It took a few days to process all the impressions of our trip to Neuengamme. So many impressions and special moments. – At first I thought the term ‘connectedness’ referred to meeting at the poster boards and being active together there. But the meaning goes much deeper when you consider that by creating a poster, a bereaved person feels seen and heard and thus also receives recognition for the grief they themselves have suffered. I feel strongly that this will help to take a step on the road to ‘healing’. I also have so many wonderful encounters with people I do not know around the poster project. This makes my life so much richer.A participant
This year, numerous relatives again travelled to Neuengamme to print posters at the Space to Remember as part of the commemoration of the anniversary of the liberation on 2 May 2023 and to post them on site.
The Space to Remember continues to grow. This year 31 new printing plates were added. For the first time, the shelves in front of the ‘Plattenhaus’ of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial were no longer sufficient – in order to be able to present all the printing plates in the outdoor area of the memorial, shelving levels had to be added.
Since November 2020, the Space to Remember has been open to the public as a place of remembrance by and for relatives of former prisoners of Neuengamme Concentration Camp. The Space to Remember was born out of the wish to create a place where relatives from all over the world could honour their family member imprisoned in KZ-Neuengamme by name and express their personal connection with him or her at the historical site of his or her suffering. The memorial was designed as a growing archive and for the active participation of relatives and visitors. Relatives of former prisoners of Neuengamme Concentration Camp have the opportunity to create a poster about their imprisoned family member. This will be used to create printing plates that will be kept on archive shelves at the Space to Remember. In the on-site printing workshop on the grounds of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial, visitors can then reproduce the posters and hang them on the poster walls.
More than 130 participants followed this year’s event at the Space to Remember. Due to the cold weather, the poster presentation was not held outside this time, but inside the Klinkerwerk.
Three relatives presented their posters and the stories of their families. Riet Schuit from the Netherlands shared the story of her father Hendrikus Schipper, who had been deported from Putten in the Netherlands to the concentration camp in October 1944 before she was born as part of a reprisal action by the German Wehrmacht and died a few weeks later in a satellite camp when he was just 21 years old. He was not allowed to be spoken about in the family and the silence overshadowed Riet’s childhood.
On her poster she wrote:
“No ‘bereaved’. Never named, nowhere mentioned. And then, 70 years later, there it is, in black and white. A daughter was born of Drikus’ relationship with Martha van Galen on 27 May 1945. I EXIST AND AM ALLOWED TO BE!”
Despite the very difficult circumstances, Janina Martynow travelled with her mother and son from Ukraine to Neuengamme for the poster presentation. She presented her poster for her grandfather Mykola Awdeenkow, who survived the concentration camp imprisonment. From the compensation payment he eventually received, he bought her and her sister their first computer. “Here I just want to say that I love him very much,” she wrote on her poster.
Mykola Titow spoke about the story of his uncle, who did not survive imprisonment in the Neuengamme concentration camp, but also about the impact of the current war in Ukraine on his life, from which he had to flee with his family.
The complete speeches can be read on the website of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial under 78th Anniversary of Liberation.
Following the speeches, more than 40 relatives read out the names of their persecuted family members. Afterwards, they went outside to the poster walls to placard together.
Many thanks to all the relatives who attended the poster presentation and to everyone else who contributed to the event!