11/27/2017

"Nothing is forgotten, and nobody!" Archives for the disability rights movement as a disability policy project

By Ulrike Lux

People with disabilities in Germany have been following the public debate on disability issues and the vicissitudes of disability policy for nearly 40 years now, accompanying them critically and emphatically in their own journals, commenting and discussing them. It would be a shame if the journals Krüppelzeitung, Luftpumpe and die randschau as well as other material such as brochures and discussion papers (the so-called “grey literature”) were lost in the mist of time. Instead, we intend to make them available to the interested public in a modern and easily perusable form.

The idea came from the editorial staff of the journal die randschau published on national scale from 1986 to 2000. Some of us have been politically active for up to four decades in various political contexts. The first of us have now reached pension age.
We keep being asked about old copies of the randschau. Of course, that makes us proud and happy. So we decided to get together once more for a project with the objective to create a “final repository” for our old issues – beyond crates and cardboard boxes on storage racks and cellars – by making them publicly available on the website archiv-behindertenbewegung.de. During our preliminary discussions it became apparent that we wished for a place to collect material about the history of the emancipatory disability movement.


Archival documents

Returning to our old habits from randschau times, we met for an editorial weekend in Marburg. It did not take us long to agree on the overall objective but orientation, content and structure required a little more thought.


“The focus is on documentation, making the material available for current discussion."
In further steps the following may be added
  • short introductions to key areas, in order to offer a context from today's point of view
  • further journals and brochures
  • book recommendations, scans of out of print books 
  • documents from the spectrum of the national forum of disability initiatives 
  • a register (thematic, possibly names)
  • links 
There should be a possibility to get in touch with the project team.
The proposals of running comments and of a blog were rejected since they would have required an non-viable measure of support and supervision. The future structure should leave room for future additions.”
(extract from the minutes of September 22nd- 24th, 2013)

This led to the concept of a basic structure for a website and to fairly closely defined ideas about the requisites for its technical implementation:
The available material (printed documents) is to be scanned with good resolution and converted in pdf format, in order to allow optical character recognition and the implementation of a search function. Regrettably, an optimally readable version for the blind exceeded the limits of the available budget.
No problem was seen in the inclusion of existing files / pdfs of more recent journals, some of them still appearing (such as the Newsletter Behindertenpolitik), and other materials and documents.

Monies left over from the federal forum of disability initiatives gave us the chance to implement this website autonomously, without having to fall back on the usual German funding structure (e.g. “Aktion Mensch”). With a small budget, but in complete independence and according to our own ideas, we started our project.

The oldest journal is the Krüppelzeitung - Zeitung von Krüppel für Krüppel (the Cripple Newspaper - by Cripples for Cripples), published from 1979 to 1985. It was founded mainly by the Bremer Krüppelgruppe and provided a critical counterpoint especially to the UN International Year of Disabled Persons 1981. For the first time in the German history of politically active people with disabilities, the Krüppelzeitung offered a forum that based on the radical demand for a development independent from non-disabled people and without sponsoring organisations. The project focussed on the search for a specific disabled identity. The first issue of the Krüppelzeitung (“KrÜZ”) defined content and aspirations of the project:

“Why is the journal called “Krüppelzeitung - Zeitung von Krüppel für Krüppel” (Cripple Journal - by Cripples for Cripples) and not "Journal for Disabled People”? It's not a question of names but of content. There is a reason why the trite but slightly more “objective" term "disabled person” is in common use today. Society adopted this language regimen in order to demonstrate a sham integration and partnership.
 The truth is: society, institutions, non-disabled people dominate us.”
(quoted from: Krüppelzeitung, issue 1/June 1979, pg. 3)

Other journals already available on the web-platform are:
  • Die Luftpumpe (published in all of Germany from March 1978 to 1986, from Cologne)
  • Die randschauZeitschrift für Behindertenpolitik (1986–2000, from 1998 with new editorial team)
  • Mondkalb - Zeitschrift für das organisierte Gebrechen (2007 - 2014)
  • as well as the currently published Newsletter - Behindertenpädagogik that appears as a regular supplement to the magazine Bioskop (since 2000)
In addition, the website features links to online archives of journals on disability policy in other countries (Puls, published in Austria from 1976 to 1994; Los, published in Switzerland from 1983 to 1992).

The intention of the archive team is to provide further material. At the moment, the book Krüppel-Tribunal and the poster of the journal die randschau are available for download. Whether in the future there will be photographs, flyers, posters and videos about the emancipatory spectrum of the German cripple and disabled movement available on the platform depends essentially on the willingness of former activists (and today's collectors) to provide them for publication. 

The archive team is a purely private initiative that intends to remain independent from public funding. The continued server operation, preparation of materials, visual and technical implementation require a financial contribution from the users, collected through the portal Leetchi.com.


"People with disabilities fighting for self-determination", Kassel 1987

Last but not least: We do not intend to be a virtual museum! 

Not mainly sentimental reasons prompted us to undertake this project. In view of the inflationary and often unthinking use of zeitgeist concepts like inclusion or participation in any desired context, our aim is to stay vigilant and to accompany current developments in disability policy and practice with a critical attitude – in particular, when our participation is requested, for example, in advisory boards, activity reports and action plans. Some of these products read like happy sunshine sales catalogues and, in doing so, tend to negate that exclusion, institutional violence, desolate housing conditions, lack of care/assistance, unemployment and poverty still are what characterises the daily life of many persons with disabilities.


poster of the journal die randschau

The archive Behindertenbewegung wants to offer the possibility to look back in order to sharpen our look on the ambivalence of current developments. It reminds us to be vigilant, maybe even bothersome. In this sense, we look forward to an intense use of the archive, to your feedback and, of course, to any new and old documents and materials you care to send us. 


translated by Giorgio Mauro


Recommended Citation:

Ulrike Lux (2017): "Nothing is forgotten, and nobody!" Archives for the disability rights movement as a disability policy project. In: Public Disability History 2 (2017) 19.









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