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“Forgotten Hero”: Jacobs University honors Harry Callan

Zwangsarbeiter bei der Montage der Stahlbetonträger © Landeszentrale für politische Bildung/Staatsarchiv Bremen
Zwangsarbeiter bei der Montage der Stahlbetonträger, © Landeszentrale für politische Bildung/Staatsarchiv Bremen

April 25, 2017

He is witness to a time from which witnesses have become rare. As a 17-year-old in 1941, Harry Callan, a cook’s apprentice from Northern Ireland, is taken prisoner by the Germans and spends most of his captivity in the concentration camp in Bremen-Farge. His capture, his resistance, and his liberation are described impressively in the book “Forgotten Hero of Bunker Valentin: The Harry Callan Story,” which he present to the library of Jacobs University on Thursday, April 27th, starting at 12:30 p.m. as part of a special ceremony.

On January 29, 1941, the German auxiliary cruiser “Kormoran” attacks a British freight and passenger ship in the South Atlantic; Callan is aboard. Via a circuitous route, he travels to Northern Germany, initially to the Westertimke Prisoner of War Camp, and then to Farge, where there is a branch camp of
the Hamburg-Neuengamme Concentration Camp. There he is used as forced labor on the Valentin UBoat Bunker, which was then under construction. “In Farge I learned what fear was. We didn’t know what the next day would bring, and we were treated like animals,” the 94-year-old recalls.

Only with a lot of luck and the help of a doctor does he survive this time. In March 1945, he is liberated by allied soldiers. It takes a year before he is able to work again. For a long time, he remains silent about his impressive experiences. Harry Callan has now compiled them in his book, which is being
included in the library of Jacobs University on the occasion of his visit. The ceremony will also be attended by the Dean, Professor Arvid Kappas.

On campus the one-time seaman will first be welcomed by the members of the German School Ship Choir, which will sing maritime songs in his honor. Harry Callan will then give a brief speech in the Interfaith House to professors, employees, and students of Jacobs University, who themselves will have just visited the Valentin Bunker – and he will also read an excerpt from his book.

Note for editors:
Media representatives are cordially invited to report on the ceremonies.
Contact and registration: Thomas Joppig | Brand Management, Marketing & Communications
t.joppig [at] | Tel.: +49 421 200-4504