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Commemorative Events in Vöhl

In June 1942 more than 500 Jewish residents of the Administrative District of Kassel were deported to Sobibor and Majdanek. The Friends’ Association of the Vöhl Synagogue, local authorities and instiatives and the International Tracing Service (ITS) remembered the victims in Vöhl last weekend.

508 Jewish residents of North Hesse were taken away from their homes and transported to Kassel on 30 and 31 May 1942. Official letters they had already received weeks earlier euphemistically paraphrased the forthcoming deportation as “resettlement and evacuation”. “Though fearing that they would not be able or allowed to return home, many people were still hopeful then”, explained Karl-Heinz Stadtler from the Friends’ Association of the Vöhl Synagogue. By normal trains they were deported to the regional collection point in Kassel – escorted and guarded by the local police. From Kassel’s main station, the deportation trains departed on 1 June 1942 taking them to the extermination camps in Sobibor and Majdanek.

“How could it come about that people either averted their eyes from, or took active part in, the Nazi doings of the time?”, Stadtler wondered in his address at the opening of the exhibition “Deportation to Sobibor and Majdanek”. “We ought to put this question to ourselves and come to realize that it is a footstep only that separates a ‘spectator’ from a ‘co-actor’.” Placards prepared by volunteers from Volkmarsen to Battenberg commemorate the individual families.

For instance, the Jakob family from Rhoden. Heinrich Friele has found out that the Jewish traders’ family had lived an ordinary and modest life in his hometown. “But as of 1933, civil contempt added to political repression thus aggravating the climate for Jews”, said Friele. “A contumelious and derisory satire on the Jakob family and their home by Karl Heinemann makes unmistakeably clear how Jewish citizens were treated at the time.”

A graphic in the form of a cobweb is to symbolize the deportations from the administrative district of Kassel. “It is used to point up the logistics of the Nazis’ measures”, explained Stadtler. In an infinite loop, the victims’ names are displayed on a monitor. Young people from Vöhl have produced a replica of the Sobibor camp. And the permanent loan called “They went upright” by artist Eva Renée Nele is to be seen. “Parts of the exhibition will be shown in the schools of the region”, announced Stadtler.

During the round, Marion Möller, history teacher at the “Alte Landesschule” (advanced secondary school) in Korbach, underlines the commitment of the people from the Waldeck-Frankenberg region who have come together to remember the victims of the Holocaust. “We will continue cooperation in this field”, ensured Stadtler. Another event in memory of the third deportation from Kassel is scheduled to take place in Volkmarsen on 9 September 2012.