Traces of World War II
Except for memories, memorials, gravestones and plaques, the land where many suffered and died in WWII is almost mute.
This photo gallery starts in the concentration camp Terezin at the door to the barracks where my oma lived in 1944-1945. It leads past a cell to the Ohre River where the Nazis dumped the ashes of 22,000 Jews at the end of the war. There is a memorial by the river beside a weeping willow.
I spotted the first of the WWII bunkers on the right side of the Labe in the Czech Republic. We also saw train cars and a train station reminiscent of the terrible times of human transport.
Dresden's new synagogue has the look of a fortress. At the nearby Dresden-Neustadt train station a plaque reminds commuters that Jews were transported to their deaths via this facility. One of the witnesses told me that the bodies of the dead from the Dresden bombings were burned on wooden pyres and the ashes ploughed under where tourists now frolic.
In Torgau, one bridge abutment stands to commemorate the meeting of the Allies and Russians at the Elbe in April 1945. In the far corner of the photo stands the new bridge.
Outside Wittenberg we saw an inauspicious looking hill behind an iron gate. The hill was created by the wastes from Wittenberg's chemical industry. Without the help of the memories of our hotel host, Mr Kobbe, we wouldn't have known that the hills buried the site of a forced labour camp.
In Dessau's Jewish cemetery we saw a wall of gravestones. They stand as testimony to Kristallnacht desecration Nov 1938. A small memorial by a train station shows those who died defending a bridge near Tangermuende. The Jewish graveyard in Tangermuende, like many others in Germany, is locked.
David stands inside the Berlin memorial to those murdered in WWII. A stone memorial,project planned for and carried out by the students of Ulla Seeger near Nitzow reminds of the forced labour camp Glowen. Charlotte Voigt lies buried in a small cemetery in Damnatz. I stand beside desecrated Jewish gravestones in Hitzhacker. In the same graveyard, a stone to a German officer still bears the sign of the swastika!
Outside Hitzhacker lie the remnants of a huge subterranean fuel storage bunker. The Nazis bought the land in 1934 and had it fenced by 1936. Trees were planted above the super secret facility and the roads were painted green so that aerial surveillance wouldn't find it. We needed a guide to find the remnants
Hamburg's Jewish graveyard, like many others, is protectively fenced. Even in death, these Jewish individuals find themselves behind barbed wire. Finally in the large Hamburg cemetery Ohlsdorf where I went to visit my oma's grave, we saw the graves of allied men who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we now enjoy.
Currents … cross-currents … much to ponder.