02/21/2020 Report

Groundbreaking Ceremony

Excavators and other construction equipment were set up months ago to start the construction of the hotel and office building in Lohsepark, HafenCity. As of 2023 the building will host the Hannoverscher Bahnhof Documentation Center on the ground floor. On February 17, 2020 a groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the start of the construction.

Despite stormy weather, more than 100 guests and media representatives attended the groundbreaking ceremony which started in Lohsepark and continued at the nearby Ecumenical Forum. Detlef Garbe, President of the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centers Commemorating the Victims of Nazi Crimes, gave an opening speech before participating in the groundbreaking ceremony together with Senator Carsten Brosda, Minister of Culture and Media, Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, Chairman of the HafenCity Hamburg and the building contractor Harm Müller-Spreer of the Müller-Spreer Gruppe.

The central part of the Hannoverscher Bahnhof Documentation Center will be a permanent exhibition occupying 800 square meters, which will offer insight into the deportations of more than 8000 Jews, Sinti and Roma from Hamburg and Northern Germany. Between 1940 and 1945 they were deported from this place to ghettos as well as concentration and extermination camps where most of them were murdered. In addition to this, the exhibition will shed light on the subject of sending political opponents to war in the broader context of Nazi persecution. As a learning center, offering modern and innovative formats, the documentation center should primarily appeal to young people. Under the direction of Oliver von Wrochem, Director of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, a team of six has been developing the content of the future permanent exhibition since November 2018. Mr. von Wrochem explains:

“As a place of active confrontation with the past and the present, the documentation center should offer answers to the question how our knowledge about the Nazi crimes affects the way we think and act today? The goal is to inspire visitors to think about their own responsibility in the society in relation to challenges we are facing today, in the time of increasing antisemitism, antiziganism and racism.”

After the groundbreaking, Senator Brosda, Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, Harm Müller-Spreer and Oliver von Wrochen spoke at the ceremony. Apart from the representatives of the associations of the victims of persecution, there were survivors and their relatives in the audience.

In his address, Senator Brosda quoted Lucille Eichengreen (née Landau), a Holocaust survivor from Hamburg who was deported from the Hannoverscher Bahnhof train station and who passed away recently in the United States at the age of 95. In 2017 she spoke at the inauguration of the memorial site and asked why it took 70 years for it to happen. The new exhibition will offer clues to help answer this question. All the officials and guests were pleased about the start of the construction of the documentation center and the opening date in a foreseeable future.

Daniel Bernhardt, Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial