A Class Trip to See WWII Memorials in Essen

The Class 9b and Karmen Heup (our bilingual teacher) went to the city centre on Monday, 8th May, and visited a few WWII memorials. We did so, because Ms Heup wanted to show us how Essen was involved in the Second World War. The first things we saw were two brasss stones cemeted into the ground. Those stones are reminders of Jewish victims during the holocaust. They are called stumbling stones and you can find them all over Europe.

The next memorial sadly was very hard to find; it was hidden in a bush. The memorial was just a sign which reminds us of the book burning at Gerlingplatz, where the head of the Essen library burned many forbidden books to honour Hitler. We also saw a pub called “Panoptikum”, formerly known as the homosexually-friendly “Eldorado”. Homosexuals were strongly supressed during Hitler’s time. It was illegal to be gay or lesbian, but now it’s obviously allowed.

We walked about half a mile to the next memorial at the EVAG depot and this one was sad as well. The memorial is a big grave were 99 Russian prisoners of war are burried. They died there, because they weren’t allowed to enter a bunker. So they tried to hide from air raids in a tunnel they had dug in a hill, but the hill was hit by a bomb and the whole tunnel collapsed. Every single Russian hiding in this hole in the ground was burried alive and died.

We then visited the Old Synagoge next to the city centre. The Nazis tried to destroy the synagoge during the so-called “Kristallnacht” in 1938, but they weren’t successful, because the building was too strong.The synagoge is still there, but today it’s a museum and it’s not used as a synagoge anymore.

Did you know there was a small concentration camp in Essen? Probably not, but there was a concentration camp right in the city centre! It was a Buchenwald subcamp for forced labourers. I don’t really like the ‘City Wound’ memorial there now, because the memorial is in the old shopping centre entry, with graffiti on the walls. Just seven tree trunks and a plaque were put there. The memorial is in a bad spot, because it’s next to a car park and nobody really looks at the memorial. In the memorial is a green light, which made at least me very uncomfortable, because it looks creepy and does not really remind you of the old subcamp.

All in all, I really liked our trip to the city, because I would have never guessed that we have so many memorials. I have walked over so many stumbling stones in so many different cities without knowing what they are, but now those stones constantly remind me of the bad chapter in the history of our country, Germany. I hope you liked my report about our trip to the city centre and maybe you have learned something as well.

Kiran, Differenzierungskurs Englisch, Klasse 9b

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