The new architectural design was presented by Dr Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media, at a press conference on 31 March 2023.
A two-storey documentation centre is to be built at Ericusbrücke in Hamburg’s HafenCity. As a learning centre, the free-standing building will commemorate the fates of more than 8,000 Jews, Sinti and Roma from Hamburg and northern Germany deported from there between 1940 and 1945. A team at the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres headed up by Prof. Dr Oliver von Wrochem, Foundation Chairman, is working on the contents for the documentation centre.
Representatives of the associations of victims of Nazi persecution, outside experts, the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, the Ministry of Culture and Media, and other Hamburg authorities participated in the architectural competition organised by the project owner and principal, Harm Müller-Spreer. The jury opted in favour of the design submitted by the Zurich firm of architects Boltshauser Architekten AG. Construction can begin once the development plan procedures currently underway have been finalised, with completion scheduled for 2026.
The design for the documentation centre provides for a two-storey building with a direct line of sight to the ‘denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof’ memorial site. The memorial itself comprises the Fuge [Swath] and the historical railway track layout as well as the panels with the names identified thus far of those deported from the Hannoverscher Bahnhof railway station between 1940 and 1945. The memorial site was inaugurated in 2017 in remembrance of the persecution and deportation of more than 8,000 people from Hamburg and northern Germany.
The new design plans for the documentation centre in the form of a cube with approx. 1,000 square metres of exhibition space on two levels is the result of a mediation process from 2021/ 2022. The documentation centre was originally to be housed on the ground floor of a building on Steinschanze. When it became known that the investor had leased out the upper six floors to the company Wintershall Dea, several associations of victims of Nazi persecution raised objections. Indeed, during the Second World War, the predecessor companies Wintershall and DEA had profited from the Nazi takeover and the war economy. Both companies used and exploited forced labourers, and both companies were involved in plundering resources in eastern and southern Europe that were essential to the war effort.
Mr Müller-Spreer has donated the building on Ericusbrücke and provided the ‘finished building shell’. The exhibition and seminar premises are to be adapted to the new building by a project team from the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres, with the content revised in keeping with the new possibilities afforded at the site.