01/26/2022 News

On the location of the denk.mal Documentation Centre Hannoverscher Bahnhof

A year ago, after the Hamburger Abendblatt announced in the 16th/17th January 2021 that the Wintershall Deah is moving to HafenCity, debates began about the location of the planned denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof documentation centre on the edge of Lohsepark.

The documentation centre will focus on the deportations of over 8,000 Jews, as well as Sinti and Roma to ghettos and extermation camps between 1940 and 1945. The name “Hannoverscher Bahnhof” (Hannover Station) refers to the historic railway station that was located on the site of today’s park, from which a large number of the deportation trains departed. When it became known that the upper floors of the building would be occupied by a company that forced people into becoming forced labourers on a large scale during National Socialism in the war economy. A solution was sought in a mediation process involving the city, the investor (Wintershall Dea), the Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres and the associations. On 17th January 2022, exactly one year after the lease agreement concluded by the investor became known, the result of the mediation was publicly announced. The Documentation Centre will be realised at another, more suitable location at Lohsepark as an independent free-standing building. The City of Hamburg has commented on the process and the conclusion of the procedure in a press release in which all parties involved have their say.

The Foundation of Hamburg Memorials and Learning Centres welcomes the agreement and the spatial separation. The location for such a documentation centre is a sensitive issue and has a symbolic power that has an impact beyond the borders of Hamburg. Last year, our foundation, together with the Jewish community, the liberal Jewish community, the Rom and Cinti Union and the State Association of Sinti, commemorated the deportations with commemorative events that received a great deal of attention. We would like to thank all those involved for their constructive cooperation and participation in the search for a solution. The disputes have now followed the work of our foundation and the project team developing the contents of the exhibition for a year. It was a long year in which many things remained uncertain. We would also like to thank the organisations represented on our advisory board, the expert commission and the foundation council, namely its chairman Senator Dr Brosda, for their support.

We now hope for a successful progression of the project. Due to the fact that the construction of the new building requires a new planning and realisation process, the opening of the Documentation Centre (planned for 2023) will have to be postponed for three years. In the time until the opening, which is now planned for 2026, the project team will publicly present excerpts from the contents of the Documentation Centre with partial exhibitions, digital and artistic presentations as well as events on the history of the deportations, their preconditions and consequences.

It is also to be welcomed that Wintershall Dea AG will continue to deal with the National Socialist history of the company and will use the reappraisal to the stimulus to assess its own corporate culture. A further training programme and other initiatives are planned. It is a good sign that the conflict over the location of the denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof documentation centre has had an impact in many areas, both internally and externally, on the debate about an appropriate culture of remembrance in Hamburg.