Literature of the Holocaust
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German railways accepts role in deportation of Jews

From: C-reuters@clari.net (Reuter / Deborah Cole)
Subject: German railways accepts role in deportation of Jews
Organization: Copyright 1997 by Reuters
Date: Tue, 27 May 1997 10:21:46 PDT

BERLIN, Germany (Reuter) - German railways Tuesday acknowledged its role in the transport of millions of Jews to Adolf Hitler's death camps, as its chairman laid the foundation for a memorial at the main deportation station in Berlin.

``What happened in the 12 years between 1933 and 1945 is an irrevocable part of the history of the railways just as it is of German history,'' said Heinz Duerr, chairman of national railway company Deutsche Bahn AG.

``Based on this, we have the duty to do whatever is possible to ensure this type of contempt for humanity never again has a chance on German soil or in our company.''

The Reichsbahn, the rail system under Hitler, used its vast European network to transport some three million Jews to their deaths in 12 extermination camps. Six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

The cramped conditions and extremes of temperature on many trains meant that many Jews died during their hellish journeys.

Some historians have said the operation to transport the Jews meant the German war effort was hampered because not enough trains were available to ship weapons and soldiers to the front.

The Grunewald station, in an affluent district of Berlin outside the city center, served as the main deportation site for Jews in Berlin between 1941 and the war's end in 1945.

Duerr and Ignatz Bubis, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, placed a solid copper cylinder in the ground filled with the names and the dates of more than 35,000 Jews transported from Grunewald.

The memorial, to be completed next January, will feature 186 slotted steel grates along Track 17, the point of departure, each engraved with the date of a transport, the number of deportees and the camp it was bound for.

While the Nazis tried to hide their plans for the Jews in Germany and western Europe by packing people into passenger wagons, such appearances were dispensed with in eastern Europe, where Jews were loaded onto cattle and freight cars.

The selection of leafy Grunewald as the main Berlin deportation station was part of the attempt to keep the Holocaust hidden.
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