Showing posts with label Neuengamme. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Neuengamme. Show all posts

Remaining Nazi Sites in Bremen and Hamburg

Bremen from the bank of the river Weser overlooking Adolf-Hitler-Brücke towards Propsteikirche St. Johann in the 1930s and today. 
On December 2, 1922, the first Bremer local chapter of the Nazi Party was founded. Its membership from 1925 to 1927 was between 80 and 100. In 1928 the Nazis obtained only 1.1 percent of the vote. The local group was divided, and their chairs often changed. Its director Carl Röver Bremer disbanded the local group and they started again. It formed three party districts in the city: Old Town, East and West.  
On September 14, 1930 before the general election Adolf Hitler visited the city for the first time and on July 30th he gave a campaign speech at the Weser Stadium . In the election in Bremen about twelve percent of the electorate voted for the Nazis compared to 18.2% in the rest of the country. By the next election on 28 November following another visit by Hitler, the Nazi Party had 1000 members and received 25.4% of the vote with 32 seats in the Bremen State Parliament.

After the war, with the bridge's current incarnation renamed the Stephanibrücke

The main railway station is all but unchanged today apart from the swastikas. In 1991, a commemorative plaque was placed at the main station on the western side referring to the Nazi era. It has been located since 2001 on the south side of the façade next to the left entrance portal. The inscription commemorates both Operation Barbarossa when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in 1941 and the deportation of 570 Jews from Bremen and the surrounding area to Minsk on November 18 later that year. The Jewish population around Bremen numbered approximately 2,000 in 1933, including 1,314 living in the city. During Kristallnacht five Jews in Bremen were murdered and Jewish men were imprisoned in the Bremen-Oslebshausen gaol until mid-December. By 1941 over 400 Jews had managed to emigrate whilst roughly 500 were deported directly from the city between November 1941 and September 1942, including 180 from the Jewish seniors' home. Most of the deportees were murdered or massacred by hunger and cold in the Minsk ghetto; only six of the deported. Jews survived. Other Bremen Jews were deported from different German cities and places of refuge outside Germany. The Jewish community was revived after the war, and a new synagogue was inaugurated in 1961.
Hitler's portrait hanging on the wall of the Kaiserzimmer in the Ratskeller, now removed
The entrance to the Bremer Dom then and now.
During the war the cathedral was hit in 1943 by an air attack on Bremen. The damage was initially limited; only the panes of the southern end were broken. In the ensuing war years the church suffered further bomb hits. In March 1945 an explosive bomb exploded on the north side of the cathedral. As a result, parts of the vault fell into the North Sea. The entire building was at risk of collapse. Some troubles of this attack are still a memorial in the cathedral. Already immediately after the end of the war began in 1946 the restoration of the roof-deck of the northern end took place until finally in 1950 the destroyed vault was restored.
The statue of Roland in the market square and  Louis Tuaillon's Rosselenker during the Nazi era and today. Of the latter during the war it constituted part of a bronze group in the Kunsthalle and from 1951 to 1953 in an overseas museum although since 1953 it has been back at the old location.
Police headquarters before the war and today. Bremen during the Nazi era was home to two special police battalions, one of which was the 303rd police battalion, founded in Bremen in 1940. It was later involved in the infamous massacre at Babi Yar in the Ukraine where more than 30,000 Jewish men, women and children were shot and killed over a period of a mere two days.  Bremen's other special police task force, the 105th police battalion, had a part in deporting Dutch Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Bremen's police force moved to a new headquarters in 1999 and their old base was converted into a public library, where one room serves to educate people about this particular dark period which begins in 1918 rather than in 1933, when Hitler seized power given that already immediately after the war the police was made up of men who had previously served in the Freikorps and in the Kaiser's army, thus leaving room for very few democrats and thus it's hardly surprising that Bremen's police force quickly threw its weight behind the Nazi regime when Hitler seized power in 1933.
The Hotel Columbus flying Nazi flags and how it appears today

The swastika flying over the Rotesandleuchtturm lighthouse

The Baumwollbörse from a vintage postcard and today

The Haus des Reichs on Rudolf-Hilferding-Platz. Built 1928-1931 by the largest European wool processing company with more than 20,000 employees at the start of construction. In 1934 it became the office of the Reich Finance Administration where it changed its name from the Kontorhaus, and later housed the Gauleiter of Bremen. It survived the war intact and became the seat of the Military Government for Bremen and Bremerhaven in the American occupation zone. From 1947, the Bremen fiscal authorities took over the building.
Robinson-Crusoe-Haus and Haus Atlantis on Martinistraße July 6, 1941 and today
Entrance to Böttcherstraße in the 1930s and today, with Bernhard Hoetger’s Lichtbringer dating from 1936. On the right is the interior showing two Nazi flags, one of which is that of the RKB- the Reichskolonialbund, an organisation devoted to the recovery of Germany's African colonies lost through the Treaty of Versailles. It lost favour during the war until finally in 1943 the Reichsleiter Martin Bormann pressed for its dissolution on the grounds of "kriegsunwichtiger Tätigkeit" ("activity irrelevant to the war"). Hence the Reichskolonialbund was swiftly disbanded by a decree of the Führer in 1943. 

 Böttcherstraße after the war
The Faulenquartier after the war and today
Am Wall in 1936 given the Olympic flags and today
Obernstraße in 1938 and today looking towards the Cathedral and, right,looking towards the cathedral from the northern end of Wachtstraße in 1939 and now

Sögestraße in 1938 and today

Also on Sögestraße 59 on the façade of Allianz-Haus this Nazi eagle remains, not far from where the monument by Ulrich Rückriem, christened Der Böse, was inaugurated in 1988 from the granite ruins
Hillmannplatz was named after the former Hillmann hotel shown in this nazi-era postcard, built by Johann Heinrich Hillmann in 1847 and which was destroyed during the war.
Mühle am Wall May 18, 1941 and today
 Weserstadion, since extensively rebuilt after the war. On July 20, 1932 Hitler spoke here, declaring that "For me it will be easier to answer before history for the destruction of thirty parties than for those who founded them."
Shortly before Hitler had landed in Bremen, he had given the crowds gathered in the Weser Stadium an effective demonstration of his Promethean qualities. He had instructed the pilot to circle over the stadium in the dark night sky with the cabin illuminated. The result was an eerie, otherworldly scene, and many in the audience were left with the impression that Hitler had actually descended to earth as a sort of god. What had been conceived as mere fantasy by Benson in his book, The Lord of the World, seemed to become reality.
Domarus (146) The Complete Hitler
Gauleiter Telschow Platz, named after Otto Telschow, a Nazi Party official who had joined the Nazi Party in 1925, and was the founder of the regional Nazi newspaper, the Niedersachsen-Stürmer. In October 1928, Telschow was appointed Gauleiter (regional party leader) of the Nazi party's regional subsection Gau Eastern Hanover, a post he retained until the end of World War II. Telschow gained more influence after 1935, when the Nazi-party Gaue usurped the functions of the streamlined German states. In 1930 he was elected to the Reichstag for the Ost-Hannover electoral district, and remained a member until 1945. He was taken prisoner by the British Army at Lüneburg and committed suicide in prison by slashing his wrists.
Shown immediately after the war and today, now renamed Theodor-Heuss-Platz with the statue of city founder Johann Smidt remains in situ. It was here in May 1934 that the first KdF cruise departed from Bremerhaven en route to Heligoland. On December 14 that year, Hitler made a surprising appearance at the launching of the East Asia steamer Scharnhorst in Bremen accompanied by Blomberg, Raeder, von Eltz-Rübenach (Reich Minister of Transportation), and Economics supremo Schacht. He then proceeded to Bremerhaven to tour the Lloyd express liner Europa and the armoured ship Admiral Scheer.
The following year on May 4, Hitler toured the new East Asia steamer Scharnhorst in Bremerhaven and commented in a short speech on the inauguration of “this most modern and fastest ship in the East Asia line” of the Norddeutsche Lloyd.
SA demonstration on the square November 27, 1938. On the right is the stadttheater after the war on the square and today.

Hauptstadt der deutschen Schiffahrt (Capital of German Shipping)  
Adolf-Hitler-Platz then and now. In the Third Reich, Hamburg was a Gau from 1934 until 1945. During World War II, Hamburg suffered a series of Allied air raids which devastated much of the city and the harbour. On 23 July 1943, RAF firebombing created a firestorm which spread from the Hauptbahnhof (central train station) and quickly moved south-east, completely destroying entire boroughs such as Hammerbrook, Billbrook and Hamm-south. Thousands of people perished in these densely populated working-class boroughs. Whilst some of the boroughs destroyed were rebuilt as residential districts after the war, others such as Hammerbrook are nowadays purely commercial districts with almost no residential population. The raids, codenamed Operation Gomorrah by the RAF, killed at least 42,600 civilians; the precise number is not known. About one million civilians were evacuated in the aftermath of the raids.  The Hamburg Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery is in the greater Ohlsdorf Cemetery in the north of Hamburg.  At least 42,900 people are thought to have perished in the Neuengamme concentration camp about 16 miles outside the city in the marshlands), mostly from epidemics and in the bombing of Kriegsmarine evacuation vessels by the Royal Air Force at the end of the war.  Hamburg had the greatest concentration of Jews in Germany. Systematic deportations of Jewish Germans and Gentile Germans of Jewish descent started on 18 October 1941. These were all directed to Ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe or to concentration camps. Most deported persons perished in The Holocaust. By the end of 1942 the Jüdischer Religionsverband in Hamburg was dissolved as an independent legal entity and its remaining assets and staff were assumed by the Reichsvereinigung der Juden in Deutschland (District Northwest). On 10 June 1943 the Reichssicherheitshauptamt dissolved the Reichsvereinigung by a decree. The few remaining employees not somewhat protected by a mixed marriage were deported from Hamburg on  June 23 to Theresienstadt, where most of them perished.
The Hamburger rathaus flanked with Nazi flags at Adolf-Hitler-Platz and today at the renamed rathausplatz.
The Grossen Festsaal inside has changed little from the time Hitler spoke within
Hitler speaking from the rathaus balcony on February 14, 1939 and how it appears today
Former Gestapo Headquarters at Stadthausbrücke 8
The Hansekogge, firm logo for the Hamburger Tageblatt newspaper, on the façade of the Pressehaus. Designed by Richard Kuöhl, it maintains the circle around a now expunged swastika. 

The elegant Stellahaus, adorned with Nazi flags and banners on August 17, 1934 on the occasion of Hitler being appointed Führer and Reichschancellor.
The Nazi war memorial on the Dammtordamm, still with its exhortation that "Deutschland muss leben und wenn wir sterben müssen" (Germany must live if we must die)
After the allied air strike from Operation Gomorrah of July 1943 making the complex to a large extent useless for the use by the police. Today the former city hall is to be the site for a documentation centre by 2013
 Prien-Haus then and now- a classic example of Nazi architecture built 1935
Chille Haus and Ballin Haus then and now
Der Alsterpavillon and its current incarnation
The main railway station sporting the swastika and today
U-Bahn station Rödingsmarkt
The  U-Bahn station Rödingsmarkt then and now
In the 1930s, after Hitler came to power, Hamburg's opera house was renamed Hamburgische Staatsoper.  On the night of 2 August 1943, both the auditorium and its neighbouring buildings were destroyed during air raids by fire-bombing; a low-flying airplane dropped several petrol and phosphorus containers on to the middle of the roof of the auditorium, turning it into a conflagration. 
Hitler in attendance in 1935, and the interior today   
The  Reeperbahn before the Beatles and today
Opened in 1909, Hitler spoke here at the Hotel Atlantik a number of times. Kershaw relates the first such time:                                                   

Hopes of gaining financial support and of winning influential backing for his party had made him keen to accept the invitation of the prestigious Hamburger Nationalklub to address its members in the elegant Hotel Atlantic on 28 February 1926. It was not his usual audience. Here, he faced a socially exclusive club whose 400– 450 members were drawn from Hamburg’s upper bourgeoisie – many of them high-ranking officers, civil servants, lawyers, and businessmen. His tone was different from that he used in the Munich beerhalls. In his two-hour speech, he made not a single mention of the Jews. He was well aware that the primitive antisemitic rantings that roused the masses in the Zircus Krone would be counter-productive in this audience. Instead, the emphasis was placed entirely on the need to eliminate Marxism as the prerequisite of Germany’s recovery... to his well-heeled bourgeois audience in Hamburg, anti-Marxist to the core, his verbal assault on the Left was music to the ears... The more Hitler preached intolerance, force, and hatred, as the solution to Germany’s problems, the more his audience liked it. He was interrupted on numerous occasions during these passages with cheers and shouts of ‘bravo’. At the end there was a lengthy ovation, and cries of ‘Heil’.
Kershaw also relates the following revealing anecdote:  
Albert Krebs, the one-time Gauleiter of Hamburg, related a scene from early 1932 that reminded him of a French comedy. From the corridor of the elegant Hotel Atlantik in Hamburg he could hear Hitler plaintively shouting: ‘My soup, [I want] my soup.’ Krebs found him minutes later hunched over a round table in his room, slurping his vegetable soup, looking anything other than a hero of the people. He appeared tired and depressed. He ignored the copy of his speech the previous night that Krebs had brought him, and to the Gauleiter’s astonishment, asked him instead what he thought of a vegetarian diet. Fully in character, Hitler launched, not waiting for an answer, into a lengthy diatribe on vegetarianism. It struck Krebs as a cranky outburst, aimed at overpowering, not persuading, the listener. But what imprinted the scene on Krebs’s memory was how Hitler revealed himself as an acute hypochondriac to one to whom he had presented himself up to then ‘only as the political leader, never as a human being’. Krebs did not presume that Hitler was suddenly regarding him as a confidant. He took it rather as a sign of the party leader’s ‘inner instability’. It was an unexpected show of human weakness which, Krebs plausibly speculated, was over-compensated by an unquenchable thirst for power and resort to violence. According to Krebs, Hitler explained that a variety of worrying symptoms – outbreaks of sweating, nervous tension, trembling of muscles, and stomach cramps – had persuaded him to become a vegetarian. He took the stomach cramps to be the beginnings of cancer, leaving him only a few years to complete ‘the gigantic tasks’ he had set himself. ‘I must come to power before long ... I must, I must,’ Krebs has him shouting. But with this, he gained control of himself again. His body-language showed he was over his temporary depression. His attendants were suddenly called, orders were given out, telephone calls booked, meetings arranged. ‘The human being Hitler had been transformed back into the “Leader”.’ The mask was in place again.
Hitler spent the night here at the Hotel Phönix on October 6, 1927. The lower section has remained intact.
This former Hafenbunker on Landungsbrücken 7 now houses a Portuguese restaurant

 The Flakbunker in Hamburg, Wilhelmsburg now being converted to an Energiebunker
A gravestone at Ohlsdorf cemetery in Hamburg from the Nazi era.
The entrance to the Graf Goltz Kaserne with and without the Nazi eagle and swastika
The Allgemeines Krankenhaus in Hamburg Nord Barmbek. 

A giant Swastika-shaped foundation sits on construction site in Hamburg, northern Germany, Tuesday,  November 21, 2017 after it was discovered during construction works on a sport field the day before whilst digging in the ground with an excavator to build changing rooms for the sports club at the Hein-Kling stadium in the city's Billstedt district. The foundation was the base of a 13-by-13 foot statue during the Nazi era for a monument that was torn down decades ago and which remained undiscovered for more than 70 years. City officials say they want the swastika, which was buried just over a foot below the ground, gone as quickly as possible but as it is too heavy to be transported away, they are planning to destroy it with jackhammers.


One of Hamburg's most affluent neighbourhoods in the borough of Altona in the western part of Hamburg on the right bank of the Elbe river, until 1938 Blankenese  was an independent municipality in Holstein. Here it is today and during the Nazi era with the Bismarck in the foreground.

Neuengamme concentration camp, the largest concentration camp in north-west Germany, was established to the south-east of Hamburg in 1938. The camp existed until 1945. Over 100,000 prisoners from throughout Europe were imprisoned in the main camp and its 86 satellite camps. At least 42,900 people died in Neuengamme, its satellite camps and during the camp evacuations at the end of the war.
In early April 1945, American forces entered Hannover and freed the surviving prisoners. The American Signal Corps filmed one of the Hannover camps soon after liberation. American forces fed survivors of the camp and required German civilians to help bury the dead. 
 After the war, the British military authorities used the concentration camp buildings as an internment camp for three years. In 1948, the occupying forces handed the camp over to the city of Hamburg, which set up a prison on the site. At the end of the 1960s, the city established a second prison building on the grounds of the former concentration camp. A monument was set up in 1965 as a memorial, and in 1981, a document building was added. Other parts of the former camp were gradually incorporated into the memorial. When the penal facilities were finally moved, the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial was able to expand into the site of the former prisoners' barracks and open as a centre for exhibitions, international exchanges and historical studies in May 2005.