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Platform 17 Memorial Berlin: A Site of Holocaust Remembrance

Located in the western outskirts of Berlin, the Berlin-Grunewald station was used to deport Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in the east. Today, where all of this happened, there is the Platform 17 Memorial inaugurated in January 1998 to commemorate the deportation done by Deutsche Reichsbahn during the years of Nazi Germany.

Between October 1941 and the spring of 1942, trains left Berlin from the Grunewald Station in the direction of extermination camps and ghettos in the eastern part of Europe. It was October 18 when the first train from the Deutsche Reichsbahn left Grunewald Station with about a thousand Berlin Jews.

They were heading to Lodz, in Poland, and they probably never came back to Berlin again.

Platform 17 Memorial: Honoring the Deported Jews of Berlin

Most of these first Jews that were sent to die from the Grunewald Station were first assembled at the Levetzowstraße Synagogue in Moabit. From there, they were chased by SS Officers and the police through the streets of Berlin. Women, children, and men arrived at the train station by foot.

The first trains that left Grunewald Station were passenger cars, but Deutsche Reichsbahn soon changed this. By 1942, Jews were being sent away in cattle cars. And the people on the trains were charged for the transport. For each kilometer, adults were charged 4 pfennigs and 2 pfennigs for children above four.

From October 1941 to February 1945, the Grunewald Station was one of the significant deportation sites in Berlin.

In the beginning, they were being sent to main ghettos in cities like Warsaw and Litzmannstadt, the Jewish ghetto in Lodz. From 1942, the trains started going straight into Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. This happened until 1945, when the focus of the war changed.

Platform 17 Memorial: Berlin’s Haunting Reminder of the Holocaust

The Platform 17 Memorial was built by Deutsche Bahn to commemorate the Jewish people that were deported by Deutsche Reichsbahn during the Nazi era in Germany. This happened after the conclusion that, without the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the deportation of Jewish people wouldn’t be possible.

During the Cold War era, when Germany was split into two parts, the Reichsbahn in East Germany and the Bundesbahn in West Germany were unwilling to look at the role the Deutsche Reichsbahn played during the Second World War. This changed when both railways merged to form Deutsche Bahn.

To keep the memory of those who were deported alive, there were plans to build a memorial at the Grunewald Station. The monument was inaugurated in January 1998 and comprises 186 steel objects arranged chronologically beside the platform’s edge.

Each object mentions the date of transport, point of departure, destination, and the number of deportees. It’s interesting to see how the vegetation was left to grow between the rails and turn itself into a part of the Platform 17 Memorial. It helps create this feeling that no trains will ever depart from the platform.

The Platform 17 Memorial, called Mahnmal Gleis 17 in German, is open to the public and always accessible. You can find it at the Grunewald Station, where signs can point you in the right direction.

I visited the memorial in February 2018, looking for locations where the Netflix series Dark was filmed. If you see the Platform 17 Memorial, you should look at what we wrote about Dark and explore the area more.

Visiting Platform 17 Memorial: Understanding Berlin’s Holocaust Legacy

Am Bahnhof Grunewald 1
14193 Berlin

Felipe Tofani

Felipe Tofani

Felipe Tofani is a passionate designer with a penchant for crafting unique experiences and a mixed taste in music. As the curator behind this blog's explorations, he takes pride in discovering fascinating destinations. Whether unearthing hidden gems or sharing captivating historical narratives, Felipe is the creative force driving the stories you find here. Join him on a journey of design, discovery, and the delightful rhythm of unconventional tunes.View Author posts