On the occasion of his 100th birthday, we commemorate Robert Pinçon, to whom the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial owes a lot.
100 years ago, on 25 February 1922, Robert Pinçon was born in Tours, France. He dedicated his life and work to the preservation of the memory of the victims of National Socialist crimes and to the establishment of a fitting memorial on the former concentration camp site in Neuengamme. As president of the Amicale Internationale de Neuengamme for many years he was committed to international understanding. For his work, Robert Pinçon was awarded the Federal Cross of Merit in Hamburg in 2010.
Robert Pinçon was an important partner and source of ideas for the Neuengamme concentration camp memorial for many years. The closure of the two prisons on the grounds of the former concentration camp in 2003 and 2006, as well as the transfer of the entire former camp grounds to the memorial, is largely due to Robert Pinçon and his persistent efforts.
At his funeral ceremony, his family told of how he considered Neuengamme to be ‘his place’. It was the place to which he was deported in July 1944 as a 22-year-old resistance fighter, we he was forced to perform forced labour and was brought to the limits of his physical strength. But Neuengamme was also the place where he triumphed over fate. He experienced his liberation in the Bay of Lübeck, where he was freed by the Swedish Red Cross at the beginning of May 1945 and thus escaped the bombardment of the concentration camp ships. Neuengamme was the place that never let go of him from then on, for which he worked tirelessly and to which he returned countless times.
Today, 10 years after his death and on the occasion of his 100th birthday, we remember our esteemed friend and would like to quote his words on 3 May 2010, on the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Neuengamme Concentration Camp, in the Great Ceremonial Hall of Hamburg City Hall:
"Time has passed, but the memory of all these comrades always lives on in us. For 65 years, not a single day has gone by without our thoughts taking us back to Hamburg and Neuengamme, if only because of the suffering experienced here. This earth is ours too. I am probably not the only one who feels this, and in this town hall I would like to say in the language of Goethe, Schiller, Thomas Mann, Günter Grass and so many others on behalf of all the deportees: 'Wir sind alle Hamburger!´"