In an event titled, “80 years after Deportations from Hamburg,” Stefan Wilbricht discussed “Hannoverscher Bahnhof,” the center where many Jewish people were deported from Hamburg, Germany. Wilbricht is the curator of a documentation center that is being created to honor those who were deported. Currently, a team of nine is working on an exhibition to commemorate those who were deported. There were four transports from Hamburg that happened in 1941. The transport on Nov. 8 sent individuals to Minsk, Belarus.
The deportations began only a few weeks after World War II started, with many people being transported or deported. Many people were deported to Eastern Europe. The Jewish and Romani people were specifically targeted. Specifically on Nov. 10 and 11, many Jewish men were arrested and sent to concentration camps.
Wilbricht specifically highlighted a letter that Rudolf Querner wrote to his friend Karl Kaufmann regarding the deportations. The deportation on Nov. 8 was supposed to happen eight days earlier, however, it was late due to lack of supplies, therefore people were given more time to pack. Before people were transported out of Hamburg, the ones who were being deported had to gather in front of a lodge house. Wilbricht highlights how no one intervened to stop these deportations and those who were not deported actually benefited from the deportations as they could find jobs and had more resources.
Wilbricht displayed the tombstones of those who were deported, along with a memorial site for people who were deported that was inaugurated in 2007. It was built at the site where the train that deported these people used to be and includes a plaque of those who were deported.
Wilbricht also showed an interview with Lucille Eichengreen, a survivor of the Łódź Ghetto and multiple Nazi concentration camps. Eichengreen explained that the Gestapo delivered a letter to her family and other families living in the same house that they were being deported. She took a coat, clothes and letters. Over one thousand people were deported along with her and put into cars with wooden benches. She highlights that “the trip was quiet except for whimpering children.” They had to bring their own food and arrived at their destination after two days. Eichengreen stands for those who cannot tell their stories because they were murdered.
After a question from Professor Sabine von Mering (GER/WGS) asking about why the deportations never received much attention, Wilbricht explained that the most important part in the first few years after the war was remembering those who died. Therefore it took some time before people thought about the deportations and took action to remember those who were deported.
Wilbricht explains that he got involved in this line of work when he got an internship where he got in contact with survivors of a concentration camp. He realized that these stories were important and he wanted to make the stories of these survivors accessible to others. Wilbricht explains that we have to look to the mechanics of why this happened. The stories of those people open doors into understanding how the families of those who were deported have dealt with this trauma.