Tuesday morning was a very beautiful sunny day in Messina when eight hundred students from different schools of the city centre met at Palacultura Antonello da Messina the two youngest Italian survivors of the holocaust. Andra and Tatiana were in Birkenau 11 with a lot of children. They were together with their cousin Sergio and the other nineteen children who answered Mengele’s question „step forward if you want to see your mother“. The highest authorities greeted Andra and Tatiana and among the speakers there was Professor Lazzaro who was invited to speak as the author of a book on the Bullenhuser Damm Children. Tatiana Bucci thanked her for what she does in keeping the memory alive of the twenty children.
We learnt what was life like in the camp and we listened with tears when they told about their arrest and the awful trip to Auschwitz. It is painful to remember but they do it for young people so they can learn history from those who lived it. It was sad to see them been taken away by a RAI journalist because no students got the chance to ask questions. We feel lucky knowing that Prof Lazzaro gives us the opportunity to meet relatives of the children. Giovanni, Alberto, Leo, Emilio, Andrea, Serena, Sara, Giulia, Trisha, Gabriele.
When you visit Hamburg you will stay at the A&O Hostel in the Spaldingstraße. It is easy to reach from the main Station and it is not far away from the Bullenhuser Damm Memorial. But there is another, a historical reason related to Bullenhuser Damm and therefor to the research of the students, why we have chosen this place .
Hammerbrook is one of the areas of Hamburg that were almost completely destroyed during the Allied air-raids in the summer of 1943. Forced labourers, POWs and concentration camp prisoners were deployed by the Hamburg City Council and many private enterprises to clear the rubble, recover dead bodies and defuse unexploded ordnance.
In November 1944, the SS set up a satellite camp for male prisoners at the severely damaged complex on Spaldingstraße to house the Neuengamme concentration camp prisoners who were forced to carry out this kind of work. With between 2,000 and 2,500 prisoners, the Spaldingstraße camp was the largest Neuengamme satellite camp in the city of Hamburg itself. The majority of the prisoners came from the Soviet Union, Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark.
Between 18 and 24 of the Soviet prisoners from the Spaldingstraße satellite camp were brought to Bullenhuser Damm on 1945 20th April. Several of these prisoners are said to have escaped, and at least three of them were shot by SS men when they were trying to get away. The other men were murdered at Bullenhuser Damm like the 20 children and their carers.
This afternoon seven of us got the opportunity to meet Andra and Tatiana Bucci.The arrived in Messina yesterday evening and it was very interesting to learn history not from a book but by two little girls who lived the horror of the concentration camp.The meeting was in another school with teachers, students and parents. Our parents were there with us and tomorrow we are going to listen to them again. Giovanni, Alberto, Emilio, Gabriele, Serena, Giulia and Sara.
My name is Niels Rolla, I am 24 years old and from now on, will work together with Wiebke Schirrow and Iris Groschek as a student assistant on this project. I will help and assist on organizing your stay in Hamburg and will also be one of your contact persons, once you are here. We will try and keep you updated through this blog. If you have questions, suggestions or interesting information regarding this project, don’t hesitate to use the blog as a platform to share it with everybody.
Besides working for the Bullenhuser Damm, I am enrolled as a student at the University of Lüneburg, close to Hamburg, in order to become an elementary teacher with my subjects being english and geography. In my free-time I like to both make and listen to a lot of music, as well as go to concerts.
If you have any questions concerning myself and/or my role in this project, please feel free to ask!
I am very much looking forward to meet you all in April!