NA BISTER

Lohheide – Bergen-Belsen (plaque, wall)

Historical background

See: Lohheide – Bergen-Belsen (camp)

The preparations for erecting the main memorial began in 1947 and involved the construction of an obelisk-chimney-stack and a wall standing in front of it with clear inscriptions extending beyond the surface of the wall in various languages. A universal inscription that would commemorate all the victims of the camp was in Latin. The inscription dedicated to the Gypsies was not added until 1981 or 1982, when Germany officially recognised the genocide of the Roma and Sinti as a mass, “systemic” as we say today – crime of National Socialists. A bronze plaque set in the pavement between the wall and the obelisk was added in 1999. It is worth noting that both forms of commemoration have inscriptions only in German.

Description of commemoration

Following the main route from the entrance to the camp, passing the Polish cross, we come to the main memorial in KL Bergen-Belsen, i.e. the characteristic obelisk, which symbolises the crematorium chimney stack. On its left there is a wall with inscriptions in various languages, including German, Hebrew, Polish, English and others. One of the inscriptions (in German) mentions the Sinti.

There are four bronze plaques in front of the wall. The third from the left is dedicated to several communities, quite often treated collectively and commemorated as “other groups” placed in concentration camps by the Germans. Especially before these communities decided to build some part of identity and solidarity on the basis of the Holocaust as a systemic and connecting factor.

Thus, the plaque lists in turn: political opponents of national socialism, Jews, Sinti and Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, victims of the destroyed law, soldiers … The inscription is in German only.

  • This is another place where you can see how the Jewish custom of leaving stones on the graves of loved ones and the custom of throwing coins in historical and memorial sites was adopted and evolved. On the memorial plaque, dedicated to the mentioned communities, you can find both stones and coins, as well as other small items, such as a guitar pick, a string bracelet or other “souvenir gadgets”. Undoubtedly, the habit of leaving something small that was your personal possession is more interesting than leaving a trace in the form of writing down or even scratching your initials, etc.

 

Inscriptions

  1. The text in German on the wall:

IN TIEFER TRAUER UND TIEFER EHRFURCHT / GEDENKEN WIR SINTI (ZIGEUNER) / DER OPFER UNSERES VOLKES // DURCH IHREN GEWALTSAMEN TOD / SIND SIE DEN LEBENDEN MACHNUNG / ZUM WIDERSTAND GEGEN DAS UNRECHT.

 

Translation:

In deep sadness and reverence, we commemorate the Sinti (Gypsies), victims of our nation. By their violent death they are a vivid example that we must resist evil.

 

  1. The text in German on the plaque:

WIR GEDENKEN DER MÄNNER, / FRAUEN UND KINDER AUS VIELEN LÄNDERN, / DIE IM KONZENTRATIONSLAGER BERGEN-BELSEN / GEFANGEN GEHALTEN UND UM IHR LEBEN / GEBRACHT WURDEN // POLITISCHE GEGNER / DES NATIONALSOZIALISMUS // JUDEN // SINTI UND ROMA // ZEUGEN JEHOVAS // HOMOSEXUELLE / OPFER DER ZERSTÖRUNG / DES RECHTS // WIR GEDENKEN / DER IM KRIEGSGEFANGENENLAGER / BERGEN-BELSEN UM IHR LEBEN GEBRACHTEN / SOLDATEN AUS DER SOWJETUNION / UND AUS ANDEREN STAATEN // 1999

 

Translation:

We commemorate men, women and children from many countries who arrived at, were detained and gave their lives in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. We commemorate prisoners of the Bergen-Belsen prisoner-of-war camp, soldiers from the Soviet Union and from other countries who gave their lives here. 1999.

Date of the unveiling

1982 – the wall, 1999 – the bronze plaque

 

Initiator

The Bergen-Belsen Memorial

 

Address

Bergen-Belsen Memorial (Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen), Anne-Frank-Platz, 29303 Lohheide, Germany

http://bergen-belsen.stiftung-ng.de

+49 5051 4759200

 

Location

52°45’27.3″N 9°54’15.2″E

52.757583, 9.904222

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Materials

 

Puvogel, Ulrike / Stankowski, Martin: miejsca pamięci ofiar National Socialism. Dokumentacja, druga, poprawiona. i erw. Auflg., vol. I, Bonn 1995, pages 380-387.

 

 

http://bergen-belsen.stiftung-ng.de

 

https://bergen-belsen.stiftung-ng.de/fileadmin/dateien/GBB/Besucherinformationen/Faltblatt_Sinti_und_Roma.pdf

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