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The Central Office of the Protestant Train Station Mission: Progress Report (1945/46)

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2. The practical care-work now focuses on clearly delineated groups.

a) The refugees. The transports of expellees from the East continue to arrive unceasingly. Millions of people! And with them, terrible images of suffering, misery, and hopeless anxiety about the future. These large transports are estimated to continue for another 3-4 months. Although some things are becoming more orderly, the misery, especially now in the winter, has become terribly great once again, and the question of where to house the returnees is one of the most catastrophic problems for Germany. Transports from Pomerania arrive more rarely. In Löcknitz near Stetting, it is above all individuals who are coming across in the second half of 1946. The chief expulsions are taking place in Silesia. Among these refugees, special consideration must be given to:

b) Those cast back and forth. What a tragedy last summer, for example, at the Stettin train station in Berlin, where the trains from Pomerania arrive, and where these plagued, plundered, exhausted people were told: “Travel to Mecklenburg, there you will find a new home,” and who then, sent back from Mecklenburg, reappeared in Berlin and didn’t know where to go. The Magdeburg Bunker (unfortunately no longer in existence) can also provide harrowing reports about this. [ . . . ]

c) Returning prisoners of war. There is no need to say much about the misery of these people, who stand so vividly before our eyes. Thanks to the Hilfswerk [Relief Organization] and thanks to much loyal help from the communities, the TSMs were often best able to offer energetic help to this group, especially in the West. A great cause for concern for all TSMs was

d) The hunger traffic. Only a small part of it can be referred to as “hording traffic.” Let us recall the sad images of overcrowded trains, all the commotion, ruthlessness, terrible scenes, and accidents that came with them.

[ . . . ]

f) The problem of the endangered youth. In all of Germany we see pretty much the same picture at all train stations. Here, the TSM is called upon to show its full commitment. In the West, the Protestant and Catholic TSM submitted a joint request to the Reich Railroad for the creation of special aid measures for endangered youths and children. They are also hoping, by means of posters, to prompt parents and adults to pay attention and help with a sense of responsibility.

[ . . . ]

4. Financing the work has become possible in a great many ways. Many expenses were covered by donations. Great problems remain, however – especially when it comes to adequate pay for full-time workers. This is becoming a growing problem especially in the East. In the West, the TSM has been authorized to carry out a collection at the train stations five times a year.

[ . . . ]

Mother Superior L. von Schierstaedt
Managing Director

Source: ADW, ZBB 792; reprinted in Udo Wengst, Geschichte der Sozialpolitik in Deutschland. Bd. 2/2: 1945-1949: Die Zeit der Besatzungszonen. Sozialpolitik zwischen Kriegsende und der Gründung zweier deutscher Staaten. Dokumente [The History of Social Policy in Germany, Vol. 2/2: 1945-1949. The Era of the Occupation Zones. Social Policy between the End of the War and the Founding of Two German States. Documents]. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2001, no. 110, pp. 242-47.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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