke Wiegand-Grefe
Prof. Dr. Dorothee Wierling