Edith Erbrich is a Holocaust survivor. In 1945, alongside others in her family, Edith was deported from the Grossmarkthalle to Theresienstadt – a Holocaust ghetto and concentration camp. She is one of only a few survivors who have returned to Frankfurt. She regularly visits the memorial today.
The years from 1941 to 1945 constitute a very dark chapter in the history of the Grossmarkthalle, as the basement of its eastern wing building was used as an assembly point for the deportation of Jewish people. Here, more than 10,000 members of Frankfurt’s Jewish population boarded trains that transported them to concentration camps.
In 2001 the ECB and the Jewish Community Frankfurt had already decided to launch an international competition to design a memorial. The competition was then organised by the City of Frankfurt am Main between 2009 and 2011, in close cooperation with the Jewish Community Frankfurt and the ECB. The winning design, developed by architects KatzKaiser, successfully homes in on available fragments of history, creating a story that symbolises the complexity of the deportations without diverting attention from the actual site. This holds true both for the bureaucratic process behind the crime and the crime itself, i.e. the deportation.
Pathway, signal box and railway tracks on public land
The part of the memorial accessible to the public lies in the strip of land to the east of the Grossmarkthalle, where a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists has been created between the Ostend district and the river Main. This new public pathway, together with the old railway tracks and a signal box that stands beside it, serves as a reminder of the deportation of Jewish women, men and children. A stepped footbridge has also been preserved. Here, people bade farewell to their loved ones or simply looked on with idle curiosity.
Ramp and basement rooms on the site of the ECB
A concrete ramp runs from the eastern border of the site down to the basement rooms in the Grossmarkthalle, demarcating the old basement entrance and forming a break in the landscape. The ramp is flanked by two concrete walls. A pane of glass at the site border enables people to look down to the basement entrance and peer into the “depths of history”. The basement room in which people were held before being deported has largely been left in its original condition to form an authentic part of the memorial. To give visitors and passers-by an insight into the deportations from a range of perspectives, the various components of the memorial are engraved with testimonies from victims and observers. The aim is that people will chance upon this information on a walk through the green belt, without making a special trip to see the memorial.