Zug der Erinnerung
Ein Projekt deutscher Bürgerinitiativen
The German citizens' initiative "Train of Commemoration" and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki addressed a joint letter to the Board of Management of the Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG). The DB AG, as the historical heir of the Nazi Reichsbahn, is being called upon to "reimburse in full" the receipts taken in the course of the anti-Semitic mass deportations from occupied Greece.
In 1943, the Nazi Reichsbahn deported more than 58,000 Jewish Greeks to the death camps of Auschwitz and Treblinka, among them 12,000 small children and adolescents. The victims faced immediate death in the gas chambers. Only few survived.
The Reichsbahn made at least 570 freight cars available for transporting en masse Thessaloniki's Jewish residents to their deaths. Other criminal transports were used to carry the Jewish communities of Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, and Ioannina.
The Reichsbahn charged for its services in murder. The state-owned company made at least 2.3 million reichsmark in receipts from the victims and their representative bodies, according to the joint letter to Rüdiger Grube, DB CEO.
At today's purchasing power – including the 2.5% interests; accumulated since 1943 – this would correspond to a total of 89,455,280.00 Euros (eighty-nine million, four hundred fifty-five thousand, two hundred eighty Euros). This must be reimbursed fully – and unconditionally – to Thessaloniki's Jewish Community, the legal representative of those who were murdered.
In their letter, the "Train of Commemoration" and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki make reference to the example set by the French state-owned railway, the Société des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF).
On December 4, 2014, the French state awarded an individual compensation to the survivors and their heirs for the receipts made by the SNCF during its complicity in German mass deportations to the death camps. The SNCF has also pledged to make payments to memorials and civil society organizations to help keep the memory alive.
The joint letter anwers retorts to possible objections by pointing to the legal obligations of the Federal Republic of Germany – the sole proprietor of the DB AG and heir to all receipts accrued in the course of the commission of those crimes.
According to a decision handed down by the Constitutional Court of Italy on October 22, 2014, Greek victims of the Nazis may pursue their legal claim to German state property in Italy, even if they had been unsuccessful in this endeavor in their own country.
The joint letter also mentions other aspects of the internationally engaged Deutsche Bahn subsidiary "DB Schenker ," which is doing business also in the USA, without its historical background having drawn attention. "DB Schenker " is the successor of the Nazi company "Schenker," which had been significantly involved in plundering Jewish property throughout occupied Europe, Thessaloniki included. "Schenker" has never reimbursed the receipts resulting from this plunder.
In this year of the 70th Anniversary of Europe's liberation from Nazi barbarism, the "Train of Commemoration" and the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki hope that a consensual accord can be reached with the Deutsche Bahn AG and the government of the Federal Republic of Germany.
To add emphasis to this aspired accord, the "Train of Commemoration" calls on German and international civil society to "take a stand in favor of the Greek victims" and "sign a common appeal publicly demanding the unconditional payment of the debts."
Spokesperson for the Presidium,
"Train of Commemoration"
Please take note of the enclosed photographic documents
Deportation der Juden von Ioannina per Lastwagen nach Larissa (25. März 1944) und von dort per Reichsbahn nach Auschwitz.
Deportation from Ioannina to Larissa by truck (March 25th, 1944) and from Larissa to Auschwitz in German Reichsbahn's cattle cars.
Quelle/ File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-179-1575-08
Deutsche Fahrkarten für die Massendeportationen der Reichsbahn von Griechenland nach Auschwitz.
German Reichsbahn's railtickets from Greece to death in Auschwitz (1943/1944)
Quelle/ File: Staatliches Polnisches Museum Auschwitz
February 12, 2015
The German Reichsbahn charged the Greek Jewish population for their mass deportation to Auschwitz what today is equivalent to more than 75 million Euros. This amount has never been reimbursed to the murder victims, according to an expertise established on behalf of the NGO, the "Train of Commemoration." The Deutsche Bahn AG and its owner, the Federal Republic of Germany, are liable for these millions in debts, declares the "Train of Commemoration."
According to this non-profit association's calculations, the more than 48,000 deportees from the city of Thessaloniki, alone, had been forced to pay the equivalent of 64 million Euros in train fares. Their abduction had been carried out between March and August 1943. In a major logistical operation, the accomplices to these murders, the Deutsche Reichsbahn, had assembled 19 transports of around 30 sealed freight cars. Each person had to pay the equivalent of 33 reichsmark. Upon arrival at Auschwitz, the abductees were sent directly to the gas chamber and murdered, with but few escaping this predicament, because they were needed as slave labor.
The Jewish communities in Ioannina and on the islands of Corfu and Rhodes fell victim to other mass murder operations. Upon arrival by ships and trucks, the Deutsche Reichsbahn transported these 10,000 abductees also to the gas chambers. According to the "Train of Commemoration's" calculations the amount extorted from these victims would today correspond to another 11 million Euros (including 2.5% interests since the end of the war).
Both the Deutsche Bahn AG – the historical successor of the Deutsche Reichsbahn – and the legal debtor (the Federal Republic of Germany) refuse to reimburse the extorted receipts obtained through this complicity to murder to the few remaining survivors.
The German Ministry of Finances is still withholding additional millions in ransoms extorted from Thessaloniki's Jewish community. Claiming "non-jurisdiction," the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has abdicated acceptance of the lawsuit filed by Thessaloniki's Jewish community.
In the "Train of Commemoration's" recent letter addressed to the President of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, David Saltiel, it was declared:
"We are ashamed of the fact that the heirs of the criminals have obstinately refused to face up to the material consequences of the crimes. (...) Those, who refuse, are not speaking in our names. We deplore the legalistic tricks the Federal Republic of Germany is using to avoid meeting the justified demands of your community." The "Train of Commemoration" appeals to German civil society to "take a stand with the Greek victims and publicly demand the unconditional reimbursement of these debts."
The "Train of Commemoration" appeals to German civil society to "take a stand with the Greek victims and publicly demand the unconditional reimbursement of these debts."
Spokesperson for the Board of Directors
"Train of Commemoration"
mob. +49-171-190 5050
February 12, 2015
Για τον μαζικό εκτοπισμό των Εβραίων από την Ελλάδα στο Άουσβιτς η Γερμανική Reichsbahn επέβαλλε εισιτηρίο σημερινής αξίας περίπου 75 εκατομμύρίων ευρώ. Σύμφωνα με με μια πρόσφατη έκθεση της μη κυβερνητικής οργάνωσης «Τρένο της μνήμης", το ποσό αυτό δεν εξοφλήθηκε ποτέ στα θύματα. Υπόχρεοι ως οφειλέτες του ποσού των 75 εκατομμυρίων, είναι η γερμανική κρατική εταιρία σιδηροδρόμων Bahn AG και ο ιδιοκτήτης της, η Ομοσπονδιακή Δημοκρατία της Γερμανίας, αναφέρει το "Τρένο της μνήμης ".
Σύμφωνα με τους υπολογισμούς της Οργάνωσης, οι αξιώσεις μόνο των 48.000 εκτοπισθέντων Εβραίων της Θεσσαλονίκης ανέρχεται στα 64 Εκατομμύρια ευρώ. Ο εκτοπισμός τους έλαβε χώρα μεταξύ Μάρτιου και Αύγουστου 1943. Σε μια μεγάλη επιχείρηση, ο συνεργός στους δολοφονικούς εκτοπισμούς, Deutsche Reichsbahn έκανε 19 μεταφορές με κάθε φορά περίπου 30 κλειδωμένα φορτηγά βαγόνια. Ανά άτομο έπρεπε να καταβληθούν 33 ράιχσμαρκ. Οι εκτοπισθέντες δολοφονήθηκαν αμέσως μετά την άφιξή τους στο Άουσβιτς με αέριο. Μόνο λίγοι απέφυγαν το θάνατο επειδή χρησιμοποιήθηκαν ως σκλάβοι.
Επιπλέον δολοφονικές επιχειρήσεις αφορούσαν στις εβραϊκές κοινότητες των Ιωαννίνων και στα νησιά Κέρκυρα και Ρόδο. Μετά την μεταφορά τους με πλοία και φορτηγά ανέλαβε η γερμανική Reichsbahn την εκτόπιση περίπου 10.000 ατόμων τους οποίους επίσης μετέφερε στα γερμανικά στρατόπεδα συγκέντρωσης. Σύμφωνα με τους υπολογισμούς της μη κυβερνητικής οργάνωσης "Τρένο της μνήμης" η σημερινή αξία του ποσού που εξαναγκάστηκαν να πληρώσουν αυτοί οι μελλοθάνατοι ανέρχεται στα 11 εκατομμύρια Ευρώ (συμπερ. Επιτόκιο 2,5% από το τέλος του πολέμου).
Τόσο η γερμανική Bahn AG, ως ιστορικός διάδοχος της Reichsbahn όσο και ο, από νομικής άποψης οφειλέτης, (η Ομοσπονδιακή Δημοκρατία της Γερμανίας) αρνούνται να επιστρέψουν στους λίγους επιζώντες τα έσοδα (κέρδος) από την βοήθεια για τη δολοφονία.
Επίσης, το γερμανικό Υπουργείο Οικονομικών παρακρατεί τα επιπλέον εκατομμύρια λύτρα που πήρε εκβιαστικά από την εβραϊκή κοινότητα της Θεσσαλονίκης. Μια αντίστοιχη αγωγή της κοινότητας εναντία στο Βερολίνο, στο Ευρωπαϊκό Δικαστήριο το Δεκεμβρίου 2014, απορρίφτηκε λόγω «μη αρμοδιότητας».
Σε μια πρόσφατη επιστολή της οργάνωσης “Τρένο της μνήμης” προς τον πρόεδρο της Εβραϊκής κοινότητας Θεσσαλονίκης, Δαβίδ Σαλτιέλ, αναφέρεται:
"Ντρεπόμαστε για την πεισματική άρνηση των κληρονόμων των θυτών να μην καλύψει τις υλικές συνέπειες των εγκλημάτων. (...) Όποιος αρνείται να αποζημιώσει τα θύματα δεν μιλάει στο όνομά μας. Αποδοκιμάζουμε τα νομικά τεχνάσματα με τα οποία η Ομοσπονδιακή Δημοκρατία της Γερμανίας αντιμετωπίζει τα δίκαια αιτήματα της κοινότητάς σας.”
Το «Τρένο της μνήμης" καλεί τη γερμανική κοινωνία των πολιτών, "να πάρει δημόσια θέση υπέρ των Ελλήνων θυμάτων και να απαιτήσει την άνευ όρων αποπληρωμή του χρέους. "
“Τρένο της μνήμης”
mob. +49-171-190 5050
The Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) is charging tariffs of over 10,000 Euros for the commemoration of the thousands of small children and youth, who had been taken in mass transports in the month of June 70 years ago, from the Nazi-occupied Netherlands to the Sobibór Nazi extermination camp. The DB AG has already deprived the "Train of Commemoration" of 40,000 Euros in tariffs to commemorate Nazi victims and refuses reimbursement. "This money is needed for the memorial ceremonies of the 'Reichsbahn's' deportations from the Netherlands to be held at German train stations over the next few months," the "Train of Commemoration" citizens' initiative explains in a press statement.
Mass abductions carried out in May and June 1943 were the culmination of deportations from the Netherlands. They departed every Tuesday from the Nazi Westerbork "transit camp."
One thousand, two hundred and sixty-nine Jewish small children and youth were put on trains in Westerbork, June 8, 1943. The "Reichsbahn's" 46 wagon-fatal transport lasted three days. In sealed freight cars, the victims were carried across Germany to eastern Poland, where the deportees were submitted to firing squads or gas chambers immediately upon arrival. The 1,269 children in the June transports included children of German emigrants from Berlin, Brandenburg, Frankfurt am Main, Hannover, and Dortmund. None of these children survived Sobibór.
Ceremonies commemorating the 70th Anniversary of this deportation will be held in the Netherlands, in Poland and in the Czech Republic. Because several US American citizens were among the deportees, these commemorations also concern US diplomatic missions. "In the Federal Republic of Germany, the successor enterprise of the accomplice to this murder, the Deutsche Bahn AG, is engaged in an indirect commemoration boycott. The DB AG is demanding payments for permission to commemorate the victims of Sobibór. The 'Train of Commemoration' is obliged to pay," reports the press statement.
The DB AG turned these payments (for rental of tracks and space at stations) over to a federal foundation under the auspices of the German Ministry of Finances. The DB AG explicitly stipulated that this money is not be accorded to the "Train of Commemoration," even though it had originated with this citizens' initiative. The federal foundation has even refused to approve an application for a grant to finance the train retracing the deportation route in May and June.
"The DB AG has coordinated these measures with the Ministry of Transportation. The owner of the Deutsche Bahn AG – the German government in Berlin – is the one responsible for this boycott," according to the press statement.
In spite of considerable financial problems, the citizens' initiative will pay their last respects to the
children murdered in Sobibór, at least, at ten train stations along the route, during the months of
May and June. The "Train of Commemoration" is cooperating in this project with the German
initiative, "Child Survivors" and several Dutch organizations representing victims of the Nazis.
The Nazi "Reichsbahn's" successor, the Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG), is facing a wave of
lawsuits by several thousand victims of Nazi mass deportations. A survivor, who was 17 years
old, when he was captured in the Ukraine and was later deported by the Nazi "Reichsbahn"
to Germany, where he served as forced laborer, is the first plaintiff.
The lawsuit was filed, under condition of financial aid for court costs, December 31, 2012, in
Frankfurt am Main. The "Reichsbahn's" victims' have been seeking a consensual agreement for
settling their claims for years, but the DB AG has consistently refused. The DB AG considers itself
guiltless, because it was founded only in 1994.
Alongside the DB AG, the German Lufthansa is also implicated in the lawsuit. The
Lufthansa's predecessor, the Nazi "Lufthansa," forced the Ukrainian plaintiff to work in
labor battalions, after his abduction to Germany. The plaintiff argues that both Nazi
enterprises (the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" and "Deutsche Lufthansa") were accomplices in the
crimes, by knowingly committing mass deportations to provide cheap labor for the German
As stated in the text of the lawsuit, under the Nazis, the "Lufthansa" used even deported children,
who, because of their small size, were made to do the riveting work in the close quarters of the wing
sections. The "Reichsbahn" transported hundreds of thousands children and youth, who did not
qualify for similar work, to concentration and extermination camps, where they were murdered.
The 88-year-old plaintiff is demanding that the DB AG pay damages of at least 200 thousand
Euros and sets the Nazi "Lufthansa" a back wage of 26 Euros for each hour that he had been
forced to work.
In the past, similar claims had been denied because the defendant company had paid into the
Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" fund, created by the German industry. The
plaintiff casts doubt on this foundation. On various occasions, the foundation has been accused of
being engaged in a sort of sale of indulgences at the expense of the Nazis' victims. Most recently,
the presidium of the foundation was criticized for its alleged collaboration with the Deutsche Bahn
Independently of this suit in Frankfurt, the "Reichsbahn's" victims are initiating a class
action lawsuit in the USA.
Members of the U.S. Congress are preparing a bill to oblige Nazi enterprises' successor
companies to publicly declare the receipts acquired through complicity in Nazi crimes. If they
refuse redemption, the companies will not be allowed to bid for government contracts. Since
the DB AG is a leading enterprise in the USA, it would be directly affected by this resolution.
According to "Train of Commemoration" calculations, the DB AG's property funds include
at least 445 million Euros (current value) from its complicity in Nazi crimes. With interest,
this would correspond to more than 2 billion Euros.
The "Train of Commemoration" is appealing to EU parliamentarians from regions, where the former "Deutsche Reichsbahn" had carried out deportations, to engage in joint protests against the way the Deutsche Bahn AG, the largest logistics enterprise in Europe, is treating the victims of Nazi persecution. The appeal is aimed also at public opinion in France, Poland, Italy, Greece and the countries of the former USSR.
For more than four years, the "Train of Commemoration" has been traveling with a mobile exhibition through train stations in Europe, where the "Reichsbahn" had passed on its way to Nazi camps transporting deportees. "The predecessor of today's Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) headquartered in Berlin, had transported 3 million people from all over Europe to their deaths. The DB AG is not only seeking to evade the obligations incurred by this massive crime, but is again making profit from it," writes the "Train of Commemoration" in a declaration published in several languages.
For years, the DB AG has been demanding high fees for permits to hold commemoration ceremonies for the victims of its predecessor's crimes. "Since 2009, alone," the "Train of Commemoration" has had to pay the DB AG "more than 50 thousand Euros (for use of the tracks and technical railroad facilities)." A reimbursement, which had been the subject of mediation talks with Jewish organizations, has now been definitively rejected by the Deutsche Bahn AG. The DB AG justifies its financial demands for the commemoration of the victims of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" by evoking "European laws." This allegation is "dubious," according to an expertise of the German Bundestag.
"The DB AG now even refuses cooperation to allow the commemoration of prominent Jewish deportees," explains the "Train of Commemoration." In September, for example, the DB AG refused to waiver rail rental costs for the commemoration ceremonies for Julius Hirsch, a prominent soccer player on the German national team, who had been murdered in Auschwitz. The DB AG is in fact staging a boycott.
"Our appeal for actions by EU parliamentarians and mass petitions addressed to the German Bundestag is not only for the sake of those who have died," writes the "Train of Commemoration." It is just as urgent that the survivors of the 'Reichsbahn's' crimes receive reparations." But the DB AG puts up a stubborn resistance, when it comes to paying back the financial heritage to the victims of the "Reichsbahn's" deportations, which is why international lawsuits are "foreseeable and inevitable." In the USA, class action lawsuits are in preparation. According to an expertise commissioned by the "Train of Commemoration," the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" took in at least 445 million Euros (current value) in receipts through its criminal deportations. With interests included, its debt for deportation is more than 2 billion Euros. The DB AG has "not even paid 0.1 percent" of this debt. The company is "boasting of alleged donations, amounting to only a fraction of its criminal heritage," declares the "Train of Commemoration." At the international level, the "Train of Commemoration" is seeking to activate a common initiative of all EU parliament members, "who have not forgotten the mass-scale crime of the 'Reichsbahn's' deportations and the millionfold suffering of their compatriots, who were murdered." To the "Reichsbahn's" victims living in the USA, the "Train of Commemoration" addresses the request that they "induce the Deutsche Bahn AG and its US subsidiaries to divulge as much information as possible on this millionfold criminal heritage."
Contact for the Press: 0049 171-190 5050
The "Train of Commemoration" is comprised of several railroad cars with an exhibition on the deported youth from all over Europe, transported by the "Reichsbahn." A steam locomotive pulls the cars. So far, the train has had stopovers in more than 100 stations, including those located in Poland and in the German/French border areas. Up to October 2011, the exhibition has had 420 thousand visitors.
For the commemoration, the DB AG imposes a fee of approx. 5 Euros per traveled kilometer and, for day-long stopovers in German stations, approx. 500 Euros. The train is parented by the German citizens' initiative of the same name. In 2010, the EU Commission granted this civil society organization an award for its "active civic engagement." Since 2005, it has been appealing to the Deutsche Bahn AG to appropriately honor the "Reichsbahn's" murdered victims and financially support the ailing survivors, On various occasions, the Deutsche Bahn AG has sought to prohibit the "Train of Commemoration" from using its tracks, for example, to enter Berlin in 2008. Since 2007, the "Train of Commemoration" has received the support of the French state-owned SNCF and the formerly state-owned Polish PKP railroad companies without charge.
Contact: +49 171-190 50 50 (Mr. Minow)
Germans support the lawsuit, in preparation in the USA, demanding the refunding of receipts made by the German "Reichsbahn" during Nazi mass deportations. The "claims of these survivors, millions of whom, had been transported to the Nazi camps by the 'Deutsche Reichsbahn' and had to buy their tickets" are "absolutely justified", writes the EU supported citizens association, "Train of Commemoration," in its position statement on the lawsuit, made public this weekend in the USA.
Several thousand East European survivors of Nazi deportations are demanding that today's Deutsche Bahn AG railway company restitute to the victims the entire amount of service receipts that it inherited from the "Deutsche Reichsbahn." The "Reichsbahn" had charged mileage fees. Children paid a reduced fare for their trips to their deaths. Because of US legal norms, the survivors intend to initiate this class action suit for restitution before US courts in June. According to an expertise published by the citizens association "Train of Commemoration," the "Reichsbahn" took in receipts of at least 445 million Euros at current value for its complicity in murder. When all outstanding interest is taken into account, the plaintiffs' attorneys estimate the Deutsche Bahn's debt to be around two billion Euros.
The German government is of the opinion that the claims of Nazi victims have been settled. Neither the incriminated enterprises nor their successors have outstanding legal obligations, after having been exonerated through paying into a national "Stiftung EVZ," endowment fund in Berlin. According to the Foundation Act, Nazi victims must prove their impairment within two years to receive compensation from this fund. Whoever does not meet these conditions of the foundation forfeits his/her claims. Hundreds of thousands were left empty-handed. Since then, according to the German government, German industry, including the Deutsche Bahn AG, is protected from further claims and enjoys "legal peace."
On the other hand, the citizens association's position statement affirms that, "legal peace" must "first of all, be provided to the victims." The Deutsche Bahn AG has a "moral and material" obligation "to acknowledge their suffering." "The crimes committed through Nazi deportations can never be atoned for through legally non-binding endowment funds with twoyear expiration deadlines. Murder and genocide have no statutes of limitation." The announced lawsuit in the USA will have to examine, whether the German Foundation Act meets international legal standards. "It is high time to examine the dubious practices of Berlin's endowment fund," writes the "Train of Commemoration."
This private association, which was honored with an award from the European Union in 2010 for its civic engagement, had made numerous appeals to the Deutsche Bahn AG for it to enter talks with the concerned victims' organizations and German civic society on the "Reichsbahn's" guilt and debts. All of these appeals, says the position statement, were ignored. "We regret the fact that those in charge at the Deutsche Bahn had preferred to evade this dialog and seek confrontation. That strategy has resulted in international legal disputes that will prove costly to the company."
Zug der Erinnerung
Train of Commemoration
Board of directors
Contact: +49 171-190 50 50 (Mr. Minow)
East European victims of Nazi deportations have accepted the Deutsche Bahn AG's (DB AG) "final offer". Survivors of Reichsbahn transports to Nazi concentration and death camps had sought support from the DB AG for former prisoners, who, today, are very old and frail. At the end of September, after months of negotiations, the DB AG board of directors tabled their "final offer." If it is not accepted, the victims will receive nothing at all, reported participants in the negotiations.
According to this "offer", the approximately 200,000 survivors of the Reichsbahn's complicity in mass murder should receive a one-time payment totalling 25 Euros per person. These 25 Euros would be paid in instalments covering several years, so that the company would be paying 5 Euros per year per person. Rather than paying this sum directly to the individual recipients, it would be reassigned to a German foundation, which would then decide on the apportionment, propose "projects" and charge administration fees. The payments will go to survivors in Poland, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. The majority of the Reichsbahn's victims are living in these countries under difficult social conditions and have never received reparations from Germany.
During the negotiations, which began in June 2010, the negotiators representing the DB's board of directors refused to consider restitution being paid from the Reichsbahn's receipts obtained for its role during the deportations. This blood money (at least 445 million Euros in current values) was never repaid after the war, neither by the heirs of the Reichsbahn in the Federal Republic of Germany nor those in the German Democratic Republic. With interests, this sum would currently amount to 2.2 billion Euros. Even initial pleas for humanitarian aid amounting to around 150 300 Euros per survivor, have been turned down by the DB board's negotiators. Their initial offer had been a "donation" of a total of 5 Euros per deportation victim (1 million Euros) which rose to a one-time payment of 25 Euros (a total of 5 million Euros) by the end of September.
The German "Train of Commemoration" citizens' initiative, which accuses the DB AG of exercising "social extortion", is examining possibilities for a lawsuit before international instances. "Neither the guilt nor debts of the owners of the railroad have ever been expunged, whether financially or morally," declared the non-profit association. "The DB AG, Europe's largest logistical enterprise, with billions in receipts, will not escape its responsibility."
Contact for the Press: 0171-190 50 50 (Mr. Minow)
In the autumn of 2009, the German citizens' initiative "Train of Commemoration" (ToC) published an expertise estimating the amount of the receipts made by the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" in the course of its complicity in the Nazi crimes against humanity to attain at least 445 million Euros. This amount of revenue, which has never been reimbursed, would, with interests, acquire at least 2.2 billion Euros.
In the spring of 2010, based on this expertise, victims associations in Eastern Europe and the ToC recommended that the heirs of the "Reichsbahn" atone for those crimes through embursing the impoverished survivors of the "Reichsbahn's" deportations.
In June 2010, with the participation of the German government, the Deutsche Bahn AG's board of directors entered talks with representatives of Eastern European victims. The negotiating partners intend to present a preliminary result of their several meetings in the near future.
According to information at our disposal, the victims have received a financial proposal from the Deutsche Bahn AG board of directors that is in no relationship to the minimal sum determined by the expertise (445 million Euros). The sum being proposed is inadequate and an affront to the victims, whose social situation compels them to accept. The proposal has created uproar among those concerned. It is destined to provoke indignation throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
Even a moderately enhanced proposal, that does not take into account the sum of reference for the (445 million Euros) criminally obtained "Reichsbahn" receipts and undercuts it by more than half, will not be able to be sustained.
A just result can only be obtained if the moral and financial aspects are comprehensively as well as consensually honored by all participants. So far, the procedure, which we consider a failure, has provided no basis for this to take place.
The "Train of Commemoration" expresses the hopes that those in charge at the Deutsche Bahn AG and in the German government, as well as those parliamentarians of the German Bundestag involved, will agree to proceed with a round-table.
The objective should be to pronounce a common recommendation by December 7, 2010, so that payments can promptly begin to the needy victims (including those in the Federal Republic of Germany). The German civil society, which has specialized in questions of the "Reichsbahn's" crimes, represented by the "Train of Commemoration", should be a full participating member of this round-table.
The "Train of Commemoration" considers that the common German historical guilt and debts necessitate common atonement. The moral capital invested by German civil society and the financial capital, in the hands of the Deutsche Bahn AG and its owner the German government, must be brought together and contribute to overcoming distrust and hatred existing between the surviving victims and the descendents of the culprits.
Berlin September 8, 2010
"Train of Commemoration"
On the occasion of the current negotiations taking place between, on the one hand, the owner of the Deutsche Bahn AG and the international organizations of the victims of Nazi crimes, on the other, the citizens initiative "Train of Commemoration" declares:
1. The sole owner of the Deutsche Bahn AG is the Federal Republic of Germany, represented by the Ministry for Transport, Building and Urban Affairs. The Federal Republic of Germany is heir of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" estate and operating its successor, the Deutsche Bahn AG.
2. Parts of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" estate were derived from the complicity in murder during mass deportations effectuated by the Nazi government in Germany and in the German occupied countries. According to a preliminary expertise, the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" accomplished an intake of at least 445 million Euros current value (US $665 million) through these mass deportations.
3. The liable party for these receipts is the Federal Republic of Germany; the creditors are the victims of the "Reichsbahn's" crimes, their heirs and their international representative bodies.
4. The Federal Republic of Germany refuses to recognize its persistent debt and offer the victims reconciliation through restitutions. Instead it announces, by way of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn's" successor enterprise - the Deutsche Bahn AG - that it is making a "humanitarian gesture".
5. For this "humanitarian gesture" the Federal Republic of Germany and the Deutsche Bahn AG have initiated bilateral negotiations in Poland. To our knowledge, victim's organizations from other countries are not allowed to participate or only indirectly. These exclusive negotiations are suited to pit the victims and their representative bodies against one another.
6. The process being conducted by the chief negotiator of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Deutsche Bahn AG are in violation of the rights of the collectivity of the creditors and lacks every trace of a democratic basis, because the German and international public are being refused involvement in the reconciliation between the successors of the culprits and their victims.
7. The "gesture" announced by the Federal Republic of Germany and the Deutsche Bahn AG is neither morally nor materially adequate. Rather than fully confess to complicity of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn", to commemorate the murdered at the scenes of their deportations and fulfill an unconditional compensation corresponding to the amount of the receipts made through committing the crime, the debtors are offering the victims an "aid program". This "program," destined to last several years, transforms the victims into beggars of charity. Tens of thousands of frail, elderly will not even live long enough to benefit from these "humanitarian gestures".
8. The approach of the debtor is in contradiction with the opinion of large sectors of the German public, who feel that only an unambiguous confession and the settlement of the debts can assuage the weight of guilt, so that the hatred and distrust between the descendants of the culprits and their surviving victims can be overcome.
9. Should the Federal Republic of Germany's course of negotiations be aimed at exploiting the indigence of the victims, playing off the victims one against the other, to force them to accept a "program" and let the passing of time take care of their legitimate claims, the results of these negotiations will have no validity.
10. In the name of the presidium of the German "Train of Commemoration" citizens' initiative and the civil society it represents we declare: The legal obligation of the Federal Republic of Germany to compensate all of the "Reichsbahn's" victims is not fulfilled through a "humanitarian gesture" and is subject to international law - et nunc et semper.
Berlin, August 10, 2010
Zug der Erinnerung e.V.
Demonstrations at German train stations announced
Demonstrators at several German train stations are calling for reparations to be paid to the victims of the "Reichsbahn's" deportation transports to Nazi slave labor and death camps. On Sunday July 11, there were clashes with the security forces of the German railroad ("Deutsche Bahn AG" DB AG) in Hamburg. The company sought to hinder the distribution of information material, invoking its rights as property owner. A banner bearing the phrase "Honor to the 'Reichsbahn's' Victims Aid to the Survivors" was forbidden and surrounded by DB security guards.
The demonstrations also called for in Frankfurt/Main and other large cities are in response to the so-called train station festivals organized across the country by the DB AG. With these festivals, the successor of the "Reichsbahn" is commemorating the 175th anniversary of the German railroad system, thereby situating itself within the tradition of German national railroad history, which also included Auschwitz. The climax of the festivities will be the train station festival in Nuremberg, where DB CEO, Rüdiger Grube and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel will be the invited guests.
"As long as the survivors of the 'Reichsbahn's' crimes are alive, some being forced to live in squalor, we see no reason to rejoice," explains the Hamburg demonstrator's banned information material. According to an expertise contracted by the citizens' initiative "Train of Commemoration", as a result of the mass deportations, the "Reichsbahn" made receipts of at least 445 million Euros (at current values). This money has never been used for reparation to the victims. The citizens' initiative is demanding "an appropriate restitution rather than cheap charity. The surviving 'Reichsbahn's' victims in Germany and in the countries that had been under Nazi occupation must have unconditional justice."
Contact for the Press: +49 171 190 5050
The last remaining survivors of the "Reichsbahn" deportations cannot hope for speedy relief. This was announced by the citizens' initiative "Train of Commemoration", which supports the former deportees from Germany and various East European nations. The German Minister of Transport, Peter Ramsauer (CSU) has not responded to a written inquiry on this issue since November last year.
Even the Deutsche Bahn AG (DB) railway presidium has maintained its silence in face of the multiple demands that it take up the case of the "Reichsbahn" victims. "We had hoped that you would take the advanced age of the survivors, into consideration, whose suffering has been neither morally nor materially reconciled " explains one of the citizens' initiative's letters addressed to the DB April 20, 2010. "To wait further with the aid and to treat negotiation offers in a dilatory way can only signify that one is banking on the deaths of the survivors." Given the fact that all pleas and appeals have been ignored, there is no alternative than "to inform the German and international public of the failure of our efforts."
Twenty associations of survivors from five nations had announced that, if the DB refuses to make a humanitarian gesture for the remaining survivors, they would, if necessary, take the case to court. They, as children, had been deported to Nazi slave and extermination camps with trains of the "Deutsche Reichsbahn." It is estimated that in all, more than 3 million people had been carried away with the "Reichsbahn", with thousands having died en route in the freight cars. In the course of this undertaking, the government-owned railway company made receipts conservatively estimated at 455 million Euros, in current values. Today's legal and historical heirs of the "Reichsbahn" are the German Ministry of Transportation and the DB AG.
On the 65th Anniversary of their liberation, the survivors of the "Reichsbahn" deportations intend to accompany the "Train of Commemoration" when it arrives in Berlin May 8. The DB has announced its intention to close the tracks (Berlin-Spandau) but leaves open whether it also intends to hinder the commemoration of the Reichsbahn victims at the former deportation station at Berlin-Grunewald.
Contact: +49 2297 1649
A new conflict is in the making between the "Train of Commemoration" citizens' initiative, who seek to have their exhibition train enter Berlin May 8, and the German railroad company Deutsche Bahn AG (DB). The DB refuses to allow the train carrying an exhibition on the German "Reichsbahn's" youth deportation victims during the Nazi period, to enter the Berlin-Spandau station. The DB has yet to confirm access to other stations in the German capital, including the Berlin-Grunewald former deportation station.
The German Federal Network Agency has already become involved in this conflict. Yesterday (Monday April 19,), this government regulating agency had summoned the parties to the conflict to Bonn for arbitration talks. Shortly before the agreed meeting, the DB announced its refusal to attend. "Rather than support the commemoration of the 'Reichsbahn's' victims, the 'Reichsbahn's' heirs are seeking confrontation," the speaker of the citizen's initiative "Train of Commemoration" commented this refusal.
Already in 2008, there were public confrontations during the commemoration of the more than 4,500 deported children, taken from Berlin by the "Reichsbahn." In spite of the intervention of Berlin's mayor, the DB blocked the "Train of Commemoration" from halting at Berlin's main station. Tens of thousands of visitors then laid their flowers in the side-track stations.
The "Reichsbahn's" heirs are demanding exorbitant fees for permitting the trains to run and for the entry to the exhibition on the young victims of the "Reichsbahn". The citizens' initiative, which has had the train roll throughout Germany for the past three years, must pay the DB 4 Euros per kilometer of track that the train covers in route, as well as 45 Euros per hour of the exhibition at the stations. Even the over-night layovers on the freight tracks are costly. Over all the daily fees to be paid by the "Train of Commemoration" to the heirs of the "Reichsbahn" are about 1.000 Euros.
The planned stay-over in Berlin (May 8, 20,) will be paid for from donations contributed by several of Berlin's municipal districts, church circles and private supporters. The citizens' initiative announced that "on the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the end of World War II, we insist upon bringing the 'Train of Commemoration' into the German capital May 8".
Contact: +49 2297 1649
The German "Reichsbahn" railroad took in millions in receipts for mass deportations to Nazi death camps. For the first time, the amount of these receipts has been calculated and published in an expertise. Even though the Federal Republic of Germany is the legal heir of these "Reichsbahn" receipts, Berlin has never commissioned the computation of the amount of the extorted transportation fees nor the damages caused by deportation.
The Expertise will be made available to the international press in the presence of surviving victims of the "Reichsbahn":
Friday, November 6, at 11.00
In Berlin-Moabit, Putlitzbrücke / Memorial for the Deported
According to this expertise, the state-owned "Reichsbahn" charged for transport to Auschwitz and the other death camps 2 Pfennige (approx. 12 Cents) per person, per kilometer. For a death transport from Berlin (1,033 deportees to the Ghetto Lodz), the "Reichsbahn" received in current values approx. 63 thousand Euros, for a mass deportation from Hamburg (1,004 deportees to Minsk), the "Reichsbahn" was paid approx 190 thousand Euros in current values. The "Reichsbahn" had the victims to pay the costs of their trips.
As the expertise has ascertained, even the transports to the gas chambers for those with "congenital illnesses" (128 thousand victims) were calculated at these usual prices. This comes to a sum of more than four million Euros in "Reichsbahn" receipts. Deportation by rail in Poland, according to the expertise, comes to a sum of double-digit millions. Several thousand children and youth were among those abducted. The "Reichsbahn" also charged high rates for the smuggling of concentration camp inmates in boxcars from one camp to another.
The German ministries for Finance and for Transportation are indebted for the total amount of receipts calculated by the expertise at current values.
Contact to the press: 02297-1649 / Cell: 0171-190-5050
On its internet channel "Bahn TV," the German Bahn AG railroad company is broadcasting sequences of Nazi propaganda on the German railroad system, while the mass deportations to the death camps by the "German Reichsbahn" are passed over in silence. This was declared by the "Train of Commemoration" Association, presenting a "Bahn TV" channel broadcast as evidence. In this program a documentary film is shown that, according to the moderator, was produced "with a great love for historical detail".
The documentation "Zeugnisse der Zeit" (Testimony of the Time) covers 150 years of German railroad history. Disregarding the context, the period of the Nazi dictatorship and the period after 1936 are depicted as periods when the German economy had an "unexpected upswing," the living standard rose "and therefore also the desire to travel". As illustration, the film shows clearly identifiable Nazi propaganda sequences of overcrowded vacation trains. The Nazi scenes are accompanied by lively military march music giving the impression of an enjoyable normalcy. By this time, the ostracism of German Jews was in full swing. In a night and fog operation in 1938, thousands of Poles were deported "to the east" with the Reichsbahn.
Without interruption or mention of the Reichsbahn's complicity in the mass murder, the "Bahn TV" program complains of the destruction of German cities and railway lines showing scenes from the post-war period. The "Bahn TV" program does not mention the "Reichsbahn's" transports into the death camps nor those of the concentration camps' construction brigades, who lost their lives on the tracks of the "Reichsbahn". Under contract from the Reich Security Main Office and other Nazi administrations, the "Reichsbahn" transported over 3 million people to Auschwitz and other death camps. The quote from the "Bahn TV" program can be found on the Internet: http://zug-der-erinnerung.eu/index.html
The "Bahn TV" program is being shown in a recently opened exhibit in the "Train of Commemoration". The exhibit presents other documents on the "Reichsbahn's" heir's views of history. It shows how the "Deutsche Bundesbahn" sought to prevent a public representation of the Nazi mass deportations to death camps. In the DB directorates internal correspondence one reads, it cannot be permitted "that the railroad's role in the persecution of Jews during the Third Reich becomes the theme" of an exhibit on the history of the railroad. When historians sought to obtain records concerning the Reichsbahn's deportations, the DB answered "that it is neither within its duties nor its possibilities to carry out competent research in this direction." The archives in the possession of the "Reichsbahn's" successor still contain photo albums and other pieces of evidence pointing to likely suspects.
The Deutsche Bahn AG has collected exorbitant fees for the "Train of Commemoration's" exhibits. So far the citizen's initiative has had to pay 110,000 Euros for the use of tracks and stopovers in 70 stations. The directorate of the Bahn AG has refused to make a contribution to the "Train of Commemoration."
Contact: 0049-171-190 5050
The German government parties- the Christian Democrats (CDU) and Christian Social Union (CSU) together with the Social Democrats(SPD) turned down all requests for support of "The Train of Remembrance". This caused the request to the parliamentary budget committee by MP Katrin Goering-Eckardt to fail. Mrs. Goering-Eckardt, Vice President of the German Parliament, and member of the Alliance 90 Group/Greens had proposed that the planned journey by the "Train of Remembrance" should be supported from taxpayers' funds on its coming journey through Europe. This suggestion was supported by the Free Democrats (FDP), the Alliance 90/The Greens and the Party of the Left. The government parties voted against. Even a token demand for a few euros' support for the "Train of Remembrance" was denied debate by the government parties.
The veto by the CDU/CSU and SPD stands in stark contradiction to undertakings by numerous representatives of these parties who were previously strong supporters of the "Train of Remembrance" at local and provincial level. In the past several CDU prime ministers were strong supporters of this citizens' initiative. This support left the Federal Chancelry unimpressed. Not a cent was available from the office of the resident Minister of State for Culture and Media (Bernd Neumann - CDU/CSU) to commemorate over 1 million deported children from the countries occupied by Germany.
"The Train of Remembrance", sponsored by the initiative of private citizens, will continue its journey in the coming months. A new route of several thousand kilometres is planned through numerous stations on the West and South West regions of the German rail network. It is also planned to visit stations in neighbouring countries to commemorate deported children and young people from almost all European countries. The number of children and young victims of the Nazis deported to concentration and extermination camps by the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" (German State Railways) is estimated to be 1.5 million.
The exhibition carriages, drawn by a steam engine, included biographies of some of the young victims. In the first journey they were to be seen on seventy railway stations in Germany as well as in Poland and attracted 240,000 visitors. The exhibition, which also identified culprits in the Reich Ministry of Transport and German Railways, is presently being extended.
To give practical support to the last survivors of the child deportations, "The Train of Remembrance" is beginning several projects of practical assistance. In Poland alone, the German authorities carried off over 30,000 children and young people. Several thousand victims from other European countries live in Israel in their extreme old age. As well as having material needs, they are plagued by long-term psychological problems arising from their deportation by the "Reichsbahn" and their experiences in the camps. Sponsorship of the charitable projects will be assumed by local initiatives at the stations to be visited in the next train journey.
As it has been since its beginning in November 2007, "The Train of Remembrance" will be supported overwhelmingly by private subscription. The organisers have previous had to pay nearly 100,000 euro to Deutsche Bahn AG. The company demanded large sums for use of the rail network and for the memorial exhibitions on railway stations. In spite of numerous appeals from prominent people in cultural and political life ( including the Prime Ministers of Saarland and Thuringia), Deutsche Bahn refused either to remit its charges or make a contribution.
The charitable association again appealed to Chairman Mehdorn of the Railway Board to waive the charges for the memorial train. The organisers have also addressed similar appeals to the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Transport which is responsible for the oversight of the Federal Railway.
For the rolling exhibition, exhibiting the biographies of the children from all over Europe, who had been deported by the Nazis, the SNCF is making a spare railroad car available. The promise of aid, at normal rental conditions, spares the initiators financial losses and expenses in the range of 18,000 Euros.
The enlargement of the commemoration for the abducted children is the reason behind the cooperation. Due to the overwhelming sympathy displayed at the deportation train stations (already more than 60,000 visitors), the route has been extended several thousand kilometers. It is scheduled to reach the Auschwitz Memorial on May 8, where youth from over 40 German cities will commemorate the deportees in an international ceremony.
The duplication of the originally planned route led to a technical bottleneck. The exhibition would have had to be interrupted for several weeks. The SNCF's promise to make a rare spare railcar available, permits the continuation of the route to other German train stations.
Among these is the Hamburg Central Station, where local initiators intend to welcome the "Train of Commemoration" in March. It was in this port city that Georges-André Kohn, a deportee from France, at age 13, met his death. He was hanged in the cellar of a school. His biography is among the exhibits in the "Train of Commemoration".
"Your altruistic aid honors the murdered children and is an example of our common values," wrote the citizens' initiatives in their letter of gratitude to the management of the SNCF.
Berlin – Citizens' initiatives in support of the "Train of Commemoration" are now turning to European public opinion, because a "virtual boycott" is obstructing the commemoration of the children and youth, who were deported during the Nazi period. They are calling for protests against the "Deutsche Bahn AG" and the German Ministry of Transportation in Berlin.
Since last November, the citizens initiatives' "Train of Commemoration" – carrying a mobile exhibit of biographies of the missing children from many European nations – has been following the same routes taken by the German deportation trains. Hundreds of thousands were carried over the German rail network to death-camps. The mass-transport was organized by the "Deutsche Reichsbahn." Only few of the deported survived.
More than 40,000 people have already visited the train in German stations, to inform themselves of these Nazi crimes. Some laid flowers for the children from Norway, the Netherlands, Poland or Italy in the narrow exhibition cars. Tens-of-thousands more are awaiting the arrival of the train in nearly all of the German federal states and are preparing local commemorations for the missing children from their hometowns, from France, Belgium or from Greece.
But, according to the appeal, the "Deutsche Bahn AG," Europe's largest rail logistician, is obstructing the commemorations through demands for several tens-of-thousands of Euros. The railroad company's board of directors has refused to accord demands for a waiver of these costs. Even the Ministry of Transport in Berlin has categorically refused to support the "Train of Commemoration," even though the mass-deportation of European children and youth was commissioned by its predecessor (the Reich's Ministry of Transportation).
For the past few weeks, parliamentarians from various parties and numerous German media organs have been protesting against the attempts to halt the "Train of Commemoration" through financial requirements. "It's a shame that the Bahn AG is obstructing this project with its behavior. After all, these deportations were organized by former train managers," said the federal parliamentarian, Ulla Burchhardt of the SPD. Winfried Hermann, who is in the Transportation Committee of the German Parliament for the Greens, calls the behavior of the Bahn management "unbearable." Even the Prime Minister of the federal state of Saarland, Peter Mueller (CDU) criticized the Bahn management. The journal, "Saarbruecker Zeitung" considers the methods of the Bahn AG to be "unscrupulous: to indirectly enrich itself from the fate of the deportees of the German Reichsbahn. A shabby behavior that could not be more humiliating for the survivors."
These interventions have as yet remained without effect.
Because of these obstructions, the initiators of the "Train of Commemoration" are now calling for protests. A complete withdrawal of financial demands is being demanded from the Bahn AG. According to the appeal, the Ministry of Transportation, "is part and parcel of the villainous state heritage" and therefore must "make a decisive contribution" to the "Train of Commemoration." The initiators of the commemoration (www.zug-der-erinnerung.eu) ask that protests from other European nations be addressed to German diplomatic missions.
Zug der Erinnerung e.V.
Press photos on demand
BERLIN – Over the past few weeks, approximately 20,000 visitors have seen the rolling exhibition on Nazi deportations in German train stations. The unusual exhibition in the"Train of Commemoration" – initiated by private German citizens initiatives – is dedicated to the murdered small children and youth from all over Europe.
The exhibition, with the biographies of the missing children, is installed in two wagons and is being pulled by a steam engine over the tracks of the German rail system. Nazi occupation troops abducted more than a million small children and youth, from all over Europe, and transported them to German death camps, over the rails of the former "Deutsche Reichsbahn," that had placed its logistics at the disposal of the mass murderers. Only few survivors returned.
The train is to travel 3000 km through Germany, before reaching the Auschwitz Memorial in Poland. The Deutsche Bahn AG, the biggest European logistician, is not only demanding that the private organizers pay so called track tolls to use its rail network, it is also demanding a high price for the stopovers of the "Train of Commemoration" in German railway stations. The Bahn AG is the successor of the "Reichsbahn".
All together the journey of several months will cost 250,000 Euros, which is why the private citizens initiatives have been seeking donations. The German Ministry for Transport, responsible for the railway system, has refused all financial support "on legal grounds".
On November 8, 2007, the “Train of Commemoration” will start its journey through Germany. This journey will begin at the Frankfurt (State of Hesse) railway station and end at the Auschwitz Memorial (Oswiecim/Poland), where the “Train of Commemoration” is scheduled to commemorate the children murdered by the Nazi regime. The train, pulled by a stream engine and including several wagons of exhibitions, will take the route of the deportations carried out, at the time, by the German Reichsbahn.
Over one million children and youth from all over Europe were transported to extermination camps via the German rail network: Children of Jewish families, children of the Sinti and Roms and of Nazi opponents. The mobile exhibition in the “Train of Commemoration” is, with their biographies, commemorating the victims from Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Greece, Poland and the Soviet Union. It will also commemorate the aid organized by the allied anti-Nazi forces, such as the transport of children to Great Britain, which saved the lives of approximately 10.000 children and youth.
This nation wide campaign was initiated by private citizens’ committees. With this commemoration they want to inspire others to take a stand against racial hatred, right wing extremism and nationalist megalomania. They had asked Europe’s largest railway company, the German Bahn AG, to support the showing of the exhibition in German train stations, as well as the Ministry of Transport in Berlin, in charge of the German rail network, for practical aid.
The “Train of Commemoration”, beginning on November 8, 2007 in Frankfurt, will travel 3000 km and pass through 20 German train stations. For many children from Europe under occupation, these were the last train stations in their lives.
Point of departure: Frankfurt (Hesse): November 8 – 9 / Darmstadt: Nov. 9 – 13 / Mannheim: Nov. 14 –17 / Karlsruhe: Nov. 18 – 20 / Stuttgart: Nov. 22 – 24
December/January Saarbrücken, Fulda, Goettingen, Hannover, Braunschweig, Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Leipzig among others.
Berlin/Oswiecim – German citizens’ committees are planning to commemorate the Nazi deportation of over 12,000 Jewish children with a train relay. In the coming fall, a train will take the route of the deportations that, at the time, had been made by the “Reichsbahn,” visiting the home towns of the missing children. A mobile exhibition, installed in several wagons, will illustrate the fate of the deportees. The organizers hope to particularly incite young people to search for traces of the deported children in their towns. According to current planning, the train will halt at stations in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Thuringia, Saxony-Anhalt and Saxony.
The nation-wide „Train of Commemoration“ Citizens’ Committee is hoping to collect photos, archive material, and oral testimonies concerning the deported children and is planning to bring these to the Auschwitz Memorial at the end of the journey that will take several months to complete. In this nation-wide search for traces, participants coming from all the Federal states, will accompany the train on its last stretch between the border town of Goerlitz and today’s Oswiecim (Auschwitz). The “Train of Commemoration” will reach the Auschwitz Memorial next year. The missing Jewish children and youth came from almost all major cities and rural areas in Germany. Between 1940 and 1944, they were rounded up and taken, usually with their families, to train stations, where they were deported by the “Reichsbahn” to extermination camps. So far, the „Train of Commemoration” Citizens’ Committee has been able to identify 12.089 German children and youth, who, through deportations from all over the “Reich”, were victims of the Nazi “race policy.” Their ordeal has remained nearly unnoticed by the German public. The nationwide train relay, inspiring commemoration, is also a warning against the return of racist hatred, right wing extremism and national megalomania.
The „Train of Commemoration is a sequel to earlier successful German citizens’ initiatives. For two years, and with growing public support, these initiatives had been demanding that an exhibition on the crime of deportation, previously shown at French train stations, would also be shown in train stations also in Germany. Last December, after a number of demonstrations that had been reported on internationally, the Ministry of Transport in Berlin finally agreed to initiate a project for an exhibition of the Bahn AG to be displayed next year.
The „Train of Commemoration”, which already will start in 2007, aims at expanding this commemoration to point to the European dimension of this major crime. According to estimates, over one million children and youth from almost all countries on the continent were transported to their deaths by the “Reichsbahn”. Many of those responsible for the crime, have never been punished.
The „Train of Commemoration” is a citizens’ project, financed by initiatives in numerous German cities. Local groups, grassroots organizations and private donors are sharing the considerable costs. Trade unions, foundations and memorials are, among others, partners in this cooperation.