Saturday, January 27, 2024

Holocaust Memorial Day and the Collins

January 27th is recognized as Holocaust Memorial Day, the day of the Soviet liberation of Auschwitz in 1945. With the increasing and ongoing spread of totalitarian movements, rhetoric, and imagery across the globe, it is important to remember the past and where it can lead if we are not vigilant and push back at all times.

Ernst and Else Collin from the catalog to the Grosse Berliner Kunstausstellung of 1929, an image of a painting by Walter Kampmann. Ernst is sitting in a chair with a book [paper], and holding a writing instrument, his head seemingly lost in thought resting in his palm. A woman, presumably his wife Else (nee Cronheim) almost has him in embrace, one hand on his right arm, with her left almost on his shoulder. More here.

Ernst and Else Collin were deported to Auschwitz on December 9th, 1942 and murdered there. But, their horrors started much earlier, officially with the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933, and their systematic exclusion from public places, education, their places of work, their ability to live their lives freely, and so much more.

III) Transportliste: 24. Osttransport mit 1061 gelisteten Namen in das KL Auschwitz, 09.12.1942.
Note the Israel or Sara in the name. These were added by the Nazis to all Jewish individuals.
Page from the Transportliste for the 24th deportation from Berlin to Auschwitz, 12.9.1942.
The address for the Collins is from the Judenhaus at Aschaffenburgerstr. 6 in Berlin where they
were picked up, most likely the now yellow building.

Image of the Transportliste from the Arolsen Archives.

From there they were taken to the freight station in Moabit where a memorial was dedicated to those deported to their deaths. Other information links their deportation train to "Gleis 17" of the Bahnhof Grunewald and to their deaths. That platform is now a memorial with the dates of the transport in steel as part of the platform. More here. The Deutsche Reichsbahn (German railways) was very complicit in these transports, and created this as a "central memorial" to those deported and the role of the railway. 

Detail from the memorial by Axel Mauruszat.

On April 1, 2014, almost 10 years ago, two Stolpersteine (Stumbling Blocks) were laid to memorialize Ernst Collin and his wife Else (nee Cronheim) in front of the entrance to their home at Cicerostr 61 in Berlin. Stolpersteine are "monuments" created by Gunter Demnig that commemorate victims of the Holocaust. They are small, cobblestone-sized memorials for an individual victim of Nazism – both those who died and survivors – who were consigned by the Nazis to prisons, euthanasia facilities, sterilization clinics, concentration camps, and extermination camps, as well as those who responded to persecution by emigrating or committing suicide". The "stones" record the name of the individual, their birthday, and their fate. In Berlin the Koordinierungsstelle Stolpersteine works together with Stolperstein Initiatives in the various city districts, in this case Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf.

Photo Gerhard Schumm, 4.1.2014

Google Maps recently updated its Streetview images for Berlin, and the Stolpersteine can finally be seen, sort of.

Detail from Google Streetview of Cicerostr 61 in Berlin.