On August 16, 2021, contemporary witness Marione Ingram from the USA visited the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial together with her husband Daniel. In front of students of the Marion-Dönhoff-Gymnasium and the Louisengymnasium, she read from her book "Kriegskind. A Jewish Childhood in Hamburg" and then spoke with moderator Karin Heddinga and the audience about her experiences in World War II and her political struggle afterwards. The event was organised by Stefanie Engel of the Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium in cooperation with the memorial.
Marione, born in 1935, grew up in Hamburg as the child of a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father. Classified as "half-Jewish" by the National Socialists, she was not allowed to attend school. She had to witness how many of her relatives were deported and was present when her grandmother was deported from the Hamburg Moorweide along with thousands of other Hamburg Jews. Marione herself escaped deportation due to the Hamburg firestorm - the bombing of Hamburg by the British Royal Air Force in July 1943. A bomb hit her apartment building, burning, among other things, the deportation order for her, her sisters and her mother. Her father hid the family in a garden house of friends for the rest of the war. After the war, Marione continued to experience strong anti-Semitism among the German population. At the age of 17, she emigrated to the United States with her mother.
Marione gave a very vivid and detailed account of how she had experienced anti-Semitism in Germany as a child and the horrors of the bombing. Her experiences before and after the war had strengthened her resolve to continue fighting discrimination and not to remain silent in the face of injustice; be it in the 50s and 60s USA - where she was part of the civil rights movement - or in the four years of the Trump presidency, up to the present day. She made an urgent appeal to the students present to work for a better future and to become active with regard to the growing dangers posed by anti-democratic politics and the climate crisis. She expressed her great admiration for the younger generations and described herself as a great fan of young people. Her hope, she said, was that they would use the new technological advances as opportunities to connect internationally and work together for world peace.
It was very impressive to listen to Marione. The experiences of her childhood were strongly etched in her memory and she made a conscious decision not to remain silent. On the contrary, she drew the strength from her experiences to fight all her life against discrimination and for peace. Her unbroken will and hope, but also anger at existing injustices, gave encouragement to those listening, especially in times when one crisis message seems to follow the next. It was difficult not to feel personally addressed and challenged by Marione's powerful words, as she also repeatedly emphasised the responsibility of each and every individual to be responsible for a good future. Marione's visit left a deep impression and we hope and look forward to welcoming her back to Hamburg soon.