Hanover Station Memorial
This is the site of a former train station in Hamburg
, from where trains to the eponymous city of Hanover used to depart, and in WWII
this was where deportation trains departed carrying predominantly Jews to the ghettos and concentration camps in the east.
Originally built in the 19th century and inaugurated in 1872, the station, Hannoverscher Bahnhof in German, lost its role as a passenger station in 1906 when the new Hauptbahnhof (main or central station) opened three quarters of a mile (1.2 km) further north. The Hanover station then became mainly a freight centre for the surrounding harbour infrastructure of the north bank of the Elbe River.
The station’s dark connection began in 1940, when the first of a total of 20 deportation trains
left from here with over 900 Sinti and Roma who were dispatched to a temporary labour camp at Bełżec
(later the site of the first of the three death camps
of Operation Reinhard
). Four more deportation trains in late 1941 took Jews from Hamburg to the ghettos in Łodź
. Of the remaining deportation trains over the course of the years 1941–1945, eleven went to Theresienstadt
and four to Auschwitz
, including one more train with Sinti and Roma. In total over 8000 people were thus sent on a journey that for most was one with no return. The vast majority of these people were murdered.
The station building itself also became a victim of the war and was largely destroyed by bombs during Allied air raids and very few traces of it still survive. This includes a stretch of original rail tracks and part of a platform. In 2016/17 this site was converted into a memorial monument. The main part of this is a row of 20 plaques listing every one of the 20 deportation trains and the names of known victims. Additionally there is a separate memorial stone at the far end of the platform with a general dedication. To get there from the adjacent Lohsepark you have to walk through what is referred to as the “Fuge” (‘groove’ or ‘gap’), a lower pathway cut into the soil with pale red high walls either side.
In the northern part of Lohsepark is an info pavilion, repurposing a former shipping container, called “denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof” with a small but informative exhibition consisting mostly of text-and-photo panels plus a couple of interactive screens with videos/audio recordings. All texts are bilingual (German and English). Covered here are the wider context of the deportations, several individual stories of victims as well as perpetrators, and the development of the memorial. The only “objects” on display are lists of deportees and inventories of confiscated property.
This info pavilion is a stand-in for a proper documentation centre
with a larger permanent exhibition that is to be housed in a building adjacent to Lohsepark that is currently under construction. This centre is scheduled to open in 2023
. It will be another branch of the Neuengamme
memorial (see also Bullenhuser Damm
The open-air memorial monument is freely accessible at all times (but you obviously want to go there in daylight!), the info pavilion is regularly open only from April to October, daily between 12 noon and 6 p.m.; from November to March, the pavilion can only be visited on request. Admission free.
To get there you can use the stop “HafenCity Universität” on the new U4 metro line, which is just at the southern end of Lohsepark. Or you can walk it from the central station and Deichtorhallen using the Oberbaumbrücke rail-and-road bridge to get there from the north. Or it’s also walkable from the Speicherstadt to the west.
- Hanover Station memorial 1 - former platform with name panels
- Hanover Station memorial 2 - original tracks
- Hanover Station memorial 3 - once leading to death, now leading nowhere
- Hanover Station memorial 4 - looking back
- Hanover Station memorial 5 - dedication
- Hanover Station memorial 6 - exhibition container
- Hanover Station memorial 7 - exhibit