Memorial stone for the remembrance of deported Polish Jews
In 1987, a memorial stone was erected on the initiative of the Altona district assembly to commemorate over 800 Polish Jews who were deported from Altona. They were taken from their homes on 28 October 1938 and brought to the Altona railway station, where they were deported by train to Poland. Following Austria’s annexation (‘Anschluss’) into the German Reich in March 1938, the Polish parliament had voted to revoke the citizenship of all Polish citizens who had lived abroad for more than five years. When this took effect on 30 October 1938, the 50,000 Polish people living in Germany at the time became stateless.
The Reich Foreign Office took this opportunity to have the police deport all Polish Jews from the Reich. In the course of this ‘Polish operation’ (‘Polenaktion’) on 28 and 29 October 1938, around 17,000 Jewish men and women with Polish citizenship were expelled from the Reich overnight. Most of the Polish Jews from Altona were forced to endure unspeakable conditions for weeks in Zbąszyń on the Polish-German border. Very few of them managed to find asylum before Germany invaded Poland in September 1939. Most of the Jews deported to Poland were later murdered in the extermination camps.
Since 2002 the Evangelical Lutheran parish of Hamburg-West/Südholstein (western Hamburg/south Holstein) has commemorated the victims of the ‘Polish operation’ every year around 28/29 October at the memorial stone at Altona railway station (Paul-Nevermann-Platz).