ECB’s memorial to the murdered Jews

During the Second World War, the Nazis mis-used the excellent railway infrastructure at the Frankfurt wholesale produce market for the deportation of Jews from Frankfurt and vicinity to the extermination camps in eastern Europe. There is now a memorial to the murdered Jews at the eastern edge of the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters, on the site of the former wholesale market.

My lead photo (which I took in 2016 from the top floor of the nearby Globetrotter store) shows a white cement walkway which is part of the memorial. In this walkway, quotations from eye-witnesses to the deportation have been pressed into the cement.

Quotation from Lilo Günzler, 2009

“I wanted to walk along with them, but an SS-man at a barricade didn’t let any relatives through. But I could hear the loud, shrill orders that a uniformed man was yelling: ‘Everybody stand still. Face the train. In each freight car, 60 people get on board.’”

Ferdinand Levi, 1955

“On trucks, standing or sitting on our bundles, we were driven to an open railroad track near the East Harbor. We stood there for a long, long time, until finally a train came and we got in. No complaint could be heard, just here and there a quiet weeping, often with a prayer on the lips. Parents tenderly stroking their children, their loved ones, with superhuman strength.”

A secretary at the wholesale produce market, undated

“When I arrived at my office in the morning, there were closed freight cars standing on the tracks, further down, guarded by the Gestapo. All this was repeated several times. And I wasn’t the only one who knew what was happening, lots of people knew it.”

Alfons Paquet, 1941

Here a quotation is etched into the glass at the entrance to the basement of the market hall: “So in small groups, in processions and troops, people were brought to the wholesale produce market the whole day. The strange building, cordoned off, lay there in the drizzling rain. Past curious bystanders, the hopeless trek went along, people weighted down with their bundles, backpacks and suitcases. They had to line up at the edge of a square in front of a shed with a notice in big white letters PROTECT THE ANIMALS. The baggage was put down and apparently searched again, as in an open-air customs office, before they were taken inside the big building.”

Frieda and Ruth Sitzmann, 2006

“The Jewish people with yellow stars on their chests walked in rows of four or five, guarded, towards the wholesale produce market. The procession was about 50 meters long. There were families with children, who had their little suitcases or other small pieces of luggage with them. On all sides there were armed uniformed guards.”

Tily Cahn, 1942

“Since the people were not allowed to ride the tramway, they had to walk with their luggage to the wholesale product market. It was like running a gauntlet! And outdoors it was May and everything was in bloom: chestnut trees, lilacs, wisteria, apple trees — it hurt to see all this beauty.”

Lina Katz, 1961

“I walked along with the procession through the city to the wholesale produce market. Tried to use the tram, but I was thrown out because of my Jewish star. The procession went through the city in broad daylight. On the right and on the left, people stood in silence in deep rows and observed the procession.”

Bertold Adler, 2005

This quotation is in English: “In the morning an SS-Man — a German official from the party — came to our apartment and we packed our things. We were told what to take and what not to take. Then we had to go to the market hall, which is a long way off from where we lived. It was in the afternoon later.”

Bertha Oppenheimer, 1942

And now one more in German: “My dear children, I am very upset because I have already received the notice that I must leave Frankfurt the day after tomorrow. Unfortunately, my wish to see you again was not fulfilled. In any case, I want to say farewell to you and wish you everything good that a mother can wish her children. I am so nervous that I cannot write anything more.”

The memorial walkway

My photos in this post are from 2016 and 2020.
I revised the text in 2023.

See also: Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 8.
See also: Stumbling blocks.
See more posts on Jewish topics.

9 thoughts on “ECB’s memorial to the murdered Jews”

  1. May we never forget. But we do, don’t we! There is a rise in fascism in the USA and unfortunately American viruses have a tendency to infect us here in Australia.
    Thanks for the story.

  2. It’s admirable that the bank makes space for this moving memorial. First-hand accounts of history are so much more powerful than second-hand ones.

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