Goerlitz (Germany) : A Holocaust memorial train drawn by a steam locomotive crossed the German border into Poland Wednesday, bound for the memorial at the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz.
The engine and its two carriages carried 80 young people chosen from around Germany by activists who privately organised the train’s tour of German cities and invited the public to view photos and records of Jewish children sent by train to the death camps.
An ugly dispute with German rail company Deutsche Bahn (DB) brought international attention to the commemoration.
DB refused the smoke-puffing train a berth in its busy, spotlessly clean main Berlin station, saying a two-day stop there would hamper traffic.
DB has organized a Holocaust memorial exhibition of its own in the capital Berlin, also with photos of murdered children, showing how the railways were part of the machinery of genocide.
DB refused corporate sponsorship to the rival commemoration project.
The memorial train was scheduled to arrive at the death camp site near the Polish city of Ozwiecim on Thursday, the anniversary of Victory in Europe day May 8, 1945 when Nazi Germany was defeated.
Mementoes of children caught up in the Nazi persecution of Jews from 1940 to 1945 were to symbolically laid on the soil of Auschwitz at a ceremony on Thursday.
Organizers said more than 225,000 people have visited the display inside the Train of Memory carriages since the travelling exhibition began its tour of Germany and nearby lands in November last year.