Fotoeins Fotografie

photography as worlds between words

Posts tagged ‘Holocaust’

IHolocaustdenkmal, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: observations from Germany

Primo Levi, Italian-Jewish author, chemist, and Auschwitz survivor, delivered a set of essays about life and survival in Nazi extermination camps in his 1986 book “The Drowned and the Saved”. Levi wrote:

… For us to speak with the young becomes even more difficult. We see it as a duty and, at the same time, as a risk: the risk of appearing anachronistic, of not being listened to. We must be listened to: above and beyond our personal experiences, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental, unexpected event, fundamental precisely because unexpected, not foreseen by anyone. It took place in the teeth of all forecasts; it happened in Europe; incredibly, it happened that an entire civilized people, just issued from the fervid cultural flowering of Weimar, followed a buffoon whose figure today inspires laughter, and yet Adolf Hitler was obeyed and his praises were sung right up to the catastrophe. It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.

On 27 January 1945, Soviet Red Army troops liberated the Nazi concentration and extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau in south-central Poland. Over 1 million men, women, and children were murdered.

The United Nations declared January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day; the designation came during the 42nd plenary session of the United Stations when resolution 60/7 was passed on 1 November 2005.

Accepting and openly stating responsibility are critical first steps, but spending time, money, and effort to ensure the simple motto of “never again” is also an ongoing reality that isn’t solely up to the citizens of Germany. It’s a collective responsibility that we all should have to remain vigilant; that we all have to recognize and bolster actions which encourage and strengthen the universality of human rights, and reject the erosion and withdrawal of those rights.

I also believe responsible tourism includes paying appropriate respect at a memorial, especially the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. It’s my view this important memorial is not (supposed to be) a playground.

And yet, there’s something to be said about freedom in the early 21st-century which allows people to laugh and frolic in the public space, an undulating sculpture of featureless massive grey cement blocks, a testimonial to the systematic murder of millions of people.

Naturally, you have the freedom to take selfies and play here. But it doesn’t mean I’m gonna laugh with you.

•   Yolocaust art project, DW 2017.

( Click here for more )

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Fotoeins Friday: Intl. Holocaust Remembrance Day (2017)

January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day:

•   United Nations
•   Yad Vashem
•   US Holocaust Memorial Museum

Outside the Old Jewish Cemetery near Hackesche Höfe in Berlin’s Spandauer Vorstadt is Will Lammert’s sculpture “Jüdische Opfer des Faschismus” (Jewish victims of fascism). The sculpture shows men, women, and children with horror and despair on their faces, directly confronting visitors with an equally direct question: “why?”

More from me in Berlin

•   City’s oldest Jewish cemetery
•   Grunewald train station, track 17
•   Memorial to murdered Jews in Europe
•   Memorial to murdered Sinti and Roma

I made this photograph on 21 November 2012 with the Canon EOS450D, 18-55 kit-lens, and the following settings: 1/25s, f/5, ISO800, and 28mm focal length (45mm full-frame equivalent). This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-8WN.

Berlin Grunewald: no train will ever leave track 17

Present in the vicinity of a train station are very distinct and familiar sounds: the racket of heavy locomotives chugging down the rail and the screech of high-friction braking. A breeze sweeps through two columns of trees, creating a low keening sound which escapes into the open space beyond. To stop and listen, the sounds could easily be human: faint shouts and cries. Are they tricks of the mind, or are the dead speaking? The spectre of cruelty, despair, and suffering clings to the abandoned track; seven decades in the past don’t seem very far.

On a cool grey late-autumn afternoon, I’m on an S-Bahn train heading towards Potsdam. Beyond the limits of the “Stadtbahn” and one stop beyond the “Ring” at Westkreuz, the train pulls into the former goods and freight station at Grunewald. Dropping into the underground passage, signage points to the memorial at track 17. I leave the station by the southeast exit, and turn left to ascend the ramp along the side street.

In the Berlin borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Grunewald station lies on the S7 S-Bahn line serving central Berlin city, the city of Potsdam to the southwest, and Ahrensfelde to the northeast in the Berlin borough of Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Grunewald station began operation in 1879 under its original name Hundekehle named after a nature reserve nearby. The station changed its name to “Grunewald” in 1884 when the old Grunewald station began its new life as “Halensee” station. Grunewald station and its tracks were incorporated into Berlin’s S-Bahn train network in 1928.

Many companies including the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Imperial Rail) were actively complicit in the machinery of mass murder during Nazi rule. After reunification of East and West Germany in 1990, the two separate railways also merged to form Deutsche Bahn in 1994, and calls arose for the new company to acknowledge its dark past. To mark the Reichbahn’s collaboration in deporting people to camps and their deaths, present-day Deutsche Bahn AG established a memorial at track 17. Inaugurated in 1998 the memorial was designed and built by architects Hirsch, Lorch, and Wandel who were very mindful of the 1991 Karol Broniatowski memorial near the station’s entrance.

Along track 17, metal plates have been inserted, one for every transport train which took Berlin’s Jews to their deaths. Each plate includes the transport date, the number of people deported, and the transport’s destination. The first train of record departed Grunewald on 1941 October 18 when 1251 Jews were deported to Łódź. Another plate marks the last train of record (so far) leaving Grunewald on 1945 March 27 when 18 Jews were deported to Theresienstadt; blank plates leave room for additional commemorations with new uncovered information. More than 50-thousand Jews from Berlin were deported from this station alone. The first set of trains went to concentration-camps in eastern Europe, but by the end of 1942, trains were directed to Auschwitz and Theriesenstadt.

The vegetation that’s been left to grow around the track over the years is a visible symbol and an unspoken promise to all: that no train will leave track 17 ever again.


Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Grunewald station, underground passage to track 17

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Track 17: in commemoration to people who were deported to death camps on Deutsche Reichsbahn trains, 1941-1945. Erected by Deutsche Bahn AG.

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Southeast entrance with signage to the memorial. At top, the weather-vane is in the shape of a locomotive.

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Zum Gedenken an die mehr als 50.000 Juden Berlins, die zwischen Oktober 1941 und Februar 1945 vorwiegend vom Güterbahnhof Grunewald aus durch den nationalsozialistischen Staat in seine Vernichtungslager deportiert und ermordet wurden. Zur Mahnung an uns, jeder Missachtung des Lebens und der Würde des Menschen mutig und ohne Zögern entgegenzutreten. In memory of the more than 50-thousand Berlin Jews deported between October 1941 and February 1945, most of whom were sent from the Grunewald station by the Nazis to extermination camps and murdered. This is our warning: to maintain basic human dignity, to oppose all blatant disregard for life with courage and without hesitation. (by Karol Broniatowski, 1991)

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Memorial by Karol Broniatowski, 18 October 1991: bronze plaque (above) and concrete wall with hollowed out imprints of human bodies

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

A little further …

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

First sight of track 17

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Metal slabs surround both sides of track 17

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

1st metal plate: 1st recorded train on 1941 October 18: 1251 Jews deported from Berlin to Łódź

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Last” metal plate: train on record leaving 1945 March 27: 18 Jews deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Unused buildings

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Far end of the memorial

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Germany and Israel. Near the former signal building, this bronze plaque in both Hebrew and German was unveiled on 3 April 1987.

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Hebrew inscription: memorial to the victims of extermination. German inscription: In memory of the tens of thousands of Jewish citizens of Berlin, who were deported by the Nazis between October 1941 and February 1945 from here to death camps and murdered. (“Zum Gedenken an zehntausende jüdische Bürger Berlins, die ab Oktober 1941 bis Februar 1945 von hier aus durch die Nazi-Henker in die Todeslager deportiert und ermordet wurden.”)

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

 

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

 

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

The track to nowhere

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

End of the line

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

 

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at platform 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

No train will leave this track ever again


More:

•   Deutsche Bahn, track 17 memorial: in English | auf Deutsch
•   Memorial Museums, in English
•   “In the field of stelae” (Holocaust memorial in central Berlin), in English
•   Memorial to Sinti and Roma Murdered by Nazis, in English
•   Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf borough, city-state of Berlin, in German
•   Berlin city portal, in German


S-Bahn station Grunewald is about 20 minutes from Berlin central station with the S-Bahn S7 train, direction (Richtung) Potsdam. Open to the elements and free of charge, the memorial is accessed either from the underground passage inside the station or from the street ramp outside; follow the signs for “Mahnmal Gleis 17” (Memorial at track 17).

I made the photos above on 7 December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7vx.

Alter Synagogenplatz, Altstadt, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

My Heidelberg: Synagogue Square and Pogromnacht

It happens every time without fail.

My spirit breaks a little more every time I see a memorial, another example of the depths to which our species have plumbed.

Does feeling this way make me weak? Or am I resembling a human being after all?

Broken Glass

On 9-10 November 1938, Kristallnacht (“the night of broken glass”) was a well-organized “pogrom”, a series of violent attacks by Nazis against Jews and their property in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslavakia’s Sudetenland. “Pogromnacht” (or Reichspogromnacht) is a truer description; the “prettier sounding” Kristallnacht hides the brutality of “the night of (broken) crystal” referring to broken shattered glass from windows to synagogues, homes, and stores owned by Jews.

The numbers were appalling: at least 90 dead, 30000 arrested and detained in camps, over 200 synagogues burned, and over 7000 Jewish businesses damaged or destroyed. The outbreak of coordinated actions against Jews marked the beginning of state-sanctioned violence. With the Pogromnacht, the state opened the door to undisguised escalation of savagery: a turning point directly leading to the Holocaust.

Heidelberg’s Old Synagogue

In the university town of Heidelberg, the earliest recorded presence of Jews dates back to the 13th-century. Jews gathered in what is now the Old Town and converted the building they were using into a synagogue in the early 18th-century; the community built a new synagogue at the same site in the late 19th-century.

The synagogue did not escape violence and was burned to the ground. Alter Synagogenplatz or Old Synagogue Square is all that remains today with memorial plaques; the names of people arrested, deported, and killed; the outline of the synagogue’s walls in white marble; the entrance and windows marked in grey granite; and twelve sandstone cubes representing pews and the twelve tribes of Israel.

Alter Synagogenplatz, Heidelberg, Germany

A memorial at the square is dedicated to the Jewish community who once thrived in Heidelberg’s Old Town. Information at the “Site of the Heidelberg synagogue, 1714-1938” provided by the City of Heidelberg reads:

Jews have lived in Heidelberg since the 13th century, in spite of having been subject to oppression and persecution time and again. In 1714, the “Blue Lily” house situated on this site was converted to a synagogue. In 1878, the community built a new synagogue in contemporary style.

On the night of 9-10 November 1938, Nazi storm troopers set fire to the synagogue. In 1939, the Jewish community was ordered to pay for the demolition of its ruined synagogue.

On 22 October 1940, the Jews of Baden and the Palatinate were deported to Gurs camp in Southern France. Only few of them survived the Shoah. Between 1941 and 1945, more Jews from the area were deported straight to the death camps.

After the end of the war in April 1945, a Jewish community was re-established in Heidelberg. The present-day synagogue is situated in the Weststadt city district, at 10-12 Häusserstrasse. It was inaugruated in 1994.

During the renovation of this square in 2001, white marble cobbles were used to mark the outline of the synagogue. The memorial stone marks the location of the Ark.

A new Jewish community centre and synagogue were inaugurated in Heidelberg’s Weststadt in 1994. There are now brass “Stolpersteine” or “stumbling stones” with names acknowledging Jews who once lived in Heidelberg.

Alter Synagogenplatz, Heidelberg, Germany

“Here on 10 November 1938 the Heidelberg synagogue was destroyed by criminal hands.”
Alter Synagogenplatz, Altstadt, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

(HL photo, 19 Sep 2017)


Alter Synagogenplatz (Old Synagogue Square) is located in Heidelberg’s Altstadt (Old Town) at the corner of Lauerstrasse and Grosse Mantelgasse.

Except for the last photo, I made all of the photos above on 26 November 2006 with a Canon Powershot A510. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3Ze.

Postscript:

•   A number of German historians set up the website, 9nov38.de, to highlight events before, during, and after the pogroms of 9-10 November 1938; the website is in German.

•   Thanks to Enchanted Seashells for their post.

•   2013 marked the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, and BBC News posed the question of whether anti-Semitism was on the rise in Europe. Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlander recently returned to her hometown of Berlin, where she has her own “Stolperstein”; she spoke to NPR about remembering Kristallnacht.

Berlin’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery (Spandauer Vorstadt)

“Der Jüdische Friedhof in der Grossen Hamburger Strasse”

In the past, I’ve often felt guilty for taking photographs at a cemetery, as if the act of opening and closing the camera’s shutter somehow “exposes and steals” the essence of people who are laid to rest. Only in the last few years have I overcome these feelings, as I now see cemeteries as beautiful places to visit and to witness frozen snapshots to individual lives over time. On this late-autumn afternoon, I stood in the middle of the garden, transported to a different place and a different time, surrounded by tranquility and living memories.

Große Hamburger Straße (or Greater Hamburg Street) was the key central road in what was once the Spandauer Vorstadt, which was the suburb or town at the foot of the former Berlin city gates. The road allowed for trade and movement from Berlin in the direction towards the nearby town of Spandau.

According to berlin.de, the area developed around the Hackesche Market and Courtyards:

Historically, development of the Höfe went hand in hand with the growth of Berlin as a thriving urban centre. The expansion started around 1700 from an outer suburb known as Spandauer Vorstadt, located outside the Spandau City gate which already had its own church, the Sophienkirche as early as 1712. Friedrich Wilhelm I built a new city wall here and the former suburb became a new urban district belonging to Berlin. Today’s Hackescher Markt takes its name from the market built here by a Spandau city officer, Count von Hacke.

The influx of Jewish migrants and the exiled French Huguenots gave the district the cosmopolitan diversity which it never lost. The first synagogue was built in this area and the first Jewish cemetery established on the Grosse Hamburger Strasse. Another name for the area, the Scheunenviertel (barn district) is associated today with up and coming art galleries and the more bohemian side of Berlin. The largest synagogue in Germany was built in nearby Oranienburger Strasse in 1866.

In use from 1672 to 1827, this is Berlin’s oldest cemetery for the Jewish community. Buried here is Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), philosopher, a founding father of the Jewish Enlightenment, and grandfather to the great composer Felix Mendelssohn. During the last stages of fighting in the Second World War, 2425 dead were buried here in 16 mass graves. With no clear boundaries separating those buried in the past from those buried during the war, the new memorial garden was constructed and restored in 2007-08 with all of the buried left undisturbed as they were.

The present location was also the site of the first nursing home in 1844 for the Jewish community in Berlin. The Gestapo transformed the home in 1942 to a collection and staging point for prisoners, and ordered the destruction of the entire site in 1943. 55000 Berlin Jews from infants to the elderly were deported and murdered in the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Theresienstadt.

I also wrote about the “Shalechet” (Fallen Leaves) sculpture installation at the Jewish Museum Berlin.


Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Moses Mendelssohn

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Moses Mendelssohn

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

In memory of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

In memory

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Wrongs to be righted

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Sophienkirche at right

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Graves on top of graves

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Jüdische Opfer des Faschismus” (Jewish victims of fascism), by Will Lammert

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Once a home to seniors, then a place for staging and deporting

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Front gate to Fernsehturm

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Nie wieder. Never again.


Directions

Visitors can reach the Old Jewish Cemetery with the MetroTram (M1, M4, M5) to Monbijouplatz; Strassenbahn 12 to Monbijouplatz; S-Bahn (S3, S5, S7, S9) to Hackescher Markt; S-Bahn (S1, S2, S25, S26) to Oranienburger Strasse; or the U-Bahn (U8) to Weinmeisterstrasse. After disembarking the train or tram at any of these stations, it’s a short walk to the cemetery which is located next to the Sophienkirche church.

In Berlin-Mitte at Spandauer Strasse 68 (at Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse) a memorial plaque marks the location of the house where Moses Mendelssohn and his family lived; see also articles in German Berliner Morgenpost (3 May 2015) and Süddeutsche Zeitung (16 June 2016).

I made the photos above on 21 November 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-2MX.

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