Very impressive! – I am pleased to join this special day by Zoom from Brisbane, Australia. – I wish I could be with you in person!
Accompanied by congratulations from many countries, we officially opened the “Space to Remember” on November 13, 2020. Despite the Corona pandemic, several dozen guests were able to be present live at the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Site at the opening of the “Space to Remember”.
Relatives of former prisoners from Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and even Australia followed the ceremony on the Instagram page of the concentration camp memorial site and on Zoom.
After five years of preparation and planning, the “Space to Remember” is now reality: a place for relatives of former prisoners from all over the world to actively honor their imprisoned family member by name and to express their personal solidarity with him at the historical site of his suffering.
Uta Kühl and Bernhard Esser, co-initiators of the participatory memorial, found moving words for what the “Space to Remember” means to them personally: “For a very, very long time I felt alone. Alone with my rage. Alone with my grief. To know other family members, to share my experiences, to keep the memory alive together, to be vigilant and to fight for a ‘never again’ gives me strength, confidence and determination,” said Uta Kühl in her speech. And Bernhard Esser added: “It is up to all of us whether these posters fade with time and the suffering, death, and Nazi crimes are forgotten, or whether we keep the memory of the prisoners of Neuengamme concentration camp alive and carry their stories out into the public and the world. I would be happy if one day my children and my grandchildren would print a poster here for their grandfather and great-grandfather”.
And Kristof Van Mierop, the General Secretary of the Amicale Internationale KZ Neuengamme, who joined live from Belgium, added: “I can hardly wait to finally see the place with my own eyes. What makes the ‘Space to Remember’ so unique is the very personal commemoration. Not only a name is mentioned here. Relatives can design a poster for their loved one in their very own way”.
Hannes von Coler and Nick Craven from the Studio for Experimental Design at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg, which gave the memorial its shape, once again presented the elements of the memorial: The printing blocks designed by relatives for posters about prisoners of Neuengamme Concentration Camp, which are presented on archive shelves outside at the memorial site. The printing workshop, in which relatives and other visitors can from now on become active themselves and reproduce the posters. The walls on which the posters can be presented. And last but not least, the multilingual website of the “Space to Remember”, on which the final posters are shown worldwide. There, relatives and interested parties can also find information on how to actively participate. Because: remembrance means action!
Barbara Hartje, the chairwoman of the “Freundeskreis” of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Site, Dr. Oliver von Wrochem, director of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Site and co-initiator Halina Kühl also contributed greetings to the opening ceremony. Xian’ang Su from the Hamburg Conservatory accompanied the opening on the saxophone.
After the speeches, the big moment came: In a flurry of camera flashes from the photographers the relatives present brought their posters to the wall. For those who were unable to travel from abroad due to the pandemic, many guests at the opening took up the brush and paste and put up posters on behalf of their families.
Excerpts from the media response to the opening ceremony can be found on the website of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial Site (German).
The first steps have been taken – now the place can continue to grow. Find out more and help!