Holocaust Train Passes Through Berlin

A vintage 1921 locomotive train hauling four carriages arrived in Berlin Ostbahnhof station earlier this week, its cargo not passengers but rather haunting images and poignant last letters of the child victims of the Holocaust.

'The Train of Commemoration' left Frankfurt Station in November 2007 on a six month journey that will eventually take it to thirty German cities before arriving in Auschwitz, the death camp established by the Nazis in Poland, for the 63rd anniversary of VE day.

An estimated 1.5 million children were transported by the former German state railway, the Reichsbahn, to the concentration camps where fewer than 10 per cent survived. The exhibition details both the logistics of the genocide and personal experiences of the time, and includes Reichsbahn maps, chronologies, laws & regulations, official documents, as well as letters, drawings and poems from some of the unfortunate passengers on what was doomed to be a one way trip.

Despite the instrumental role the Reichsbahn played in the Holocaust - providing the principal means of transport from the ghettos to the death camps - their modern day successor, Deutsch Bahn refused permission for the 'Train of Commemoration' to stop at Berlin's Hauptbahnhof station, despite intervention from the city mayor, arguing that the exhibition would cause major disruptions. They also initially asked 70,000 Euros for use of their rail network before the German government urged them to drop the fee. Some have argued that this is a prime example of German companies failing to acknowledge their murky past and cooperation with the Nazis.


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United States

A freind of mine from germany 95% of Germans are sick of hearing about the war. Well that's too damn bad. You have to carry the burdon your Grandfathers left on you. Though one might say it is best to tread lightly on subject in order not to offend Germans, the rest of the world does not see it that way. Germany put Earth through hell and we are not about to forget, nor will we allow Germany to forget it either.

Reply May 7th, 2008
United States

Yes, this is shameful. However, if you are in Germany, you need to tread VERY lightly in asking questions about the time of the Third Reich, as nearly every German has some family history intertwined with this period, which they would prefer to forget and obliterate. That probably means: Don't ask! Tom Cruise may be able to hang Swastika flags for a film--but most Germans have never seen one because they have been prohibited from sale, display, or collecting since 1945.

Reply Apr 19th, 2008