During World War II, Hamburg was heavily damaged due to its Gau status as one of the de facto administrative sub-divisions of Nazi Germany. Specifically, the Nikolai Kirch and the surrounding neighborhoods were almost entirely destroyed. Following the end of the War and in recent years, Hamburg has rebuilt itself into a vibrant city; however, as you walk through the city, you notice that the presence of war still lingers.
To further contextualize events of the Holocaust, you will visit the Bullenhauser Damm School, where Nazi doctors conducted medical experiments on a group of children before executing them. The building now serves as a kindergarten. Then we will travel to the site of the former internment and concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, the death place of Anne Frank. The camp was completely removed post WWII by the British; today only the mass graves and a museum exists at was has become a memorial site.
You will also explore the Neuengamme work camp, the largest concentration camp in northwest Germany during World War II, established in 1938 and closed in 1945. Over 100,000 people were subjected to horrendous living conditions, strenuous labor and overall murderous conditions throughout the camp’s existence. Today, it is an on-site memorial to commemorate the prisoners, and there is a museum exhibition that explains the camp’s history.
By visiting these sites, you will be able to better understand how historical events inform present mindsets and how a country moves forward without forgetting the past.
- Analyze the development of the German camp system before and during WWII
- Examine the overall social and political context of WWII in Nazi Germany
- Explore the Jewish history and the Jewish experience in Hamburg during the Nazi regime
- Take a guided excursion to Neuengamme work camp, the largest concentration camp in northwest Germany
- Visit Bullenhauser Damm School, a former execution site which now houses a kindergarten
- Attend a walking tour of Hamburg to understand the city's Nazi and WWII history