Mediating Disability History to a broader audience: An Institutional Approach
by Sebastian Weinert
|Guido von Donnersmarck sourrounded
by war invalids in Berlin-Frohnau
On the occasion of its 100th anniversary the management as well as the board of trustees decided to mediate the foundation’s history to a broader audience. Therefore a new Festschrift about the development of the organisation from 1916 until the recent days was commissioned. A similar project marked the occasion of the 75th anniversary 19913, but things have changed during the last 25 years. Not only did the organisation itself undergo drastic structural changes during the last decades, but the historical interest in the history of people with disability has also clearly increased in the new millennium. Research in Disability History has provided a new backdrop, helping us to better understand the history of this particular institution.4 Thus it was time for a new comprehensive monograph of the foundation’s history. After about one year of research and writing the study “100 Jahre Fürst Donnersmarck-Stiftung 1916-2016“ was published on 7th May 2016.5
|A gaze at a lecture in front of visitors of the Villa Donnersmarck in Berlin-Zehlendorf
But this didn’t mean that our goal of communicating the organisation’s past to a broader public was fulfilled. Since our target groups are considerably heterogeneous, ranging from people with multiple disabilities to our employees and even political or scientific stakeholders, we opted for a multi-level mediation process. In addition to the monograph we wrote an easy-to-read summary that first appeared in our magazine WIR and was later issued as a stand-alone booklet.6 Furthermore we curated an exhibition including plenty of audio-visual material and organised several lectures that aimed at various audiences. This means we spoke in front of an academic public, the guests of our hotels in Bad Bevensen and Rheinsberg as well as the visitors of our cultural center Villa Donnersmarck. In addition we conceived a special lecture for the clients with intellectual disabilities at our sheltered independent housing facility.
Last but not least we posted images and short texts using the hashtag #FDST100 on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter to remind the audience of important events that took place in the past. By doing so we managed to reach a considerable number of people from all parts of society. More than 700 people attended to the lectures and exhibition tours, the WIR is almost completely out of stock, and several employees, who all got a personalized copy of the Festschrift as gift, provided enthusiastic feedback about the book. The exhibition was shown in the Villa Donnersmarck, our two hotels and will be shown at our P.A.N. Centre for Post-Acute Neurorehabilitation. Furthermore the exhibition was on display during our anniversary celebration in the STATION-Berlin, which was attended by 1600 people.
|The exhibition about the history
of the FDST at the STATION-Berlin
Doing disability history is challenging, but also enriching. In our case we understand the organisation’s history mainly as a historical resource that gives us orientation in the present as well as a chance for giving people with disability the opportunity to get in contact with us and learn more about the organisation and its past.
Sebastian Weinert (2017): Mediating Disability History to a broader audience: An Institutional Approach. In: Public Disability History 2 (2017) 2.
 See Blackie, Daniel: Doing Public Disability History, in: Public Disability History 1 (2016) 16. Online: http://www.public-disabilityhistory.org/2016/09/doing-public-disability-history.html.↩
 See Manfred Rasch: Der Unternehmer Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck. Eine Skizze. Essen: Klartext 2016.↩
 See Golka, Thomas/Wieder, Horst: Geschichte der Fürst Donnersmarck-Stiftung 1916-1991, Berlin: Selbstverlag 1991.↩
 See e. g. Waldschmidt, Anne/Lingelbach, Gabriele (Hrsg.): Kontinuitäten, Zäsuren, Brüche? Lebenslagen von Menschen mit Behinderungen in der deutschen Zeitgeschichte, Frankfurt am Main: Campus 2016.↩
 See Weinert, Sebastian: 100 Jahre Fürst Donnersmarck-Stiftung 1916-2016, Berlin: Selbstverlag 2016.↩
 See Scharf, Bertold: Tagungsbericht: Kontinuitäten, Zäsuren, Brüche? Die Lebenslage von Menschen mit Behinderungen in Deutschland nach 1945: Periodisierungsfragen der deutschen Zeitgeschichte aus interdisziplinärer Perspektive, 20.03.2014 – 22.03.2014 Köln, in: H-Soz-Kult, 02.09.2014. Online: www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-5520.↩
 See WIR-Magazin (2016) 1. Online: http://www.fdst.de/w/files/wir_pdf/wir_2016_01_160208_final_tags.pdf.↩