Press article fom 21.12.2005
Second World War railroad cattle car to be flown to Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas
Hahn Airport, 21st December 2005 – Yesterday, on the 20th December, a rare relic of the past was processed at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport: An authentic 11-tonne railroad cattle car from WW II used to deport thousands of Jews, and which is a symbol of evil and oppression, was loaded into a Polet Cargo Airlines Antonov AN124 to be flown to the "Houston Holocaust Museum" located in Texas, U.S.A. Here, the artefact will be permanently exhibited for educational purposes on the occasion of the Museum's 10th anniversary on 5th March 2006. VG Cargo was responsible for handling the freight at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport. Together with the airport's apron staff, the cargo was loaded into the AN124 in double quick time to enable the machine to take off at 10.17 pm. The flight is expected to take two days, which includes a planned one-day stopover for refuelling and inspection at Keflavik Airport in Iceland. The railroad cattle car is expected to arrive at the only cargo airport "Fort Worth Alliance" in Texas on 22nd December.
"The shipping of such an item of cargo by air is actually quite unusual. Transportation of this kind is usually organised by road or sea," said Peter Bouwhuis, Vice President and Director EMEA of the company EP-Team, an international logistics management organisation with headquarters in Amsterdam. However, the numerous sponsors of this project decided on a fast turnaround, and tasked EP Team with the project management, which included an evaluation of airports in Europe and the United States, as well as preparing the railroad cattle car for air shipment. As the Russian Polet Airlines, which specialises in cargo flights, was among the sponsors and was also in possession of one of the world's largest cargo aircraft, the Antonov AN124, this company was authorised to carry out the air shipment. With its AN124, Polet Cargo Airlines has been using Frankfurt-Hahn Airport as a base for various cargo flights to all parts of the world for more than six years. VG Cargo, with headquarters at Frankfurt-Hahn Airport, and one of whose key customers includes Polet Cargo Airlines, was responsible for handling the cargo.
The railway wagon started its journey to Frankfurt-Hahn Airport by lorry from the small town of Blankenburg on 14th December. The 11-tonne vehicle's journey took approximately seven hours. On arrival at the airport, the staff of VG Cargo and the airport operating company set hard to work with a crane to carefully and slowly unload the cargo onto the apron of Germany's 4th largest cargo airport.
On the evening of 20th December, at 10.17 pm, the Polet Cargo Airlines flight took off to Fort Worth Alliance Airport near Houston in Texas. A one-day stopover for refuelling and inspection is planned at Keflavik Airport in Iceland. On its planned arrival on 22nd December at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, the artefact will be transported to Houston by lorry. Public and ecumenical ceremonies are planned for the afternoon of 23rd December in the Houston Holocaust Museum. This permanent exhibit will be kept in safe storage until its unveiling on the occasion of the Holocaust Museum's 10th anniversary on 5th March 2006. Along with the former U.S. President Bill Clinton and renowned politicians, about 300 survivors of the Holocaust who live in the Houston region, and more than 2000 guests are expected.
The history of the railroad cattle car
The railway wagon was discovered in the small town of Blankenburg in the vicinity of Wernigerode where it had been used by a German railway society for storing various train spare parts. The wagon was authenticated for the museum by the world-famous historian Alfred Gottwaldt, the German Museum of Technology's senior curator for railways. Gottwaldt documented that the railroad cattle car was built in 1942 for the German Reichsbahn, based on the "Oppeln" model and "round roof" style. The car´s “builder´s plate”, which was only discovered in November of this year during the restoration work on the model, bore the inscription: "Gottfried Lindner Aktiengesellschaft, Ammendorf bei Halle" and showed a "works number” 6953 and year of production as 1942. Ammendorf was a railway production facility near the city of Halle in central Germany.
The Houston Holocaust Museum began its search for such an artefact shortly after the museum was opened in 1996, and more intensively in 2001. "With the exception of the swastika, the rail car is the most widely recognised symbol of the Holocaust. It was an artefact we had to have for our museum," said Susan Llanes-Myers, Director of the Houston Holocaust Museum. "Only by being confronted with this kind of evidence of the past, and only by reminding future generations, can we ensure that another Holocaust will never be allowed to happen again to any group of people, anywhere in the world."
The Houston Holocaust Museum promotes awareness and education of the population with regard to the risks of prejudice, hatred, and violence. Admittance to the museum is free for the general public.
More information on the Houston Holocaust Museum and the railroad cattle car exhibition can be found at www.hmh.org. More information on EP-Team can be obtained at www.ep-team.net and on Polet Airlines at www.poletairlines.com.
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