A plaque commemorating the victims of Nazism deported from the Rhineland is located near the tunnel entrance leading to the railway station: Köln Messe/Deutz. High platforms were built to connect the railway station with the Hohenzollern Bridge. One of them, called Deutz-Tief, was a special place, because from here deportations to concentration camps took place in 1940-1944.
Today, Köln Messe/Deutz is a railway station from where various trains, including intercity express trains, depart; intended primarily for people who come here because of the Cologne Trade Fair. Exhibition and market halls, the so-called Koelnmesse (see http://www.koelnmesse.com/ ) have been located in this neighbourhood since 1924. Until 1945, however, some of the buildings at the Trade Fair in Cologne served as a camp. The exact determination of where some of the prisoners were located and on what basis they were detained, how they were punished, what work they were forced to do – is complicated even for German researchers. The location was in fact a network of prisons, places of isolation, camps, variously named and with various intended use. The Deutzer camp was “part of a prison and storage complex (…) whose confusing diversity and variety of functions hampers their terminological and objective demarcation” (Schwering, 1988).
A plaque embedded in the wall commemorates many deportations from the Köln-Deutz station. Some of them were special service trains headed to KL Buchenwald.
In May 1940, based on deportation lists, over 1,000 Gypsies from the Rhineland were imprisoned in the Deutz exhibition hall. There, they were “disinfected” and registered by stamping a seal with their transport number on the skin. Between 16 and 21 of May 1940, they were systematically transferred to the Deutz-Tief station, where freight trains were waiting for them. The stairs next to which the commemorative plaque was built are called the “Stairs of Tears”. It was the first systematic deportation and at the same time a kind of efficiency test before the deportation of 11,000 Jews.
Three paving slabs with an embedded brass inscription, in turn, are part of the “Memorial Trail” of Gunter Demnig, an artist known for his Stumbling Stones (Stolpersteine). In 1990, over a length of 10 km across the city, i.e. between the Gypsy Bickendorf ghetto and the Deutz-Tief station, he laid a “ribbon” (Stolperstelle), consisting of just such distinctive grey paving slabs, and on each section there is the same inscription “May 1940 – 1000 Roma and Sinti”. The occasion was the 50th anniversary of the deportation of Gypsies from Cologne.
Description of commemoration
A plaque made of red sandstone is placed on the wall separating the pavement and the bus stop at Auenweg from the platforms above. The plaque is located near the entrance to the tunnel that leads to the railway station: Köln Messe/Deutz.
The paving stones placed in the pavement close to the plaque on the wall are also part of the commemoration. Three tiles in the pavement parallel to the underground passage were replaced with tiles in different in colour (grey). The new tiles feature brass letters embedded in the concrete, to form the following inscription: “—— MAI 1940 – 1000 ROMA UND SINTI -“. Just below the plaque on the wall, there is also a metal plaque placed between the pavement tiles with the inscription “NIE WIEDER // NE 1993” (“Never again / 1993”)
Inscriptions only in German
The text in German on the wall plaque:
AN / DIESER STELLE / WAR DER AUFGANG ZUM / BANHOF DEUTZ-TIEF. VON HIER AUS / WURDEN 1940/41 MEHR ALS 1500 SINTI / UND ROMA UND SEIT 1941 ÜBER 11000 JUDEN / IN KONZENTATIONSLAGER DEPORTIERT. / ZUDEM WURDEN DIE HÄFTLINGE DES MESSELAGERS / DEUTZ HIER AN-UND ABTRANSPORTIERT. ÜBER DIESE TREPPE GINGEN VIELE MENSCHEN. // IN DEN TOD
Here was the entrance to the Deutz-Tief railway station. From this place in 1940/41 over 1,500 Roma and Sinti, and from 1941 over 11,000 Jews – were deported to concentration camps. (…) Many people have gone down these stairs – to death.
Date of the unveiling
March 9, 1990
Gunter Demnig and others
Cologne City Hall
- The plaque on the wall: Auenweg, railway station (over the stairs to the underground tunnel), 51063 Köln, Germany
- Guntera Demnig’s project – locations on the route from Bickendorf to Köln Messe/Deutz:
- Venloer Straße / Höhe Matthias-Brüggen Straße
- Venloer Straße / vor dem Bezirksrathaus
- Venloer Straße / vor St. Joseph
- Venloer Straße / Höhe Piusstraße
- Venloer Straße / Höhe Hans-Böckler-Platz
- Friesenplatz / Westseite
- Friesenplatz / Ostseite
- Zeughausstraße / vor dem Regierungspräsidium
- Zeughausstraße / am Stadtmuseum
- Appellhofplatz / vor dem EL-DE-Haus
- Dom-Westseite / vor den Stufen zur Domplatte
- Von dem Anfang der Hohenzollerbrücke Rathausplatz / vor dem Eingang zum historischen Rathaus
- Heumarkt / im Aufgang zur Deutzer Brücke (diese Platte ist nach Straßenbaumaßnahmen verschwunden!)
- Bobstraße / vor dem Haus 6-8
- Agrippastraße / Ecke kleiner Griechenmarkt
- Agrippastraße / Ecke Kämmergasse
- Waidmarkt / vor dem Polizeipräsidium
- Deutz / Rampe Deutzer Brücke
- Deutz / Rampe Hohenzollernbrücke
- Deutz / Auenweg, vor dem Bahnhof Deutztief
- Bahnhof / ehemalige Verladerampe
- Auenplatz / vor dem Messegelände
The list of locations above cited from: http://gedenkorte.sintiundroma.de/index.php?ortID=46
The plaque is located on the other side of the railway tracks from Ottoplatz.
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„Bahnhof Köln Messe/Deutz”. In: KuLaDig, KultbornLandschaft.Digital. URL: https://www.kuladig.de/Objektansicht/O-13288-20110714-2 (Abgerufen: 18. Januar 2018)
„Messelager Deutz”. In: KuLaDig, KultbornLandschaft.Digital. URL: https://www.kuladig.de/Objektansicht/O-19831-20111107-4 (Abgerufen: 18. Januar 2018)
“The monument ofiar obozu Messager Deutz”. W: KuLaDig, KultbornLandschaft.Digital. URL: https://www.kuladig.de/objectview/O-127170-20150602-3 (acces: January 18, 2018)
Puvogel, Ulrike/Stankowski, Martin: Gedenkstätten für die Opfer des Nationalsozialismus. Eine Dokumentation, 2., überarb. und erw. Auflg., Band I, Bonn 1995, S. 570.
Schwering, Markus (1988), In den Klauen der Gestapo. Tagebuchaufzeichnungen der Jahre 1944-1945 (hrsg. und kommentiert von Markus Schwering). Köln.