In Stuttgart, such as everywhere in Germany, more than 2,500 people of Jewish descent and over 240 Sinti and Roma were forced to gather at Killesberg, had to march to the premises of the inner North Station and were then deported to camps in Riga, Izbica, Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. Only few survived.
Stuttgart was one of the starting points of the crime of the Shoa, which eventually terminated in the hell of the concentration camps.
Also in Stuttgart, this dark past has been suppressed to a great extent for about 60 years and only came to the public’s notice, when staff members of the Infoladen and Stiftung Geisstraße became aware of the topic in the late 1990’s. They were then planning on saving remembrance of the horrid activities from obliviscence.
Within the premises of the inner North Station (today called Otto-Umfrid-Straße) – the very place from which the people were forced upon the trains – the original tracks, the rails, the sleepers and the buffer stops were still intact. Given the place’s historic significance and importance, people eventually called for the location to be actively preserved and used as a memorial to commemorate the cruel events happening in the past. This aimed at preventing a slow, yet steady eradication of all traces with time. As locations are also capable of telling stories, this place has been created as a SIGN OF COMMEMORATION, in remembrance of the victims from the past. The reduced and subtle architecture was created by Anne Christin and Ole Saß and respects the particular spirit of the location, which contributes to the notion of remembrance.
Identifying the victims and sharing their names is the main concern of both the memorial and the association maintaining it. This is a continuing matter, as contemporary Holocaust research constantly identifies new victims whose names have been overlooked, so far. Thus, two years after the memorial was created, 271 further names have been added to the wall – names of Wuerttemberg’s deported Sinti and Roma. Current studies lead to further 435 names of Jewish victims from various deportations. They have been added to the wall in between the existing lines in early summer 2022.
The association SING OF COMMEMORATION regards remembrance as a public duty given by society as a whole, the city of Stuttgart, the region and the country. The events that happened in the past, were conducted in the name of the respective society, open, among the public sphere. It is a crucial part of our historical heritage. The memorial site is a vigorous admonition for society to constantly reflect their historical obligation and responsibility and a reminder to actively contribute to preventing such events in the present and the future. It is a sign of hope for a world without violence, no antisemitism, no racism, no xenophobia and no violation of human rights. May the memorial site within the inner North Station function as a place of warning and commemoration.
Creating the memorial site was only possible with broad private and public funding. Indeed, we continue to need and welcome any form of support, be it conceptual or financial. We thank you in advance for any donation made to BW Bank (IBAN DE82 6005 0101 0002 6058 43). On the association’s homepage you will find further and extensive information on the events in the 3rd Reich, the names of the victims and those of many perpetrators, photos, sources, current activities and much more.
translated by Mathias Geiger, Stuttgart
Deportations from Stuttgart
Previous to the deportations, the victims were segregated in so-called “Jewish apartments” and obligatory retirement homes. There was an economic aspect to it: Stuttgart was short of housing. The people in power were working hand in hand: The factory complex Heinkel-Hirth-Werke capacitated rural premises in exchange for 60 flats for their workers, the city of Stuttgart actively helped by “providing” respective housing.
At the same time, preparations for the deportations began. Stuttgart was one of 16 places from which deportation trains started. Mid November 1941, the Gestapo main office informed the Jewish representation about a deportation which was scheduled on December, 1st, 1941. This was disguised as a mere geographical relocation and ordered the Jewish representation to select 1000 people – a devious attempt to make them accomplices. Within a few days, the people selected had to prepare their belongings orderly, only for it to be comfortably collected by the ones who robbed it. (Adler). In the meantime, the premises of the Reich’s horticultural show of 1939 have been converted into a collection camp, situated at Killesberg.
On the morning of 1st December 1941, the train left the inner North Station for Riga. After three days and nights, the deported reached an improvised camp on the grounds of Gut Jungfernhof, where one person died after the other quickly. On 26th March 1942, SS- and police troops shot over 1,600 people in Bikernieki forest, many among them were those originally abducted from Stuttgart. In total, 42 people survived the cruelties and murderous actions.
The second deportation to the transit ghetto Izbica in the district Lublin on 26th April 1942 affected 273 people from Wuerttemberg-Hohenzollern, as well as 260 people from Baden, Palatinate and Luxembourg. No one survived.
The third great deportation from the North Station took place on 22nd August 1942. The victims had to pay for the train ride, as well as an “entrance fee” and a “board fee” calculated for five years in advance. The destination were the former Habsburg barracks in Theresienstadt. Half of the deported died within the first two months of their arrival, the ones who initially survived the hardships could be sent to a death camp any time.
Public authorities, NS-organisations and neighbours argued about the deportees’ possessions left, partly during public compulsory auctions. The city of Stuttgart, in example, successfully claimed Jewish retirement homes.
Along with five deportations in 1943 January 1944, more than 120 people have been deported, many among them were single individuals. Next, the remaining partners of so-called “mixed-marriages “came into the focus, as soon as they lost their protection after their Arian spouse divorced them or died. Even while facing the downfall of the 3rd Reich in January 1945, the regime displaced 58 people to Theresienstadt and did not show any consideration for their privileged “mixed marriages” status. In Stuttgart, only two dozen Jews survived, partly in hiding, along with some Jewish partners in “mixed marriages”.
The following summer, only few survivors came back. Many followed relatives and friends into emigration. The new Jewish municipal was later formed by survivors from Eastern Europe primarily. The first representors however, were people who resided in Stuttgart originally, such as Benno Ostertag und Alfred Marx, who both survived thanks to the loyalty of their wives and Josef Warscher, who came back from Buchenwald. After the Shoa, they were brave enough to restart their lives as Jewish Germans.
original text Roland Müller
translated by Mathias Geiger, Stuttgart