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Memory Hole: German Railways
Some articles about the historical involvement of German railway in crimes against humanity and short memories and business ethics.

Quote:The Commemoration Train

(Own report) - Three years after the beginning of the serious dispute concerning the Deutsche Reichsbahn's role in Nazi deportations from all parts of Europe, the company's successor, the Deutsche Bahn (DB), with headquarters in Berlin, has yielded to international pressure and granted access to the premises of train stations for commemoration activities. The "Commemoration Train" will arrive Thursday Nov. 8, unimpeded in the Frankfurt main station and begin its 3,000 km journey through locations from where deportations were made. The train will be transporting an exhibition about the fate of more than 12,000 children from Germany, who had been carried off to death camps. European biographies remind of the murdered children and youth from formerly occupied states, estimated at more than a million. The "Commemoration Train" is sponsored by citizens' initiatives throughout Germany and is financed through donations. The German Ministry of Transportation, which, months ago, had been solicited for aid, has left all pleas unanswered. The inauguration of this unusual campaign, that has now prevailed over the explicit resistance of government institutions, has evoked the interest of foreign media.

As announced by the organizers, the "Commemoration Train" will be turned over to the public on track 1a at the Frankfurt Main Station on the eve of the memorial of the Nazi pogrom night (November 8 - 9, 1938). This is where the citizens' initiatives over the years had been appealing to the Deutsche Bahn AG to confront its predecessor's past and allow, unimpeded, the exercise of the commemorations of the victims of the Reichsbahn's deportations. The company's top management first sought to confront the demands evasively ("too expensive," "too little space") and then violently. On the Auschwitz commemoration day in 2007, photos of deported children were ripped down at one train station or, for example in Wuerzburg, commemoration ceremonies were rudely disrupted.[1] The fact that the "Commemoration Train" citizens' initiatives' demands have now been accorded, signifies a major defeat of the company's top management in Berlin.[2]

In April, the citizens' initiatives decided to use the public rail system to circumvent the train company's ban from the premises. They rented a locomotive and cars to transport the planned exhibition to the stations. With costs reaching into the hundreds of thousands of Euros, the project, at first, seemed impossible. Through the participation of the German Trade Union Federation's (DGB) regional offices in Baden Wuerttemberg and Saxony, that invited the train to come to their regions, the project was able to establish a financial basis. Not only organizations in sympathy with the campaign but even municipal sponsors are, in the meantime, promoting the exhibition in the "Commemoration Train", for example the city of Bochum (in North Rhine Westphalia) and Gotha (in Thuringia). The broad social movement engaged in the commemoration of the victims of the Nazis, made it difficult, from the very beginning, for the train company to maintain its ban. In the summer, because of the international interest in having the deported adequately commemorated, ministerial authorities and the management of the train company decided to permit the "Commemoration Train" to make its route.

Win Back
The campaign for the commemoration of the children and youth deported by the Nazis, is explicitly in opposition to the revival of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and nationalist megalomania in Germany. According to an internal written concept, on hand at, the unusual commemoration of the victims of that period is to win back the "public space that government authorities have either docilely abandoned to the extreme right or did not resolutely enough defend."

Very Distinguished
Exemplary for the attitude of official authorities is the maneuver of the ministry of transport, responsible for affairs concerning the German railroad company. At the beginning, the ministry, completely neglecting its historical responsibilities, answered the pleas to support the citizens' initiatives against the top managers of the German railroad company with empty phrases, ("not within their competence"). The ministry, under Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD), engaged in non-committal talks with the citizens' initiatives, only to break them off after several months, without explanation, to plan its own separate exhibition. The implicit objective was to impose the official interpretation of history, if possible without public participation. This intention failed. In the "Commemoration Train" the officials responsible for mass deportations were named, among them the former Minister of Transportation, Julius Dorpmueller. In the postwar period, Dorpmueller was very prestigious in the West German train company, despite his institutional complicity in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children and youth.

On its drive that begins tomorrow, the "Train of Commemoration" will carry its message all the way to the Auschwitz Memorial, where the deported will be commemorated next spring. By then the Ministry for Transportation in Berlin may have come up with an answer to the question of why it has once again left the German citizens' initiatives solicitation for support unanswered. This is of particular interest to the foreign media, that is widely reporting on the "Train of Commemoration" and the victims of the German expansion policy.

Up-to-date information can be found at .

[1] see also Konsens aufgekündigt

[2] see also our EXTRA-Dossier Elftausend Kinder

Quote:Legal Successors

(Own report) - The German ministry of transport refuses financial support for the "Commemoration Train" with its exhibition dedicated to the victims of the Nazi "Reichsbahn"-deportations. At the same time, the Deutsche Bahn AG is demanding that the organizers of the train exhibition pay track tolls and tens of thousands of Euros to display photos and last letters of the deportees during stopovers in German train stations. The Deutsche Bahn's management declined to waive the fees, provoking strong reactions from the unexpected large number of visitors to the "Train of Commemoration" exposition. According to the organizers, over 20,000 people have visited the train since it began its journey on November 8, 2007. If the organizers would meet all the demands for stopovers arriving from all corners of Germany, the length of the route would have to be doubled. The Ministry of Transport under Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee (SPD) has categorically refused to help pay the costs. As co-owner of the Bahn AG, the transport ministry is wallowing in wealth and is supervising billions in acquisitions of foreign railway companies. In a few days, the Bahn AG will inaugurate a new ICE-route to Denmark after taking control of two thirds of the British rail freight transportation. Through a subsidiary, the Bahn AG is also involved in war logistics.

In a letter (on hand at, the German Ministry of Transport refuses "on legal grounds" all financial support of this commemoration of children and youth deported from all over Europe. After months of waiting, the citizens' initiatives, soliciting the aid, are being informed that the ministry does not have the "budgetary authorization". But they are not told how to file such an application that could lead to an authorization. At the end of the letter, on behalf of the Minister, the head of the "Political Planning" division wishes "success" and recommends that others should pay for the "Train of Commemoration".[1]

In Charge
As the authority in charge of the German rail traffic, the German Ministry of Transport is the legal successor of the "Reichverkehrsministerium" (the Nazis' Reich's Ministry of Transport), which was in charge of the mass deportations and received millions in profits through the "Deutsche Reichsbahn". As the "Commemoration Train" demonstrates, the former Minister of Transport in the German Reich, Julius Dorpmüller, was in charge of the systematic exclusion of Jewish victims and was responsible for aiding and abetting the mass murder of millions of people, among them approximately 1,5 Million children and youth from Germany and the occupied European nations.

The German Bundesbahn cherished Dorpmüller's memory and paid for the maintenance of his grave. The railway company has provided several railway stations with "Dorpmüller Halls". Even streets have been named after the former Nazi Minister. A study, ordered by the acting Minister of Transport Tiefensee, was recently published on this continuity. This publication, costing tens of thousands of Euros, is only being circulated among specialists and kept away from the public.[2] It serves an alibi function and was ordered only after years of public protest in the railway stations that attracted particularly the attention of foreign media.[3] Today, the media is once again interested [4] - this time in the expansionist activities of the Bahn AG. Through buying up complete foreign railway companies, the Bahn AG has become the most important European logistician and, stemming from its history, is once again arousing fears.

Optimizing the Link-Up
Last Monday, the Deutsche Bahn AG announced its most recent expansion. Already today, the German company is dominating the European market in rail transport for both passenger and freight. It is increasingly transporting passengers to other European countries. Last June it inaugurated its ICE-Paris connection and is planning to expand its cross-border passenger transport. In a few days the ICE-Denmark connection will be inaugurated, and others will follow. To further enhance its position in the European freight transport, last summer the Bahn AG bought the majority of its Spanish competitor Transfesa "to optimize the freight transport to Southern Europe", as the company explains.[5] A few days ago, the EU-Commission approved the take-over of the English Welsh and Scottish Railway (EWS). With EWS being the largest British freight train company, the Deutsche Bahn AG will control two thirds of all British rail freight transport.[6] As was announced on November 26, this new Bahn AG subsidiary will triple the Channel transit beginning in January, thereby "optimizing Great Britain's link-up with the German rail network".[7]

Eurasian Economic Sector
The Deutsche Bahn AG is using it's enormous profits (2,5 Billion in 2006) to expand beyond Europe. Last summer the world's second largest logistic company could announce a "breakthrough" for its project to expand its rail transport via Russia to China through a joint-venture with the Russian Railway (RZD). The head of the German rail company Hartmut Mehdorn intends to move into the state owned railway in the People's Republic of China. "Of all the EU railway companies and logisticians, the Deutsche Bahn AG has the most advantageous position in the booming Eurasian economic sector", estimates Mehdorn.[8] The company's plans not only include East-Asian rail communication but also a "link-up" with the Arabian Peninsula. Since some time, the Bahn AG has been active in Turkey and is trying to get a rail network straight through Saudi Arabia to the Persian Gulf.[9] Accompanied by the German chancellor, Mehdorn held negotiations in India, just a few weeks ago. Already last year, his company concluded a contract enabling him to move onto the Indian market.[10]

Military Logistics
The Deutsche Bahn AG has in the meantime directly profited from the growing German military activities. Schenker, the Deutsche Bahn AG subsidiary, is managing Bundeswehr depots and taking over transport. The growing privatization of Bundeswehr logistics involves huge sums of money: three billion Euros, as a by-product of German military expansion.[11] The Deutsche Bahn AG would like to profit and is seeking more contracts.

[1] Appell an den Bundestag; 26.11.2007
[2] Alfred Gottwaldt/Diana Schulle: "Juden ist die Benutzung von Speisewagen untersagt". Berlin 2007
[3] see also our EXTRA-Dossier Elftausend Kinder
[4] Holocaust train sets off to tell the story of Auschwitz; The Independent 13.11.2007
[5] Stärkung der Schiene Richtung Spanien im Güterverkehr; Pressemitteilung der Deutschen Bahn AG 27.07.2007
[6] s. dazu Der Herr der Schienen
[7] DB-Tochter EWS verdreifacht ab kommendem Jahr Kombinierten Verkehr auf der Schiene durch Kanaltunnel; Pressemitteilung der Deutschen Bahn AG 26.11.2007
[8] see also Zukunftsmärkte jenseits deutscher Grenzen
[9] see also Die neue Bagdad-Bahn, German Industrial Standard (DIN) and Erhebliches Potenzial
[10] see also Der dritte Pfeiler

[11] see also Effizienzgewinn

Quote:Berlin Central Station

(Own report) - Citizens' initiatives across the country are calling for a centralized demonstration against the Deutsche Bahn AG (German Railroad Corp.) The demonstration will lead to the logistic company's headquarters in Berlin to protest against the Bahn AG's financial demands. The Bahn AG is imposing exorbitant fees for the commemoration of European victims of Nazi deportations. The culprits' successor enterprise is demanding hourly payments for access to the touring exhibition at stations through which children and youth were taken to death camps. The organizers of the "Train of Commemoration" calculate the sum total of the Bahn AG's claims to be in the vicinity of 100,000 Euros. The train carrying biographical testimonies of the murdered youth from the Netherlands, Belgium or Poland is scheduled to arrive at the Auschwitz Memorial on May 8. Dozens of culprits, who, as logisticians for the Nazi's Reichsbahn (railroad), were responsible for the smooth functioning of the death transports to Auschwitz, continued their careers in the West German railway system in the post-war period. The West German Railroad (DB) honored perpetrators of mass crimes, while bitterly resisting commemoration of the victims. In a position statement, the initiators of the "Train of Commemoration" noted that "the current boycott of the 'Train of Commemoration' by the Bahn AG is an attempt to smokescreen and hide the state continuity in major German organizations." By remaining silent about this continuity, the Bahn AG is using the victims of the Holocaust.

The demonstration scheduled for April 12 will be preceded by a major event organized by the "Train of Commemoration" initiative at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate [1] commemorating the more than 4,660 children and youth from Berlin, who were carried away to their deaths by the Reichsbahn. It was in Berlin that the Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA - Reich Security Central Office) had planned the arrests of hundreds of thousands in the occupied European countries and had the Nazi Ministry of Transport provide transportation with the "Reichsbahn."

Billions in Profits
Estimates have it that the "Deutsche Reichsbahn" under Transportation Minister Julius Dorpmüller deported around three million people to the death camps. By the end of the war, 400,000 European forced laborers were maintaining the German rail system, over which military personnel and material were shipped to the fronts of the Nazi aggressions. Essential elements of the plundered manufacturing facilities and other stolen wealth from the attacked countries were smuggled into Germany with the "Reichsbahn". Productivity and material subventions went into the technical and real estate funds of the state's railway system that today would be valued at several billion Euros.

Federal Cross of Merit
High-ranking criminals, such as the Nazi Minister of Transport, Julius Dorpmueller, were officially honored by the Deutsche Bahn (DB), the "Reichsbahn's" West German successor. Up until the early 1990s, the state-owned DB covered the charges for the caretaking of Dorpmueller's grave, an accomplice to the mass murder of millions. Railway logisticians who had worked in the railway's regional administration of Auschwitz or had organized the deportations from Warsaw were appointed DB president and chairman of the board.[2] These appointments of deportation specialists was decided during a cabinet meeting of the West German government. When they retired, they were accorded high honors from the German head of state, personally.[3]

Inspection Charge
The DB leadership is putting up a stubborn resistance against the exposure of this continuity. It opposes the publication of Nazi records concerning the "Reichsbahn" and imposes fees on the commemoration of the victims. When the Ruhr Land Museum in Essen (North Rhine-Westphalia) sought to have a memorial plaque installed at Essen's Central Station, commemorating the more than 670 citizens of that city, who were sent with the "Reichsbahn" to their deaths, the DB demanded payment from the initiators: a so-called "inspection fee". Today the plaque, imposed against state resistance, is to be found at an unworthy location, hidden behind a bicycle rack. In Hanau (Hesse) the DB put up an eight-year resistance - including "occasional agonizing conflicts over form and location" [4] - against a memorial plaque for the deported Jews of Hanau. In Nuremberg the DB attempted to suppress the presentation of the "Reichsbahn's" Crimes - against the will of the city's historians.[5]

The Bahn AG had to finally give up this strategy when historical documents furnished by foreign scholars could no longer be ignored and citizens' initiative began to organize demonstrations.[6] In December 2006, the chairman of the Bahn AG, Hartmut Mehdorn, signed a written pledge, committing himself - with reservations - to a public exhibition on the "Reichsbahn's" deportations. But contrary to the original announcement it is being withheld from the public. The pieces of the exhibit are being "shamefully" displayed since last January in a "niche", writes the German press [7], and provides "hardly any information on the crime's of the perpetrators".[8] In Muenster the exhibit will be shown in a dilapidated baggage tunnel and in Halle, in an isolated assembly room. In Cologne, Susanne Kill, an expert on the history of the railroad, was unable to rent space in a documentation center. Everything is being done to prevent the broader public, daily frequenting railroad stations, from seeing the exhibition. The Bahn AG is using a representative of the French victims to publicize the exhibition that is showing clear revisionist tendencies.[9]

Tacit Participation
Efforts to revise the history of the German perpetrators of these crimes has failed, due to the unexpectedly large public interest that has greeted the "Train of Commemoration" since it began its route over the public rail system, entering the stations that had served for the deportations. More than 120.000 visitors have seen the exhibition organized by the citizens' initiatives and become acquainted with the biographies, not only of the victims but also of the perpetrators of these crimes. There have been poignant scenes in the train, particularly as older visitors recall their family histories and reveal their father's and mother's tacit participation in the Nazi regime, journalists are reporting.[10]

Because the "Train of Commemoration" cannot be ignored, the Bahn AG is imposing exorbitant costs: 3,50 Euros for each kilometer traveled over the rail network, from 22 - 45 Euros per hour that the train's exhibition is shown in railroad stations, 5 Euros for overnight stopovers and up to 950 Euros for access to electricity at the railroad stations. The planned demonstration will protest against these methods that are being deplored but not curbed by German parliamentarians. In April the train should enter Berlin's Central Station. The Bahn AG has announced, it will find a way to prevent it.

Please read also our EXTRA-Dossier Elftausend Kinder.

[1] Pressemitteilung vom 29.02.2008
[2] Adolf Gerteis, Fritz Schelp und andere
[3] 1962 erhielt Schelp aus den Händen des Bundespräsidenten das Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern und Schulterband. Schelp war bereits Träger des NS-Ritterkreuzes des Kriegsverdienstkreuzes ohne Schwerter.
[4] Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, Hanau
[5] Volldampf zum Scherbenhaufen; AZ 18./19.09.1982
[6] see also our EXTRA-Dossier Elftausend Kinder
[7] Holocaust-Opfer in der Scham-Ecke; Spiegel Online 23.01.2008
[8] Sonderzüge in den Tod; Die Zeit 24.01.2008
[9] Beate Klarsfeld
Quote:Not a Cent

(Own report) - The "virtual boycott" of the "Train of Commemoration" maintained by the German railway company, the "Deutsche Bahn AG" and the German Ministry of Transport is provoking disconcertment in Europe. The Bahn AG, the largest rail logistician on the European continent, is demanding several tens-of-thousands of Euros for permission to commemorate the Nazi deportation of European victims carried out by its predecessor (the "Deutsche Reichsbahn"). Because the "Train of Commemoration" with its exhibits of deported children and youth is traveling over the German rail network, fees are being charged for the use of the rails. Additional fees are demanded of visitors to cross the train platform to reach the exhibit. Also for the lighting of the photos and last letters of the victims in the "Train of Commemoration," the rail company is demanding huge sums - amounting to more than 50,000 Euros. The German press has characterized these measures as "unscrupulous". Foreign media are now reporting on the flagrant attempt, through exorbitant financial demands, to bring the "Train of Commemoration'" to a halt. The initiators of the "Train of Commemoration" project are appealing abroad for letters of protest to be addressed to German diplomatic missions in the respective countries. The train is scheduled to reach the Auschwitz Memorial on May 8 with several hundred youth aboard. "We will not pay a penny to the Deutsche Bahn AG" announced the citizens' initiatives in an interview.

In order to have access to an electrical socket, at the central station in Mannheim (Baden-Wuerttemberg), report the participants, the Bahn AG is charging more than 900 Euros. The price set by the Bahn AG for ferrying the exhibition car over a stretch of rail of approx. 100 km is at 5,000 Euros. Private railway companies, in the meantime, are refusing to pull the "Train of Commemoration", because they fear consequences for their business transactions with the Bahn AG in Berlin. The monopoly boycott by the Bahn AG is directly connected to the German mass murders in Europe. The current railway company's predecessor (the German Reichsbahn") was the logistician of the mass murders. To refresh this fact in public memory is "poignant," writes the Daily Mirror in a two-page article in its weekend edition.[1]

Sensitive Subject
The London daily finds it "astonishing" that the Reichsbahn's death trains could roll through cities and villages without the victims being helped. The Reichsbahn's transportation of Nazi victims, including more than 1.5 million children, has long been a "sensitive subject" in Germany. How could "an entire nation" not have known that millions were travelling to their deaths. The Daily Mirror writes that "thousands of other rail employees" kept their jobs after the war, helping to build the new German rail system and "denying any part in the Holocaust."

New Sustenance
The enterprise's marketing strategy is being disturbed by the fact that today's Bahn AG cannot shake off this historical heritage and now the "Train of Commemoration" is repeatedly providing new grounds for European public irritation.[2] With transactions worth billions, the company seeks to acquire the control over all of the European and a large part of the world's logistic systems.[3] It is being supported and directed in this endeavor by Germany's Transportation Ministry in Berlin. The latest examples are the takeovers in Great Britain and cooperation contracts with the Russian state railway. The Bahn AG can expect even greater profits particularly from rail-linked business (in part by sea) with eastern nations. This concerns, among other things, the transport of combat weapons to the Middle Eastern theaters of combat [4] and the upgrading of large harbors in northern Germany to accommodate the roll-on/roll-off traffic to Russian ports on the Baltic Sea. Here the Bahn AG is buying into harbor logisticians and profiting from EU subventions. German economic expansion into the Baltic region is causing the isolation of Polish harbors and - as with the transport of combat weapons to Afghanistan - is having serious consequences. The Bahn AG is feeding new (and warranted) sustenance to the fear of a Teutonic predominance.

Barroom Clichés
Recalling the crimes of the predecessor of today's Bahn AG is bothersome. When historical facts cannot be refuted, they are packed away as artifacts, shielded from public updating - as is the case of the Railroad Museum in Nuremberg (Bavaria) or the Berlin-Grunewald regional train station, on a rusty piece of track in Berlin. German media strongly condemns the historical content of these token sites.[5] Citizens' initiatives in numerous cities have been struggling for years to have modest commemorative plaques installed on the facades of their local train stations, to at least point to the fact that local deportations had taken place, usually without success. Among the by-products of this political defense is the stereotypic allegation, "everything necessary has already been done". On various occasions board chairman Mehdorn gave this excuse to justify refusals to accord public demands: "here at the railroad, we don't need an exhibit, we already have one."[6] The quantitative understanding being expressed here, disputes the cultural dimension of the commemoration - but its limitation is impossible as long as humanity is still guided by the taboo against murder. That the board chairman is fed-up with the theme, corresponds to the cheap barroom clichés about it being high time to "draw the line" on the discussion of the Nazi period.

As reactions to the appeal to protest against the railroad demonstrate, the "unscrupulous" [7] behavior of the railway board is being covered by the Ministry of Transport in Berlin. The ministry maintains a "PP" (Political Planning) section, that shields, to a large extent, the railroad company from public interventions or tactically prepares offensives for its pan-European expansion. Because foreign pressure was brought to bare, over the weekend, in protest of the financial demands on the "Train of Commemoration," the speaker of the ministry in Berlin immediately announced that the company would mercilessly collect the penalty payments for commemorating the Nazi's victims, but donate the money directly to a charity organization.[8] The obvious intention behind the PP section of Berlin's Transportation Ministry seems to be to refute the "enrichment" accusation, albeit without relinquishing the massive boycott maintained against the "Train of Commemoration". The speaker for the presidium of the "Train of Commemoration" citizens' initiative responded to this ministerial maneuver with "we won't pay the Deutsche Bahn a cent."[9]

The organizers announced that the second stage of the Germany-wide commemoration tour began Monday, January 7, in Hanover and continued via Lehrte, Braunschweig and Bernburg on to Halle. Other stations will be Gotha, Erfurt, Weimar, Apolda and Leipzig. After more than 40,000 visitors during the first leg of the journey, tens-of-thousands more youth are expected, who, onboard the "Train of Commemoration," will inform themselves of the "Reichsbahn's complicity in the murders, as well as of the current boycott of its historical heir.

Please read the Appeal to Protest against the Deutsche Bahn AG and the Ministry of Transportation in Berlin, as well as the January 4, 2008 Press Statement of the "Train of Commemoration" initiative.

[1] Children of the Holocaust train; Daily Mirror 05.01.2008
[2] see also our EXTRA-Dossier Elftausend Kinder
[3] see also Der Herr der Schienen, Zukunftsmärkte jenseits deutscher Grenzen, Perle, Weiße Flecken and Boomdiktaturen
[4] see also Master of Transport
[5] Deutschlandfunk, Sendung vom 04.12.2006. See also Erhebliches Aktienrisiko
[6] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08.11.2006
[7] Unmoralischer Profit; Saarbrücker Zeitung 06.12.2007
[8] Streit über Bahngebühren für "Zug der Erinnerung"; Spiegel Online 04.01.2008

[9] Bahn behindert Gedenk-Ausstellung "Zug der Erinnerung" weiter; DeutschlandRadio Kultur, 05.01.2008

Quote:"Policy of Historical Memory"

(Own report) - Tensions, between the German government and several countries victimized by Nazi crimes, are casting a shadow over the commemorations of the mass deportations and murders carried out during "Operation Reinhard" seventy years ago. In 1942 - 43, the Nazis murdered within the framework of "Operation Reinhard" around two million west and east European prisoners in the Treblinka, Chelmno, Majdanek, Bełżec, and Sobibór extermination camps. In Sobibór, alone, by July 1943, the Nazi terror regime had murdered more than 34,000 Dutch Jews, including German emigrants. By early January, Berlin had still refused to contribute to the costs of this year's scheduled Sobibór memorial services of the Netherlands, Slovakia, Israel, and Poland. Berlin also does not intend to contribute to covering the costs of the other "Reinhard" memorial sites. As its proprietor, the German government is allowing the Deutsche Bahn AG to charge tariffs for the commemorations of the Sobibór victims. A citizens' initiative seeking to hold commemorations at stations along the route of deportation, in May and June, for those who were murdered must expect to pay the costs. This financial "boycott" is reportedly in concert with the German Ministry of Transport, under CSU minister Ramsauer, according to a press statement by the "Train of Commemoration." The citizens' initiative is appealing for donations to commemorate the victims of Sobibór at several German train stations.

In February 2011, the governments of the Netherlands, Slovakia, Poland and Israel have pledged in a "memorandum" of several pages, financial contributions "for the establishment of a museum and a memorial at the former Sobibór Nazi extermination camp." When German parliamentarian, Jerzy Montag (Green Party) asked the government in October 2011, why the German government was not participating in the commemoration, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs answered that there is absolutely no precondition for doing so, because there has been "no request" [1] from abroad.

No Majority
Even when a resolution was tabled in the German parliament, proposing that the government "rather than rely on the fact that no one raises the issue (...), should offer Poland a financial contribution toward the transformation of the former Sobibór extermination camp into a memorial site (...), thereby actively taking part in the act of commemoration," it was defeated by the governing majority in parliament.[2] A non-partisan plenary vote introduced by the "The Left" party had no chance of passing. The resolution sought to have the parliament agree in 2011 that "it is the conviction of the German Bundestag that the preservation and the maintenance of memorials (...), such as Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bełżec, Chelmno, Majdanek; Sobibór and Treblinka (...) are fundamental responsibilities of the German policy of historical memory" - a conviction not shared by a majority in the German Bundestag.[3]

To make, at least, a symbolic gesture, several parliamentarians proposed that a delegation, with representatives of each of the parliamentary parties, visit the sites of the crimes committed in the framework of "Operation Reinhard" as well as other camps. Cornelia Pieper (FDP), Parliamentary State Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, accepted the proposition and "declared that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could take on the organization of such a trip. The Germany-Poland Parliamentary Group should also participate."[4]

Her acceptance was premature and had not taken into account possible persuasion of the Minister of Finance. The ministry's "War-Time Damage" department keeps an eye on the practical consequences of Germany's "policy of historical memory." November 19, 2012, Pieper renounced the trip.[5] Agnes Krumwiede, spokesperson for cultural policy for the Green Party protested - to no avail. Krumwiede's parliamentary group's research uncovered the fact that "no official delegation of the West German government or parliament has ever visited the former Lublin-Majdanek concentration and extermination camp" [6] - which had been one of the major killing fields of the Nazi's "General Government."

Forty Thousand Euros
Coinciding with the renouncement of this trip, the German government made another blemish on its the policy of historical memory: The ultimate deprivation of the donations made available to the "Train of Commemoration" by several hundred thousand visitors. By the end of 2012, the Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) had obliged that citizens' initiative to pay forty thousand Euros from these donations (for rental of tracks and space at stations). Following years of protests and several petitions to the German Bundestag, the citizens' initiative had hoped to retrieve this money for use in its Sobibór activities in May and June.

However, rather than facilitate the "Train of Commemoration's" Sobibór commemoration, the DB AG reached an agreement with the German Ministry of Transportation to neutralize the 40,000 Euros. That sum was transferred to a federal foundation under the auspices of the Ministry of Finance, the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future" (EVZ), to which the "Train of Commemoration" can apply for a grant. When, in February, the citizens' initiative applied for such a grant to commemorate the victims of Sobibór along the deportation route across Germany, the jaws of the trap snapped shut. The grant was denied.[7]

Ten Thousand Euros More
Should, in spite of this setback, the "Train of Commemoration" decide to commemorate the Sobibór victims along the route, the citizens' initiative calculates, the DB AG will demand another ten thousand Euros.[8] The initiative is hoping for the support of the German population and will begin May 26, to commemorate the small children and youth at ten of the train stations, where they had passed in wagons of the "Reichsbahn" on their way to Sobibór.

Forty Six Wagons
The train is due to stop in Berlin June 8.[9] On that day, seventy years ago, forty six sealed wagons of the "Reichsbahn," carrying 1,296 small children and youth across Germany a stopped briefly in Berlin, and arrived in 'Sobibór on June 11. Within a couple of hours, all one thousand two hundred and ninety six small children and youth had been killed by firing squad or in gas chambers.

Please read also The Commemoration Train, Legal Successors, Not a Cent, Berlin Central Station and Hundred Thousand Euro Offer.

[1] Schreiben AA (Staatssekretärin Emily Haber) vom 03.11.2011
[2] Ausschuss Kultur und Medien; Ausschussdrucksache 17 (22) 70a
[3] Erhalt der Gedenkstätten nationalsozialistischer Vernichtungslager sicherstellen; Deutscher Bundestag, Drucksache 17/7028
[4] Ergebnisse des Berichterstattergespräch zur aktuellen Situation in Sobibór am 7. März 2012 (im Deutschen Bundestag)
[5] Schreiben AA vom 19.11.2012
[6] Die vergessenen Vernichtungslager; Pressemitteilung vom 24. 01.2013
[7] Pressemitteilung vom 17.04.2013
[8] Gedenken trotz Boykott; 18.04.2013
[9] Für die Kinder von Westerbork - Für die Hoffnung von Sobibór. Flyer;
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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