The Nazis believed that their Jews were not German – just as the US president clearly believes that there are four US congresswomen, all citizens of his country, who are not American
in Cologne, Germany
Thursday 18 July 2019
The words would melt a heart of stone – save for those of the Gestapo torturers upstairs. The prisoners wrote their stories, their poems, their last pre-execution laments on the walls of their cells – which you can still read in the basement of the old Nazi secret police headquarters in Cologne. I spent hours there this week, reading the names and messages.
Cut into one cell wall are written these lines, in Russian, by a young woman condemned to death, apparently a slave labourer in Cologne who had joined a resistance movement in 1944:
“Here was held in custody Vallja Baran, who was betrayed by her own Russian compatriots. My husband and I were both put away in one cell … we will be facing the gallows, my only regret is to be separated [now] from the beloved husband and the whole wide world. Oh, girls, why is our youth such a botch-up? I am now 18 years old, pregnant and would love to see my first-born child. Well, this will not be possible, I have to die.”
The cells still bear their original numbers. They are complete with the massive, heavy grey-painted doors through which the Gestapo could peer at their victims, sometimes 30 to a room intended for only two or three prisoners, so many that even the local Gestapo complained to Berlin about the overcrowding.
Walking from cell to cell, I noticed a visitors’ book lying on a table between them. And in it, this week, an American couple had written these words. “Never again means never again. From Palestine to the USA-Mexico border.”