Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg Behörde für Wissenschaft und Forschung. Zweite Bürgermeisterin

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1 Seite 1 von 10 Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg Behörde für Wissenschaft und Forschung Zweite Bürgermeisterin Senatsfrühstück für verfolgte ehemalige Bürgerinnen und Bürger Hamburgs 19. Juni 2014, 12:30 Uhr, Rathaus, Bürgermeistersaal Es gilt das gesprochene Wort. Dear former citizens of Hamburg, Dear Family Members, Vice-President Schira, Representatives of the religious communities, Ladies and Gentlemen, In the name of the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, I would like to extend the warmest of welcomes to you! I am extremely pleased that you have decided to come from Israel, Spain, the Czech

2 Seite 2 von 10 Republic, Uruguay and the USA. You have all come a long way in making this trip and certainly not only in a geographical sense. I can well imagine that this visit to Germany is not exactly a simple matter for you. I myself am a member of the post-war generation. We can only attempt to imagine the magnitude of the internal processes, the reservations and fears, all of the conflicting emotions the former victims of the Hitler-Regime and their family members, children and grandchildren must have before undertaking a trip to the land of the perpetrators. From the many meetings I have had with persecuted former citizens of Hamburg, I am well aware of how strenuous and how strained a trip like this can be. This is why I feel that the courage you demonstrate in returning to the places where you and your ancestors lived and from which many of you were deported earns the greatest respect.

3 Seite 3 von 10 A woman who participated in an earlier visiting programme for persecuted former citizens of Hamburg sent us a moving letter last year after she had returned home. She wrote: Although my decision to visit Hamburg was a difficult one given the family history, I am pleased that we came. It has helped me hugely in piecing together and understanding a few more pieces of the puzzle of my mother's life before she came to England. I hope that you will have experiences like this as well. And I hope that during the days you spend here, you will get to know Hamburg as a modern city that is proud of its internationality, its open-minded-ness, and the way people from 180 nations, who belong to more than 100 religious groups, live together peacefully. One in five people living in Germany has a migration background. In Hamburg, this figure is one in four more than in any other German state.

4 Seite 4 von 10 For this reason, too, Hamburg as we know it today our country s second largest city, with a population of nearly 1.8 million in many ways has very little to do with the old Hamburg, at most in its architecture and urban structure. But there are plenty of other very different things for you to discover. For example, let me mention the so-called Stolpersteine the stumbling stones that have been donated by our citizens. By now, there are more than 4,500 of these small brass plaques that have been set in the ground in front of the former homes of people who were deported by the Nazis, such as here in front of the Rathaus. These memorial plaques, present all over the city, may at first seem inconspicuous, but they stand for an unspectacular way of dealing with a terrible past, one that has thus become an integral part of day-to-day life here. The Senate supports the voluntary Stolperstein

5 Seite 5 von 10 project and is pleased about the widespread dedication people have shown to it. Another very recent event was the ceremonial reopening of the renovated synagogue in the district of Eimsbüttel last August, which was provided with financial support by a non-profit foundation and the City of Hamburg. A Jewish community has already been present again in our city since September Max Brauer, the first First Mayor of Hamburg to be freely elected after the Second World War, laid the cornerstone for this synagogue on 9 November 1958, exactly twenty years after the Pogromnacht of Today Hamburg s Jewish community has approximately 3500 members and is one of the largest in Germany, one that is enjoying slow, but constant growth. Jewish life centring around the Talmud-Tora-Schule in the

6 Seite 6 von 10 Grindel district near the University has been developing very naturally. This would have meant a great deal to Ignatz Bubis, the unforgotten former Chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. He gave his book, described as an autobiographical conversation, the title: I am a German citizen of the Jewish faith. At first, this phrase may seem insignificant. But it consciously takes a stand against a differentiation which is made again and again between Germans and Jews. Ignatz Bubis regarded this as a fundamental problem, and I agree with him fully. Today Hamburg is there for all of its citizens, and it ensures that every person is free to develop in the spirit of freedom and mutual respect, as it should be. We are as proud of the Jewish Community Centre as we are of

7 Seite 7 von 10 the Jewish school, the Jewish daycare centre, and the kosher restaurants in our city. In putting together the programme for your visit, we were particularly careful to include components connected with the past in addition to the tourist sites. It will include meetings with representatives of the Jewish communities and the German-Israeli Society, as well as the Society for Christian-Jewish Cooperation, a visit to the former Israelitische Töchterschule and the former Talmud-Tora-Schule, a tour of the city that will include sites of former and present-day Jewish life, and tours of the Port and the Alster, so that you can get to know Hamburg from the touristic side as well. I am sure that one of the special highlights will be the exclusive concert in the Fanny-Hensel-Saal at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater and undoubtedly the presentation of your memoirs, dear Mr. Wolff. I am so happy that you and your family are taking part in this

8 Seite 8 von 10 visitors programme. During one of the tours, there will also be an opportunity to visit the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial and especially if they are here your family graves. Ladies and Gentlemen, 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War as well as the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War. Both of these important dates will be commemorated in Hamburg, as well as all over the country, by a large number of events, with documentations, actions at the schools, and much more. Decorated, then deported was the name of one radio programme which was broadcast a while back on the nationwide Deutschlandradio Kultur programme. It dealt with Jewish soldiers in the First World War and made a very strong impression.

9 Seite 9 von 10 Here at the Rathaus, among other things, in a few weeks there will be an exhibition centring around forced labour. It will be the conclusion of a visitors programme for former forced labourers that the Senate has been conducting over several years. The Senate invited 26 groups of former forced labourers to visit our city including some 400 women and men from Poland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. And still another anniversary will be celebrated in 2014 that is important for our country: It was 65 years ago that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany came into effect. German President Joachim Gauck spoke about this at a ceremony on May 22nd: The Constitution created the foundations for a peaceful, pluralistic and democratic society. First for West Germany, later for all of Germany. Our country thus became part of the free

10 Seite 10 von 10 world. It lives in peace with all of its neighbours. It is open and diverse, strong and prosperous. Our social market economy and our welfare state promise good opportunities in the lives of all people. All of this makes our country a place to which many people all over the world long to relocate. Ladies and Gentlemen, I don t expect that as a result of your visit you will want to relocate to Hamburg in particular, or to Germany in general. But I sincerely hope that you will find our country open and hospitable while fully conscious of its past and its historical responsibility. I hope you enjoy your stay in Hamburg and that you will later be able to say: I m glad I made the trip and I ll come again. Many thanks.

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