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Memorial Denkort Bunker Valentin

The submarine bunker Valentin was built between October 1943 and April 1945 in the Bremen district Farge-Rekum. Planned as a bunkered shipyard of the German Kriegsmarine, from March 1945 place submarines of the type XXI in section construction method were to be built. 

In October 1943, the SS set up a satellite camp of the Neuengamme concentration camp in Farge, about four kilometres from the place of work. About 3000 men were brought to Bremen-Farge in several transports. This made Farge one of the largest subcamps of Neuengamme Concentration Camp. Most of the prisoners came from France, Poland and the Soviet Union. A total of up to 12,000 concentration camp prisoners, forced laborers, and prisoners of war from all over Europe were used to build the bunker. More than 1100 of them died during the construction work due to malnutrition, diseases and arbitrary killings by the SS. The names of 553 victims are known to this date. The bunker was destroyed by a bomb attack shortly before it was put into operation at the end of March 1945. The camp was evacuated by the SS on 10 April 1945.

Since mid-1944, the captain of the army, Ulrich Wahl, had been the camp commander of the subcamp. With the assumption of this function, he was given the rank of Hauptsturmführer of the Reserve of the Waffen SS. The prisoners worked primarily for the companies involved in building the bunker, many of which are still well-known construction companies today. Siemens and Krupp, for example, also operated offices on the construction site.

From 1960, the bunker was partly used as a material depot by the Bundeswehr. Against the background of the East-West conflict, the German Navy turned the bunker back into an "arms secret" twenty years after the end of the Second World War and had it retouched from maps and aerial photos. The bunker thus disappeared from public memory until the 1980s.

On September 15, 1983, the memorial "Destruction through Work" by the Bremen artist Fritz Stein was unveiled by Mayor Hans Koschnick in the presence of some former French prisoners of the subcamp (Amicale Internationale de Neuengamme). It is located on the site that was used to divide the prisoners into the respective work detachments.
The bunker "Valentin" is the ruin of a submarine shipyard of the German navy from the Second World War and the longest building of Bremen.

At the entrance of the site there is the memorial "Destruction through work". From there a circular path leads along 25 stations through and around the bunker. At the individual stations there is information about the personal fates of the forced labourers, historical photos and short explanations about the history of the bunker. 

In addition to the circular route, there is an exhibition in the bunker. Based on individual objects, six theme islands tell different aspects of the history of the place. Large-format photos and short texts deal with the myth of submarines and the reality of the submarine war, report on life after survival and the relations between the forced labourers and the population in Farge. Above all, they show the names and, if possible, photos of former prisoners who were forced to work on the bunker construction site. In the future, the theme islands will be supplemented by media stations that will provide additional image, sound and text material.

With the help of aerial photographs, photos, maps and films, visitors to the media table in the information center can learn about the historical and geographical classification. The Bunker Valentin should not be perceived as an isolated historical site, but as part of an entire armoury landscape around the Bremen question. 
The site and the information centre are open daily from 10.00 to 16.00, except Mondays and Saturdays.
The memorial is closed on public holidays.

Admission: free of charge 
Multimedia guide rental: against deposit 

Guided tours are offered in cooperation with "Erinnern für die Zukunft e.V.". Participation in guided tours (90 minutes) is subject to a fee. Group tours for up to 25 people and foreign language tours by appointment. Payment on site.
The reappraisal of the history of the bunker is largely due to the honorary commitment of the Bremen population. Special mention should be made of the anti-fascist working group of the Bürgerhaus Vegesack, which documented the circumstances of the bunker construction since 1980 and held lectures on the history of the bunker, as well as the initiative "Blumen für Farge", which cultivated contact with former prisoners and supported the creation of the memorial. 

On 3 March 2009, the Bremen Senate decided to provide 150,000 euros for the creation of a memorial concept. The Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Bremen was commissioned to set up and operate the "Bunker Valentin Memorial". The state of Bremen received 1.9 million euros from the federal government to build a memorial site in the former Valentin submarine bunker between 2011 and 2015 and doubled this amount from state funds. The opening of the memorial took place on 08.11.2015.

The association "Geschichtslehrpfad" and the "Friedensschule Bremen" organize regular guided tours through the bunker and the camp grounds. The association "Erinnern für die Zukunft e.V." supports the think tank Bunker Valentin in the organisation and realisation of guided tours and educational offers.

 The association "Erinnern für die Zukunft e.V." looks for honorary aids for work ranges in the information center of the "Denkort Bunker Valentin". 

Christel Trouvé: Der Denkort Bunker Valentin in Bremen. Späte Auseinandersetzung mit NS-Zwangsarbeit, in: Webportal „Lernen aus der Geschichte“, hg. v.d. Agentur für Bildung –Geschichte, Politik und Medien e.V., November 2014 
 
Denkort Bunker Valentin, Stadtwandel Verlag 2015, Broschüre aus der Reihe Gedenkorte Nr. 12 (Autor: Bernd Hettlage) in Deutsch und Englisch 
 
Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Bremen (Hg.): Was passierte beim Bunker Valentin in der Nazi-Zeit und später? Broschüre in Leichter Sprache. 2017. 
 
Marc Buggeln: Bunker „Valentin“. Marinerüstung, Zwangsarbeit und Erinnerung. Bremen 2017,
 
Marc Buggeln: Das System der KZ-Außenlager. Krieg, Sklavenarbeit und Massengewalt, Bonn 2012. 
 
Marcus Meyer: Der Bunker wird Denkort. Zur Konzeption des Denkort Bunker Valentin in Bremen. Aufsatz erschhttp://www.friedensschule-bremen.de/ienen in Becker/Bock/Illig (Hg.): Orte und Akteure im System der NS-Zwangslager. Berlin 2015, S. 25-42.
Michelle Callan: Forgotten Hero of Bunker Valentin. The Harry Callan Story, Cork 2017.
 
Rainer W. Habel: „Blumen für Farge“. Erinnerungswege zum Bremer U-Bootbunker. Aufsatz erschienen in: Silke Wenk (Hg): Erinnerungsorteaus Beton. Bunker in den Städten und Landschaften, Berlin 2001, S. 167-179.
 
Raymond Portefaix/ André Migdal/ Klaas Touber: Hortensien in Farge. Überleben im Bunker „Valentin“ (Hg. von Bärbel Gemmeke-Stenzel und Barbara Johr), Bremen 1995.

https://www.denkort-bunker-valentin.de

http://www.erinnernfuerdiezukunft.de/
https://www.kz-gedenkstaette-neuengamme.de/geschichte/kz-aussenlager/aussenlagerliste/bremen-farge/
https://www.geschichtslehrpfad.de/
http://www.friedensschule-bremen.de/

Author: Miriam Frerks
Sites of memory