A large Holocaust
memorial in Lodz
, that incorporates the station from which the Jews of the local Litzmannstadt ghetto were transported mostly to the death camp
. In addition to the station building with a small exhibition inside and a couple of deportation cattle wagons outside, complete with a steam locomotive in front, there's a newer tunnel-like monument that is extremely atmospheric.
This small train station was located just north of the edge of the Litzmannstadt ghetto, and was therefore convenient for shipping goods to the ghetto as well as out (e.g. items produced by forced labour by the ghetto inmates, such as shoes and clothing).
After the war the site long remained largely forgotten. The station itself was closed in the 1970s and more or less abandoned. A train line still runs right past it though.
Only from 2003 was the old station turned into a memorial. For that purpose the original old wooden station building was thoroughly refurbished and a large memorial monument landscape created around it, including the tunnel and crematorium-like structure to the west of the station (this part was designed by Czesław Bielecki). It was unveiled in August 2005.
The memorial/museum is a branch of the Museum of Independence
in central Lodz
– just like the Radogoszcz prison memorial
. Radogoszcz, by the way, is just the Polish spelling of Radegast. The two sites are (were) technically speaking in the same district (now part of the larger Baluty district).
What there is to see: The memorial complex has several parts. The core is the old wooden station building itself. This also houses a small museum exhibition. Next to it a short train serves as the largest authentic exhibit at the site. Around these are several memorial stones and plaques. And to the west is the largest of them all, the Tunnel of Deportation.
The station building is made of dark wood and has a sign saying “Radegast” in old script on the front. Along the platform to the left a train is parked, consisting of four original cattle carriages (such as were used in the deportations) and a large grey steam locomotive in front. It almost looks like the train is ready to depart again at any moment.
The train cars
bear the legend “Deutsche Reichsbahn” and “Kassel” (see Sepulchral museum
), which presumably was the place where they were originally stationed. The doors of the train cars are open, so you can even go inside. Apparently many people hesitate to actually do so. I did, though, and can confirm you get hit by quite an oppressive, soul-stifling feeling, imagining the conditions the actual deportees had to endure on these trains.
Along a wall
to the right of the station several memorial plaques
can be found. Most are multilingual, including one with a short historical note provided by the Topography of Terror
Foundation in Berlin
. There's also one from Vienna
which acknowledges the deportations of the nearly 5000 Viennese Jews who were relocated to Lodz
– and the closing line poignantly reads: “The city of Vienna commemorates its Jewish citizens in mourning and shame” (a clear sign that it must be a more recent plaque! cf. Auschwitz
Another plaque commemorates the deportations of Sinti & Roma from Austria
to the Litzmannstadt ghetto. Other plaques are dedicated to individuals or specific families, yet others more generally to all “Jewish Martyrs” from Lodz and its surroundings.
inside the station building has two parts
, a general one and one dedicated to a specific case … both literally and figuratively: the central object on display here is a suitcase
that has written in large letters on the front: “E & A Schwarz”. As a sign in (somewhat broken) English explains: Anii and Erich Schwarz were deportees from Vienna
who arrived at the ghetto in Lodz in November 1941 and who were sent to their deaths in Chelmno
in May 1942. The suitcase was later found in the attic of the tenement building in Lodz where they had been housed prior to their murder.
The main part of the museum consists of large photo panels, some text panels, original documents, a map of the ghetto, and a row of folders with more in-depth information that one could study at a large table in the centre. At the back of the room is a large scale model of the whole Litzmannstadt ghetto made with incredible attention to detail.
However, the most impressive part of the Radegast memorial, I found, is the Tunnel
of Deportation monument
. This is not a genuine tunnel but a very oblong concrete building that feels like a tunnel once you're inside. Along the inner walls inscriptions provide the core historical information (in Hebrew and English) in the form of a timeline of the Holocaust
. On the left side this is accompanied with displays of deportation lists, whereas on the right glass cases on the wall display archaeological finds (presumably from the ghetto), such as rusty scissors, fragments of crockery and also some photos.
At the end of the tunnel there is light again, both from a fiercely blazing eternal flame and daylight that filters in from the side, and, especially, the top: through the inside of a chimney of sorts. All this is of course highly symbolic. Around the flame the walls bear the names of the places Jews were deported from to Lodz and further on to their deaths. This end part of the tunnel memorial is like a symbolic crematorium.
This is even more evident when viewed from the outside. At the far end of the car park (and the coach parking) you can get a good perspective and can see the chimney properly. Above the symbolic iron gate (with a Star of David set into it) at the base of the symbolic crematorium the line “Thou shalt not kill” is inscribed (also in Hebrew and Polish).
I found the tunnel part of the Radegast memorial extremely effective and atmospheric. Definitely one of the better designs of a Holocaust memorial and it's worth visiting this site for this alone. It's a bit of an effort getting here, but I would say of all the dark sites in Lodz, this has to be the No. 1 must-see place.
in the north-east of Lodz
, at aleja Pamięci Ofiar Litzmannstadt Getto, which branches off Inflancka boulevard just north of the Jewish cemetery.
Access and costs: A bit out of the city but not too far for walking; free.
You can walk to the memorial, though it's rather far and the route isn't necessarily the most scenic (but leads through the former ghetto, so is historically interesting – see under Lodz
). Alternatively you can simply get a taxi up here, and then maybe just walk it one-way back to the city. One-way it's about 2.5 miles (4 km), or a bit more when combined with the Jewish cemetery that's nearby.
If you have a car, you can easily get here from central Lodz by following the main northbound road Zgierska (route 91) from the Manufaktura complex and then turn right into Julianowska, and then slight right into Inflancka (route 72). Al. Pamięci Ofiar Litzmannstadt Getto branches off to the left on the intersection with Zagajnikowa. Ignore the coach parking on your left and carry on to the passenger car park further on closer to the actual station building.
Public transport is only partially helpful for getting here, e.g. by tram (lines 1, 5 and 6) to Strykowska (1111) near the Jewish cemetery and then walking from there.
Opening times: Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Fridays.
Guided tours in English (for groups from 10 participants) can be arranged in advance (phone 783 75 53 91 ) and cost 30 PLN.
Time required: I spent about 45 minutes at this site, but you could probably spend a lot longer here if you want to study all the written material in the museum.
Combinations with other dark destinations
: in general see under Lodz
The large Jewish cemetery is just a short distance south of the Radegast station memorial. If you're here by car you should perhaps best leave your vehicle parked at Radegast station and walk it, since parking at the cemetery would be tricky (if possible at all – I didn't even try). Walk westwards to the big Inflancka boulevard and to its end at the intersection with Stykowska. Use the pedestrian crossing here and then follow the small track (Zmienna) west of the big road southwards until you come to the grand entrance to the cemetery.
By car you could also combine Radegast station with a visit of the Radogoszcz prison memorial
, which is a ca. 10-minute drive (3 miles/4.5 km) away to the west.
Further afield, an obvious combination would of course be the memorial site of the death camp
, where most of the Jews dispatched from Radegast station were murdered by gassing.
See also under Poland
Combinations with non-dark destinations:
not much anywhere nearby. You'd have to head back to central Lodz
- Radegast 01 - station
- Radegast 02 - station, platform and train
- Radegast 03 - steam train
- Radegast 04 - deportation train carriage
- Radegast 05 - from Kassel
- Radegast 06 - exhibition in the station building
- Radegast 07 - exhibit
- Radegast 08 - model of the ghetto
- Radegast 09 - memorial stones
- Radegast 10 - tunnel memorial
- Radegast 11 - inside
- Radegast 12 - exhibits of archaeological finds
- Radegast 13 - deeper into the tunnel
- Radegast 14 - light at the end of the tunnel
- Radegast 15 - eternal flame
- Radegast 16 - looking up the chimney above the flame
- Radegast 17 - chimney at the end of the tunnel seen from the street
- Radegast 18 - back at the entrance to the tunnel