Fifty-four survivors of the Neuengamme concentration camp and its satellite camps came from all over Europe, Israel, and the US together with their families to attend the celebrations at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial commemorating the end of the war and the liberation of the concentration camp 70 years ago.
The celebrations on 4 May 2015 culminated in a wreath laying ceremony at the International Monument. Before that, a remembrance ceremony was held in the former brick factory with speeches by the mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz; the survivor and vice president of Amicale Internationale, Janusz Kahl, from Poland; the German State Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Dr Ole Schröder; the French Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, Jean-Marc Todeschini; and the parliamentary group leader of the CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) party in the Netherlands, Sybrand van Haersma Buma, whose grandfather was killed in Neuengamme concentration camp. Eight pupils from Hamburg also gave a moving speech about how they will continue to keep the memory of this place alive – the history and the people. Two young musicians named Danilo and Johanna (both winners of Jugend musiziert, a music competition for young people in Germany) performed the work “Tryptichon”, which was composed by Janusz Kahl, on piano and flute. Guests also included Carola Veit, who is the president of the Hamburg Parliament (Hamburgische Bürgerschaft), as well as representatives of the Federal Republic of Germany, the main churches in Germany and the consular corps. The commemoration ceremony and the wreath laying ceremony at the International Monument were attended by more than 1,000 people.
Prior to these events, on 3 May 2015, survivors and their families visited the place where the concentration camp ships Cap Arcona and Thielbek sunk in the Bay of Lübeck. Then they attended a ceremony held at the Cap Arcona Memorial Plaque in Neustadt in Holstein in remembrance of the 6,600 prisoners who died in the bombing of the ships on 3 May 1945. The speeches were held by Jewgenij Malychin from Ukraine who survived the bombing of the ships on May 3, 1945, prime Minister Torsten Albig, Mayor Tordis Batscheider and representatives of survivors organisations from the Netherlands and Germany.
Other public events observing the anniversary were held all over Hamburg as well as at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. For example, there were conversations with several concentration camp survivors that were attended by more than 600 people, mostly pupils. The speakers included Marko Max Feingold from Austria; Haim Liss, Karla Raveh and Hana Weingarten from Israel; Pascal Vallicioni from France; Livia Fränkel from Sweden; Dagmar Lieblová from the Czech Republic; Bernt Lund from Norway; Natalija Radchenko from Belarus; and Karl Pajuk from Ukraine. The Memorial also organised an academic conference in April called “The Victims and Places of ‘Reprisal’ in Occupied Europe” as well as a forum called “Future of Remembrance” on 5 – 6 May 2015 in which participants addressed how memory is passed on within families and how the work done in memorials will evolve in the future.
Please note: You can view the remembrance ceremony in the former brick factory on 4 May 2015 online.
The full texts of the speeches held on May 3, 2015 in Neustadt-Pelzerhaken:
The full texts of the speeches held on May 4, 2015 in Neuengamme concentration camp memorial:
Ein Krieg endet nicht, wenn die Waffen schweigen (Bergedorfer Zeitung)
Hamburgs schrecklichster Ort (Die Welt)
Als ich hier rauskam, wog ich 42 Kilo (Morgenpost)
Tote trieben in der Lübecker Bucht (Süddeutsche Zeitung)