Holocaust memorial group wins German government grant

17th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

The organization gets award to let it spotlight the rail's role in the Holocaust.

Berlin (dpa) - A foundation that aims to highlight the role of the German railway system in the Holocaust won a German government grant Wednesday after complaining that it was not permitted to use German rail tracks for free.

The group's Train of Memory, a vintage steam locomotive hauling two carriages containing pictures of child Holocaust victims, has been been touring Germany and is to reach the Auschwitz death camp in Poland on May 8.

The Train of Memory Foundation had threatened to shame the Deutsche Bahn rail company worldwide because it invoiced the foundation for rail track use.

A Bahn spokesman said the company had to treat all customers equally and not allow some a free ride.

The Transport Ministry in Berlin announced a grant of 15,000 euros (22,000 dollars) and called for corporate sponsorship for the project. Bahn is a government-owned corporation.

The ministry had said earlier it would seek a solution that preserved parity of tolls on the railways system.

The exhibition in the carriages uses letters and biographies to show how Jewish children were caught up in the Nazi machinery of death and taken to the gas chambers in cattle wagons.

So far 40,000 people have seen the exhibition, which is set to visit a total of 40 German cities.

Bahn has had a prickly relationship with the foundation and is to launch its own travelling Holocaust exhibition, combining railways' museum material with exhibits from France about the cattle-truck transport of the victims.

Bahn is to open that travelling exhibition in Berlin on January 23, detailing how the railways were used in the Holocaust. That show has been largely organized by Franco-German writer Beate Klarsfeld.

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