At the invitation of the Children of Bullenhuser Damm Association, 250 guests including the children’s relatives from the USA, Belgium, England and Hamburg attended the commemorative ceremony on April 20, 2017.
The story of the murder of 20 Jewish children in a former school, Bullenhuser Damm, in Hamburg-Rothenburgsort 72 years ago is being told in books and at holocaust memorials all over the world. The children’s relatives and members of the families James, Zylberberg, Bucci und Mekler attended the commemorative ceremony once again this year. This time they could see two new objects to remember Walter Jungleib by: His stamp album in the exhibition and a commemorative plaque in the rose garden.
Stamp Album and Commemorative Plaque
Walter Jungleib was one of the 20 children between the ages of 5 and 12 who were subjected to medical experiments at the Neuengamme concentration camp from November 1944 until April 1945. In order to cover up the traces of the experiments, the SS guards brought the ten girls and ten boys to the school at Bullenhuser Damm, which had previously been used as a satellite camp, and murdered them in its basement shortly before the end of the war, in April 1945. Last year, Grete Hamburg attended the commemorative ceremony for the first time. She had only found out that her brother Walter was one of the victims at Bullenhuser Damm. She handed over a stamp album which used to belong to Walter to the memorial and it is now a part of the exhibition at Bullenhuser Damm. This is the first time that an object which used to belong to one of the murdered children is exhibited at the memorial. At the same time, a new commemorative plaque for Walter Jungleib, which Greta donated for her brother, was unveiled in the rose garden.
Memorial and Commemorative Ceremony
The Bullenhuser Damm Memorial has existed since 1980. It was founded by a journalist, Günther Schwarberg, who draw the attention of the public to the crime through a series of articles in the STERN Magazine and various publication in 1979. After conducting an extensive research, Schwarberg found some of the relatives of the children and founded the Children of Bullenhuser Damm Association. The association organizes the annual commemorative ceremony on April 20 and maintains contact with the relatives. Since 1999, the Bullenhuser Damm Memorial has been a part of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial. In 2011 the memorial was reconstructed and a new permanent exhibition opened.
The commemorative ceremony took place on April 20 in the gym of the former school at Bullenhuser Damm. In her speech, Federal Councillor Jana Schiedek emphasized the significance of memorials and commemorative ceremonies: “Everything we know about National Socialism and the incomprehensible crimes committed under the regime clearly shows the consequences of racism, antisemitism, terror and repression. Memorials can raise awareness of the fact that human rights and constitutional democracy are not to be perceived as a given, but rather as achievements of civilization which have to be accepted and cultivated. That is why it is very important to keep remembering the fate of the children and adults murdered at Bullenhuser Damm and commemorating them.” After the opening remarks, an actor Rolf Becker read the article “Run, Shifra, run” written by Günther Schwarberg in memory of the recently deceased Shifra Mor. Her sister Bluma Mekler was one of the murdered children. Nicole Mattern, President of the Children of Bullenhuser Damm Association, gave a speech in which talked about her recent trip to Israel, where she visited Yitzhak Reichenbaum, the brother of Eduard Reichenbaum, a boy who was killed at Bullenhuser Damm. This year he was not able to attend the commemorative ceremony. She also emphasized the importance of the remembrance for our lives today. Moreover, she presented/introduced a new bilingual traveling exhibition which tells the story of the children of Bullenhuser Damm, discusses remembrance and deals with the question where discrimination begins. It is directed at young people and can be hired by schools. The students of the Langenhorn School also took part in the commemorative ceremony. They talked about their personal impressions of the memorial and read the names of the murdered children together with students of Van Maerlantlyceum from Eindhoven. Sven van Koetsveld accompanied the ceremony on the piano. Rabbi Schlomo Bistritzky said the Kaddish. In the end, the guests went to the rose garden to lay flowers for the children next to the commemorative Plaques.