Everything ran exemplary until 1933
On an advertising poster from 1933, the "Israelische Gartenbauschule Ahlem bei Hannover-Limmer, Fernruf 40610, Straßenbahnlinien 1 und 14, Bäume und Pflanzen aller Art" offers trees and plants of all kinds. It was well-known and popular in Hanover. The Jewish banker Moritz Simon had founded it in 1893. He was an amateur gardener. Jewish youths were trained in horticulture. Attached was a primary school for girls and boys. The training school was so exemplary that it enjoyed an international reputation. 685 pupils attended here. Then the Nazis came.
Suddenly a centre for deportation
The school immediately helped young Jews to emigrate. By 1939, 248 of them had been sent to 18 countries, most of them to Palestine. It was high time, because as early as autumn 1941, the Nazis turned the horticultural school into a collection point from which to deport Jews.
Until 1944, more than 2,000 Jews from all over southern Lower Saxony were transported from here to the concentration camps in seven transports via the Fischerhof station in Linden. Ahlem was thus suddenly the starting point for transports to extermination, whereas a few years earlier it had been a haven of Jewish garden life. Instead of education and green growth, now annihilation. The director's house was used by the Hanover Gestapo as a field office to supervise forced labourers. In 1944, the horticultural school was even used as a police substitute prison, and the former arbour hut was misused for executions.
A house full of memories
Today, all of this is extensively documented and can be read there. The Ahlem memorial was reopened in 2014. Downstairs there is space for readings and talks with contemporary witnesses. On the first floor, persecution and exclusion during the Nazi era are traced.
On the first floor, German-Jewish life is retold. The banker Moritz Simon is portrayed. Seminar rooms under the roof complete the offer. The gardens are also reminders, the trees silent witnesses. A path leads to the "Wall of Names" with more than 3000 plaques. Here you can read the dates of the lives of people for whom Ahlem meant death.
A celebration with friendships
A Denk.Mal.Garten.Fest will look ahead in the summer. Bands from Germany, Israel, Turkey and Switzerland play music. A memorial with a garden festival - there is no better way to remember together and to tackle the future together. But above all, to prevent similar things from happening again.