Organizers of a traveling exhibit about Nazi deportations say serious obstacles are making a Berlin stop difficult.
The organizers are planning a silent, candlelight march in Berlin on April 12, in memory of the 4,600 Jewish children and youth deported from the German capital during World War II. An estimated 1.5 million children were deported from across Europe to Nazi death camps.
The exhibit, “Train of Commemoration” – made up of several train cars containing photos and film – will be in Berlin April 13-22. Exhibit organizers and the International Auschwitz Committee are protesting what they consider obstacles – both financial and physical – placed in their way by the current German railway, Deutsche Bahn.
The non-profit association behind the exhibit still doesn’t know exactly where the train will pull in, since the Deutsche Bahn won’t let them use the new main rail station or the old Grunewald station, where a memorial financed by Deutsche Bahn marks “track 17,” from which deportation trains headed east. They also are protesting the railway’s track fees of up to $166,000 as their exhibit traverses some 3,700 miles, to 60 stations in Germany. The exhibit was launched in November and its last stop is to be at the former Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland on May 8, the 63rd anniversary of the end of World War II. A railway spokesperson said the protesters appeared to ignore “our years of active remembrance work.” The spokesman added that it is required by law to collect fees for track use. Tensions have been high, with the railway threatening to sue Duesseldorf Jewish leader Michael Szentei-Heise for recently suggesting that current railway director Hartmut Mehdorn would have sympathized with Nazis. A separate exhibit, “Special Trains to Death,” co-sponsored by the Deutsche Bahn, opened in Berlin in January and is being shown in stations across the country. It is based on an extensive exhibit at the Deutsche Bahn Museum in Nuremberg and includes photos and biographies of Jewish children deported from France, collected by Serge and Beate Klarsfeld.