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Friedland – Perspectives of Migration

The Transit Camp from 1945 – today

Friedland transit camp has processed over four million people arriving in the Federal Republic of Germany since 1945. They have come as refugees and expellees, as released prisoners of war (POWs) and displaced persons (DPs), as ethnic German immigrants and people seeking refuge from many parts of the world. Some of them never forget the Friedland transit camp. For others, it is nothing more than a transitory stop – as soon as they leave the camp it is forgotten.

 

Friedland transit camp has repeatedly been the focus of public attention. The camp testifies to the consequences of the Second World War just as much as it does to present wars and crises around the globe. It mirrors the approaches and attitudes in the political and social spheres to the intake of people into Germany. It not only shows the dynamics of migration, but also the attempts to regulate and control it.

 

With its exhibits and displays, Friedland – Perspectives of Migration presents a fascinating insight into the history of the transit camp from 1945 to today. In the historic Friedland Station building, modern media and moving stories show how the tasks, function and significance of the transit camp have changed over the years. The exhibition traces the journeys of the people who have arrived here in the course of more than seventy years. And it raises questions which we are facing now: What drives people to leave their homes? How do they travel to Germany? How are they being received? And who is allowed to stay?

Friedland is a place where the perspectives of the German, European and global past and present converge. We invite you to find out more, and take part in the experience and discussions arising from this!

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

Did you know ...

Friedland would now be larger than Berlin, Germany’s capital city, if everyone registered in the camp had stayed here?

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

Did you know ...

Friedland is currently the only reception camp in Germany for ethnic German immigrants?

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

Did you know ...

Friedland was already providing accommodation for asylum seekers as early as the 1970s?

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

Did you know ...

In 1979, the one millionth ethnic German immigrant in Friedland was given a colour TV which he never used?

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

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Eindrücke der Ausstellung Foto: Swen Pförtner

Friedland Transit Camp – Past and Present

The Friedland transit camp is just a few minutes’ walk from the Museum Friedland. Today, the camp serves as the initial reception centre for asylum seekers and Jewish immigrants in Lower Saxony, and as the national initial reception centre for ethnic German immigrants.

The site of the Friedland transit camp is home to a number of heritage buildings dating from the first days of the camp. In addition, there are also memorials to the prisoners of war released from the Soviet Union and to the role of the Friedland camp in the 1960s and 1970s.

After visiting the museum, you can also join a tour of the site of the Friedland transit camp. The tours, all offering a personal view of the camp, are led by people who entered Germany through the reception centre, residents of the small town of Friedland, or volunteers and staff in the camp.

 

Bahnhof Friedland

Bahnhof Friedland

Did you know ...

the Nissen hut was originally invented by a Canadian-American engineer during the First World War?

Friedlandglocke

Friedlandglocke

Nissenhütte

Nissenhütte

Did you know ...

the Friedland transit camp has been immortalised in a film and a song?

St. Norbert

St. Norbert

Evangelische Lagerkapelle

Evangelische Lagerkapelle

Did you know ...

two of the bells in the Friedland camp’s St. Norbert Church come from the former East Prussia and Silesia, and the sound of them ringing has been preserved on vinyl?

Did you know ...

today, the Friedland camp primarily houses refugees from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Friedland Gedächtnisstätte

Friedland Gedächtnisstätte

Griff in die Freiheit

Griff in die Freiheit

Museum Friedland is collecting!

Museum Friedland collects and preserves objects and documents that bear witness to the history of the Friedland transit camp, past and present. The collection is continuously expanded, systematically catalogued and researched. At present, the museum’s holdings comprise several thousand artefacts related to the Friedland camp or the lives of those people in transit here – personal things and objects from work on site, photographs and documents, valuable or seemingly nondescript things. The collection also includes over 200 video interviews with contemporary witnesses down the years from 1945 until today. The objects in the museum’s holdings are displayed in exhibitions, documented in scholarly research, and loaned to other museums.

 

If you would like to donate any related objects, photographs or documents to the Museum Friedland collection, we would be pleased to hear from you by email at sammlung@museum-friedland.de.

Friedland Station sign
Friedland Station sign

MF1320

Friedland Station sign

For hundreds of thousands of people, Friedland Station was the point of departure to their first home in West Germany. Today, the former station building houses the Museum Friedland’s permanent exhibition. This sign is one of several, now in the collection, discovered during the process of converting the building. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Emma Eckel’s diary
Emma Eckel’s diary

MF1587

Emma Eckel’s diary

During the Second World War bombing raids, Emma Eckel is evacuated from Hamburg to Plauen. In 1946, when she travels back after the war, she passes through the Friedland transit camp. In this home-made diary, she notes down the details of her stops on the way and her impressions. The collection also contains personal reports by many other people on their experiences. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Christmas Magazine
Christmas Magazine

MF1022

Christmas Magazine

In 1945, for the first Christmas in the Friedland camp, an anonymous author prepares this eleven-page magazine to entertain the many employees at the camp. It contains a collection of humorous texts written in verse on the working conditions in Friedland and the mood of the staff. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Siegfried Jenkner’s Suitcase
Siegfried Jenkner’s Suitcase

MF1015

Siegfried Jenkner’s Suitcase

In 1950, Siegfried Jenkner is arrested as a member of a circle of critical students in Leipzig. In 1951, a Soviet tribunal sentences him to 25 years in a prison camp. In October 1955, in the course of the release of the last German POWS, the Soviet Union also hands him over to West Germany. His is given this suitcase in the Friedland camp. At a stand in front of the camp, he buys a sticker with a picture of Friedland as a memento of his release. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Hair trimmer
Hair trimmer

MF1308

Hair trimmer

After the Hungarian uprising in November 1956, school student János Mikulás left the country for the West together with his brother and three friends. He reached Friedland by train via Austria. In the camp, he is given a razor, a dictionary and this hair trimmer. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Statuette “Reaching for Freedom”
Statuette “Reaching for Freedom”

MF1272

Statuette “Reaching for Freedom”

This little statuette, around 16 cm high, is a miniature copy of Fritz Theilmann’s six-meter-high sculpture entitled Griff in die Freiheit (Reaching into Freedom). In 1955, the original is set up in Friedland by the Association of Returnees (VdH). Just like the “Friedland bell”, this too becomes a key symbol for the return of the POWs. The VdH sells large numbers of a miniature edition of the sculpture under the title Griff nach der Freiheit (Reaching for Freedom). Foto: Rainer Jordan

Donation can
Donation can

MF1401

Donation can

Since Friedland was founded, various charitable and welfare organisations have been working in the camp. They help to supply the arrivals with food and clothes, offer advice on legal matters, and look after the children and young people. Private donations are one source of finance for their work. The money is collected through major campaigns or directly on site – for instance, with this German Red Cross (DRK) donation can. Foto: Rainer Jordan

“Have you seen...” placard
“Have you seen...” placard

L008

“Have you seen...” placard

The Second World War separates millions of people from their relatives. The Friedland transit camp is the focus of the hopes of many of those searching for missing loved ones. There, they ask arrivals for news and put up “have you seen...” notes and placards. In 1955, Heinrich Popp’s son takes this “have you seen...” placard to Friedland hoping to hear of his father, missing since Stalingrad in 1943 – but there is no news. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Bolt cutter
Bolt cutter

L0018

Bolt cutter

The former border between West and East Germany runs only a few kilometres from Friedland. The construction of the inner German border, escapes across it and its opening in 1989 are also chapters in the history of the camp. In 1963, this bolt cutter was used during a mass escape from East Germany from the village of Böseckendorf. Initially, those escaping were accommodated in the Friedland camp – the bolt cutter is now on permanent loan in the museum collection. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Record with sound of bells
Record with sound of bells

MF1202

Record with sound of bells

The museum collection also includes various audiovisual items which bear witness to the history of the Friedland transit camp. This record, issued in 1964, contains the sounds of the bells ringing at the Church of St. Norbert, consecrated in 1955, as well as accompanying words by the Catholic priest in the camp. Since the Friedland camp was founded, representatives of other denominations have also actively assisted arrivals. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Toy Figure
Toy Figure

L0050

Toy Figure

In 1967, Rudolf Karliczek is five years old when he comes to West Germany from Poland with his mother. Like many other ethnic German immigrants, they also pass through the Friedland camp. When donations are handed out in the camp, Rudolf Karliczek is given this “Klein Biberherz” figure from the German comic series Fix und Foxi. Over the following years, the figure becomes his constant companion. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Package tags
Package tags

MF1228

Package tags

Not only do millions of people pass through the Friedland camp, but innumerable pieces of luggage are also brought over the nearby border and sent on from the village station. To ensure the crates, suitcases and packages all arrive safely at their owners’ new homes, they are given these kinds of labels. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Card index box
Card index box

MF1325

Card index box

A transit camp is always an administrative location as well. All arrivals are registered and their details systematically filed. From 1978 to the late 1980s, the Vietnamese refugees arriving in Lower Saxony all had to pass through the Friedland camp. This card index box is one of a total of nine containing their details. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Cruet set
Cruet set

MF1379 & MF1381

Cruet set

The museum also collects everyday things such as this cruet set to illustrate daily life in the camp. Catering for such large numbers in Friedland poses a daily challenge to the kitchen staff and, at times, to those provided with meals. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Ring buoy
Ring buoy

MF1406

Ring buoy

Since 2008, numerous initiatives and volunteers have been supporting the national Save Me campaign for German participation in the UNHCR resettlement programme. In 2012, the Federal Republic of Germany begins to take in resettlement refugees – the first are accommodated in the Friedland camp. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Transport crate belonging to the Surma family
Transport crate belonging to the Surma family

MF1249

Transport crate belonging to the Surma family

In 1983, the Surma family leave Poland for West Germany. They send some of their household goods to Friedland in advance in custom-built wooden crates. After arriving in West Germany, they paint over the address “Göttingen Friedland” to avoid being identified as ethnic German immigrants when they move to their new home. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Underpants with zip pocket
Underpants with zip pocket

L0049

Underpants with zip pocket

In 2013, a man from Syria has a tailor from Damascus sew a zip pocket into this pair of underpants. During his flight to Germany from Syria through Egypt and across the Mediterranean Sea, he always had this pair of underpants with him. He could keep some cash in the zipped pocket. Foto: Rainer Jordan

Museum Friedland is not yet finished…

Now with the permanent exhibition set up in the historic station building, two further development phases are planned over the coming years.

By the end of 2018, the site between the historic station and the transit camp will be transformed into a modern visitor, media and documentary centre set in a landscaped park. The centre will provide exhibition space of around 800 square metres as well as seminar and storage rooms.

The third component in this development is the Akademie Friedland. Scheduled for completion by 2020, its is designed to supplement the permanent exhibition in the historic station building and the topics dealt with in greater depth in the modern visitor centre. As a research and international youth centre, Akademie Friedland expresses, in particular, this new institution's dual focus on both the past and present. Here at Friedland, as a historically important location, this project seeks to establish an innovative forum offering a range of formats for current historical, social and cultural studies, research and debates.