My thoughts about the Hamburg stay – by Giovanni Alecci

I waited for two years looking at photos posted by my teacher and doing research. Being here it is something different. When we arrive in Bullenhuser Damm what is striking is the huge building of red bricks and big white windows. I go inside and I don’t feel anything. We go in the gym and  all groups give their presentations. Then it is time for our visit downstairs in the school basement. Strange and new feelings fill me and I am anxious as I go downstairs. I go inside and there are the suitcases! One next to the other in a  sort of circle the tell the brief story of each child whose life  violently came to an end. As I walk into the other rooms I am anxious even more. My heart beats fast I cannot think and I fill the emptiness which cuts my heart. I am overwhelmed. Suddenly the death of my father and his loss come backs to me. Then a new and different strong emotion. It’s here  where the children were hung that I feel at peace and serene although I cannot understand why . Then what I can think is that many children come to this school and they smile, laugh, scream, play and study. I can see how happy they are and I am sure that their voices keep company to the twenty children who keep on living. Death, as absurd as it can be, denied them to live but has given them they joy of eternal childhood which cannot be taken away.

Bullenhuser Damm building

Bullenhuser Damm building

Walking through the gate at Neuengamme my feelings are strange. This place is so huge and I cannot see its end on either side. Silence is interrupted by the 65 students footsteps as we walk on the stones along all walking spaces. Sometimes it’s the turn of a crow. Noone says a word and deep silence fills our soul. There are no noises here and even the engine of a car along the street nearby seems distant. It is very strange to see the tall wind turbines moving slowly where people were deported as forced labor. The look like huge clocks moving second, minutes, and hours counting the seventy years passed since the end of the war.  We are in another dimension and on tiptoes shyly we enter in a page of history. Every place we see and visit tells its own story. The big building, the house of memory, is full of photos, documents, diaries, messages, personal belongings, clothes and of things which were part of the daily life of those who stayed here. From hay mattresses where they could rest for a little while at night to the instruments of torture. Everything is kept under glass and taken care so they will remain proof of what happened here. We walk around the camp and I am impressed by the wagon. It’s the first time I see one. It’s big and unfortunately I cannot go inside. There is a huge photo to block the entrance. The people deported are one behind the other, they are skinny and their face are emotionless. They look real however and it seems they can get off the wagon in a moment. The brick factory includes the extreme meaning of this camp. As you walk inside you feel the anguish and the sense of loss.  Air stops and dim light confuses orientation. I need air my throat is suffocating and silence is icy. I am paralyzed. The dead are all here they are in the silence of this place and if you pay attention you can hear their voices asking Peace to mankind.

Giovanni Alecci

Italien group with Ytzhak Reichenbaum

Italien group with Ytzhak Reichenbaum

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