MEMORIAL TRAIN—AND HOW TRAIN STATION IN WIESBADEN BECOMES CONFRONTATION GROUND BETWEEN THE BUNDESBAHN AND ITS NAZI REICHSBAHN ERA PAST
By Kevin Stoda, Germany
Since Sunday May 24 2009 on platform 5 in Wiesbaden’s train station is found the confrontation ground for the TRAIN TO REMEMBERING (Zug zur Ernnerung) in Hessen, Germany.
I visited the train on Sunday and was struck myself by the lack of advertising and lack of awareness for the TRAIN TO REMEMBERING. The train is a decades-long response to the fact that it took the German Railway system (Bundesbahn) over 4 decades to even admit it had earned well under the Nazis.
The TRAIN TO REMEMBERING has visited hundreds of cities in Germany over the past two years and the intention is that it will continue to travel throughout Germany until, the German Railway and city train stations across the land recognize the war guilt NAZI burden that remains since 1945.
1985 was the first time that the Bundesbahn even recognized it had made a mistake by not reaching out to the millions of slavery and holocaust victims which the Reichs Ministry for Transportation and the Reichsbahn took part in from 1937 and 1945. In tows like Wuppertal and Bielefeld commemorations have been placed at or around the outside of train stations.
However, in other locations, such as in Darmstadt, it too decades for the Bundesbahn to agree to any memorial being placed at the station to the victims of deportation and genocide.
The primary recognition that the Bundesbahn of Germany needs to do is to make it clear that the transportation projects and ongoing greed for Nazi transportation moneys led the leadership of the Ministry of Transport and the Reichsbahn to pursue and earn billions of Reichsmarks transporting Holocaust victims and factory slaves for the Third Reich.
A COVERUP VIDEO
Until this past year, one could go to the website of the German Bundesbahn and see a memorial film from 1985 that showed how poorly the Bundesbahn was dealing with any war guilt and its image. That particular video is part of what visitors at the TRAIN TO REMEMBERING can see–along with stories & photos of young gypsy, Jews, and Slavic children who were forced to ride to their deaths on the rails to Hell under the Nazi regime.
What I most noticed from that old DB (Deutschbahn) video is that every segment started with the refrain that the end of WWII had seen the poor Reichsbahn left with over 8,000,000,000 reichsmark in damages.
The focus in that propaganda film and on the rise of the Bundesbahn in subsequent decades glosses over the fact that the Reichsbahn had helped make a lot of the know-how possible in terms of how to build and rebuild a European transport network possible. The Reichsbahn had shown how to make money and improve a transport network which was having the Hell supposedly bombed out of it from Allie sorties.
INSIDE THE TRAIN (ZUG)
The entrance area to the train cars of TRAIN TO REMEMBERING reveals suitcases on the platform. The suitcases have names of victims of the racist policies of the Nazi regime and those who followed its leadership from 1933 through 1945 in what is now mostly known as Germany, Poland, and Austria.
Inside there is also a sign with the names of 172 children deported from the station I Wiesbaden
However, victims were from all over the continent,too.
There were the escape trains for Jewish children across Europe fleeing to the UK and Scandinavia in the early 1930s. These were called KINDERTRANSPORT TRAINS.
Moreover, there were forced expulsions of thousands of Jews en masse at the Polish borders in the year before the war really kicked off in September of 1939.
All-in-all, there were estimated up to be up to 20 to 30 million victims of the Nazi racist policies (and slave labor policies for factories) who were transported on the Reichsbahn in the late 1930s and 1940s.
Some were transported several times across the continent before they eventually succumbed to death due to overwork or were simply murdered.
Interestingly and sadly, the step-son of the Reichsbahn is the Bundesbahn (DB) and each month the Bundesbahn charges the founders and promoters of this memorial train some 14,000 Euros to transport and permit the exposition of the TRAIN TO REMEMBERING to be shown to schools and the general public.
April’s bill is for over 15,000 Euros.
Therefore, it is probably appropriate that rather than focusing solely on the victims of the Reichsbahn trains to death and labor camps around the continent, the promoters of the TRAIN TO REMEMBERING provide a whole car of the train for the realization of how hard it has been to even reach the stage of public discourse and confrontation with the Deutschebundesbahn (DB) has permitted and indirectly supported commemoration of the criminality of the Reichsbahn and Reichstransport leadership of the Nazi Era.
For example, up until 1985 the Bundesbahn in Essen Germany had a conference room with a bust of Julius Doerpmueller who was not freed until 1949 from the Americans and their allies in the ENTNAZIFICATION Process. (He was released with misgivings because he refused to repent at all for his acts.) Doerpmueller was the head of the Reichsbahn.for the war effort.
This man, Doerpmueller had joined the Nazi leadership in the late 1930s and was seen as an opportunist by most of his countrymen. He therefore oversaw the logistics and implementation of the ENDLOESUNG (Final Solution) for the Jewish Question.
Many Germans use the DB (train often) and many are not happy with the national train service not helping to finance memorials to the Train Transports of the Nazi era.
Here is a link (in German which reflects the disappointment and discontent of some of the Germans who have visited the exhibition in southern Germany.
I hope that public pressure can get behind a more helpful approach to commemoration by the relatively wealthy (DB) German train system. Children who ride trains often will surely be able to relate to the stories of the Holocaust and other anti-human activities by visiting such a train.
NOTE: The DB is planning to go public on the stock exchange in the near future, by the way.
The Deutschbahn or German Railway is one of the better run and more profitable railways in the world, yet, little is done to have its train stations or its leadership recognize any linkages in memory related to the Holocaust or slave labor under the Nazi Regime in the 1930s and 1940s. A train is in Wiebaden to help raise awareness among children and general public this week. The dots need to be connected.