For the first time in Israel: An authentic German train car that transported Jews to extermination camps was placed today at the Netanya Memorial site and will serve as a “living monument” and educational center in memory of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust
Netanya Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar said, “The memorial sites established in Netanya are a moral dictate, and they pay homage to the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust”.
Today, Thursday January 24, 2014, at the end of a complex and sensitive mission, an authentic German train car that was built in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century and was used by the Nazis to transport Jews to the extermination camps, was brought to Bet Yad-Le’banim.
The Nazis used the train cars to transport millions of Jews around Europe to their deaths at the extermination camps. The conditions were generally cramped with over 100 people in each car and lacking event the most minimal conditions such as ventilation, food or water. The journey usually lasted between 24 and 48 hours, and the passengers were quickly removed from the cars and taken to their deaths. Approximately 1.5 million of them died en route on the diabolical journey.
The car, known as "munchen12-246" was found in 2013 by entrepreneur and site preservation expert Roni Dotan and Tatiana Ruge, who specializes in commemorating the Holocaust. They brought it to Israel through their volunteer efforts, based on the belief that displaying this car would strengthen knowledge and help commemorate the memories of those who perished in the Holocaust.
Mayor Miriam Feirberg Ikar was also a driving force behind this effort, after hearing from Dotan that a cargo car had been found in Germany. The Mayor, who is strongly committed to commemorating the Holocaust, decided to work actively to bring the car to Netanya - as permanent testimony to the obliteration of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazis.
After the initial contact with Dotan, Netanya Municipality decided to adopt this important project and to invest the resources required to purchase, restore and bring the car to Israel. Additionally, Netanya Foundation solicited donations for the project. After tough negotiations between Netanya Municipality and the parties in Germany, the agreement was signed about six months ago.
"Netanya Municipality believes it is of the utmost importance to lead projects that document and commemorate the memories of the millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust," said Mayor Miriam Feirberg-Ikar and added, "We will never forget the millions of pure souls who through no fault of their own were brutally murdered at the hands of the Nazis. The memorial sites established in Netanya are a moral dictate, and they pay homage to the millions who lost their lives in the Holocaust. I would like to thank all of our partners in this unique project, which is an eternal memorial to those who lost their lives and serves as an important educational tool."
As the car was being brought to Netanya, Roni Dotan said, "While researching my family history, I visited a museum in Berlin, where they provided me with documents about family members I had no idea had perished in the Holocaust. Working with Tatiana Ruge, we found all of the material documenting how they met their untimely and heinous deaths. It was then that I decided that from this point on, my work would revolve around my spiritual satisfaction. Thanks to Mayor Feirberg-Ikar, non-profit organizations and good people such as the Friedman family who all rallied around this project, we were able to bring the car to Netanya. The words "thank you" seem insufficient to express my gratitude."
Therefore, after being transported from the Port of Ashdod accompanied by a delegation of dozens of motorcyclists from the Israeli Motorcycles Club, the Israel Police and Netanya Municipality, the car was placed at Netanya's central memorial site, next to Bet Yad-Le’banim, home to the National Memorial for Fallen Ordinance Corps Soldiers (the military corps adopted by Netanya), the Alexandroni Brigade Memorial that was erected at the site of the division's high command during the War of Independence, the memorial marking the victory of the Red Army over Nazi Germany (inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin) and the memorial to terror victims.
In this manner, the location of the car (at Yad-Le’banim) underscores the "commemoration path" and commemoration stations between Holocaust and rebirth.
As noted above, the car will serve as a "living" monument and educational center dedicated to the Holocaust that will also display documentation on Netanya residents who survived the horrors of the Holocaust. Additionally, to preserve and pass down the heritage, school children will visit the site; further education for teachers and workshops will be held there; permanent and temporary exhibitions will be displayed, and all delegations of students making the trip to Poland will visit. This center, which will work to instill values such as human dignity and liberty, teach visitors about the preservation of democracy, rooting out discrimination, fascism and the like, will offer extensive information about the car, the processes of transporting the "Jewish shipments" to the crematoria, the modern technologies used by the Germans to implement their "final solution," testimonies by the car, statements made by survivors and more will all be on display as well.
The inauguration of the car, around March this year, will be accompanied by a day-long workshop by the PISGAH Center.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Roni Dotan, who initiated the project, and the other people and organizations who worked to realize this endeavor, including:
Netanya Municipality and Netanya Foundation, Israel Railways, Israel Police, Tambour, Neomi and Joseph Friedman, Shmuel Mental, Shai Farkash, Tuff Golan, Israeli Motorcycles Club, Society for Preservation of Israeli Heritage Sites, Gunter Demnig and the IDF - Ordinance Corps Association, Dr. Alfred Gutwald – Berlin, Taavura Holdings.