Associations of Former Prisoners in Germany
Immediately after their liberation, the first concentration camp survivors formed organisations. In Hamburg, they founded the “Committee of Former Political Prisoners”. The organisation cared for survivors and demanded compensation for imprisonment, prosecution of the perpetrators, and general denazification. The Committee also documented Nazi crimes and organised memorial events. Eventually, the Committee became the Hamburg section of the countrywide “Association of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime” (VVN). In the early 1950s, because of anti-Communist sentiment during the Cold War, some federal states banned the VVN (Hamburg did so in 1951). In the GDR, the VVN was disbanded and replaced by the “Committee of Antifascist Resistance Fighters”. In 1948, survivors of the Neuengamme camp founded the “Neuengamme Working Group”, which initially operated in both German states. From 1965 onwards, the GDR had its own association of former Neuengamme prisoners. In 1958, the West German section of the Working Group became one of the co-founding bodies of the “Amicale Internationale de Neuengamme” (AIN).
The Amicale Internationale
The history of the different Neuengamme survivors’ organisations has been markedly influenced by the post-war history of the respective countries as well as by the Cold War. In France and Belgium, former Neuengamme prisoners organised as early as 1945, whereas in Eastern Europe survivors often had no choice but to join the official war veterans’ associations. But many former Neuengamme prisoners maintained contact across national borders. In 1958, the Belgian, French and German associations of former prisoners formed the “Amicale Internationale de Neuengamme” (AIN). Associations from other countries soon joined. It is largely due to the efforts of this international survivors’ organisation that the history of the Neuengamme concentration camp has not been forgotten.
The complete permanent exhibition "Time Traces" and the other side exhibitions on the grounds of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp Memorial are also available digitally in the memorial's media library. Unfortunately, the media library is only available in German.media library
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