Nicole Mettbach

Nicole Mettbach at the ‘denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof’ memorial site, 2023
Nicole Mettbach at the ‘Hannoverscher Bahnhof Memorial’, 2023 (Photo: Miguel Ferraz Araújo)
‘I think it’s very important that Hannoverscher Bahnhof is not just a memorial, but that all the victims have now been named. Not every person has a grave. Many of my family members are untraceable and have been declared dead; at least here at the memorial site there is a reminder that these people existed.’

Nicole Mettbach is the granddaughter of Moni and Martha Mettbach. As children they were arrested by the criminal police and, on 20 May 1940, deported to Belzec forced labour camp from Hannoverscher Bahnhof railway station together with 1,000 Sinti and Roma, including many family members. There they were assigned to hard forced labour. Nicole Mettbach’s grandparents survived several concentration camps and returned to Hamburg after the war.

Her grandparents’ traumatic experiences were ever present, even in her childhood. Yet they hardly ever talked about it. It was only after her grandparents died that Nicole Mettbach began to research her family’s history in the Hamburg State Archives and others. She found out that over 59 of her relatives had been deported and many of them murdered. For Nicole Mettbach it is particularly important to tell the story behind the names.

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Portrait photos from Moni and Martha Mettbach, c 1953
Moni and Martha Mettbach, c 1953