Under the name of “Wewelsburg 1933 – 1945: Cult and Terror Site of the SS”, the first historical exhibition was inaugurated in 1982 in the former guard building, documenting the activities of the SS at Wewelsburg and the history of the local concentration camp. This was preceded by a conflictual public debate in the 1970s about how the location dealt with its SS-related past following decades of silence and repression.
The new concept and extension of the memorial planned since the turn of the millennium considered the visitors’ demands for more detailed information about the world view and ideology of the SS. The historic town of Wewelsburg, which for twelve years was deeply characterised by the criminal and exaggerated self-image of the Schutzstaffel and its inhuman ideological concepts, was to become the location for an exhibition that would comprehensively document the general development of the SS and simultaneously become a place of memorial for the victims of SS violence.
The new concept commenced in 2000 with the “Planning Workshop for a Culture of Remembrance” under the patronage of Paul Spiegel, then President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. The scientific and interdisciplinary planning group for new design developed from this project in October 2003 under the direction of the former museum director Wulff E. Brebeck. In the summer of 2005, a scientific symposium on the topic of “Wewelsburg and the SS” was held at Wewelsburg Castle with international participation and a high level of response. In the same year the architectural practice Ikon from Hanover was commissioned with design of the new permanent exhibition, housed in the underground storeys of the former SS guard building.
A scientific advisory board with renowned historians and experts from the museum and memorial sector supported the research activities and exhibition preparations.
The exhibition “Ideology and Terror of the SS” in the new Wewelsburg 1933 – 1945 Memorial Museum was developed with support from the European Union, memorial site funding from the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe. The facility was opened with a ceremonial event on 15 April 2010.