Holocaust memorial train arrives in Berlin
Thousands of people pack a Berlin railway station platform to welcome a steam-drawn Holocaust memorial train which is highlighting the importance of German railways to Nazi genocide.
14th April 2008
Berlin - Herbert Schenkmann, a survivor of the death camps, described to the crowd how he had been transported in cattle trucks by the Nazis to sites including Theresienstadt and Auschwitz.
"I had the doubtful pleasure of being a railways passenger four times," he said.
An ugly squabble over funding and sponsorship for two rival Holocaust exhibitions preceded the arrival of the locomotive and two veteran carriages carrying photographs of thousands Holocaust victims to represent their wartime trips to the death camps.
Germany's Deutsche Bahn (DB) rail company has mounted its own Holocaust exhibition and refused special treatment for the steam train operated by an independent association. The train must park in the city's communist-era main station, not the new main station.
Outside DB offices Saturday evening, 600 demonstrators accused DB of not doing enough to publicize the appalling Nazi use of trains.
Police said they detained a 17-year-old youth who shouted anti-Semitic abuse at the demonstrators.
The train parked Sunday on Track 1 of the Ostbahnhof, the former main station, and was opened to the public until Monday evening. It is to park in four other Berlin stations over the next few days, but not at the busy new, 12-platform main station of Berlin.
Hans-Ruediger Minow, head of the memorial train project, said he hoped the conflict over the venue would not distract attention from the train's actual purpose, to confront Germans with the Holocaust.
He said the train had visited 50 stations in Europe so far and had been visited by 160,000 people. Its journey is to finish May 8 at Auschwitz in modern-day Poland.