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  Taller/Workshop CV Horst Hoheisel selected projects of Horst Hoheisel

Memorial Projects of Horst Hoheisel (selection)
Crushed History – Zermahlene Geschichte [Weimar 1997 – 2003]

Marstall of Weimar. Today, the Governmental Archives of Thuringia [Thüringisches Hauptstaatsarchiv] are housed there, and a modern archive was built within the restored shell of the building. In order to facilitate the construction of the storage cellar under the Marstall courtyard, two buildings dating from the Nazi period that were under a preservation order had to be demolished: a former Gestapo administrative barracks and a temporary Gestapo prison in an old carriage shed. Both buildings continued to be used by the Soviet Ministry of the Interior until 1950. A work of art commemorates the demolished buildings and form a reminder of the crimes of history committed in them. Design: The demolition of the Gestapo barracks and the prison building was made public. The buildings were crushed in a crushing mill to wood chips and masonry granulates.
During the whole of the construction period, this material was stored temporarily in two containers placed in front of the Marstall building. The containers bear photos of the barracks and the prison, like labels, together with a statement of their contents written by the archive’s two directors:


Crushed History 1936 – 1997 [Barracks], 1875 – 1997 [Prison]

Almost exactly the same day five years after the demolition of the buildings [November 9th 2002], when construction work of the new archive was finished, we threw back the crushed history material, the crushed prison and the wood chips of the Gestapo barracks over the courtyard of the Governmental Archives of Thuringia [marking the shredded buildings]. The plans of both buildings are made visible as stippled contours in the courtyard, and a vertical focus into the storage cellar of the Governmental Archives [finished in 2002] was created by means of appropriately placed plate-glass slits. By no means a conventional memorial, but certainly one that will invite the viewer to engage actively in an act of remembrance by pointing in silent admonition to the documents of the archives: Goethe’s ministerial correspondence lying cheek to cheek with Bauhaus files and the Buchenwald card index system.

The Crushed History will be crushed on under the steps of the staff, visitors and users of the archive.

The Gateways of the Germans

[Berlin 1997]
27. Januar 1997 the liberation day of Auschwitz
Light Installation on the Brandenburg Gate – »ARBEIT MACHT FREI«

The Monument of the Grey Buses

More than 60 years after the transports from Weissenau across the Region to Grafeneck (at that stage the buses and their destination were already well known by the people) a monument, which ought to recall the Death Trips, was realised on the draft of Horst Hoheisel & Andreas Knitz: A walkable grey bus, sliced in segments, cast in concrete in full-scale, permanently blocks the historic door, the former gate, through which the death buses of “Euthanasia”-T4-campaign left the premises of the ancient sanatorium Weissenau.

The Moving Monument

A second similar grey monument-bus changes its location over the years. It appears in Ravensburg and later on moves along the historic route via several stations to Grafeneck, the death venue of the patients. The second grey bus will be located alongside the route to Grafeneck in several places. The change of places will take months or years, according to the duration of negotiation and organisation (the transport shall be financed with donations or public funds).

With this draft we do not only want to raise a monument for the victims of the “euthanasia”-murder, but also reflect the deed and the perpetrators by using the grey buses, the tools of the perpetrators, as a “means of transport” of memory.
It is a matter of retrospection of an entire region, not only of Ravensburg and Weissenau.

Horst Hoheisel und Andreas Knitz - Ravensburg 2006 (Translation: Sinje Miebach)

Aschrottfountain (Kassel 1985)

„The sunken fountain is not the memorial at all.It is only history turned into a pedestal, an invitationto passersby who stand upon it to search for thememorial in their own heads.For only there is the memorial to be found.“ Horst Hoheisel

In 1908, Sigmund Aschrott, one of Kassel’s entrepreneurs, instructed the City Hall architect, Karl Roth, to design a fountain tor the new City Hall building which was then on the drawing-board. This sandstone obelisk-shaped fountain, constructed on an historical sandstone catchment became the characterizing feature ot the City Hall’s Courtyard of Honour, the Rathausehrenhof constituting a counterbalance to the monumental Henschel fountain (Henschelbrunnen)on the opposite side. Ihe citizens of Kassel loved the fountain and identified with it. The fountain became a symbol ot their civic pride. On April 9, 1939, National Socialist activists from Kassel destroyed the fountain. Ihe fountain was a symbol for them too, a symbol of their hate: its founder; Sigmund Aschrott, was a jew. Today, this act of destruction by the Nazis has, in turn, also come to symbolize something for us: the irreparable destruction of their own bond with European civilization, with their/our own history and cultural heritage. And, during the post-war years, one symbolic act followed on the heels of another. In 1963, long after the Nazi municipal authorities had planted flowers in the empty basin ot the fountain, the Aschrottbrunnen was once more turned into a fountain. During my childhood in Kassel there were no signs to remind us either of the obelisk designed by Karl Roth or of its founder, Sigmund Aschrott. In Kassel, no one wished to be reminded ot the victims ot National Socialism, of their own guilt, turning to look in the other direction while crimes were being committed. The fountain had become a symbol of memories repressed, the desire to forget.

In December 1986, Horst Hoheisel was commissioned to execute his proposal during documenta 8. On December 10, 1987, the new Aschrott Fountain was inaugurated, and on November 7, 1988 - the 50th anniversary of the November pogrom - a memorial plaque commemorating its troubled history was set into the base.Horst Hoheisel’s new Aschrottbrunnen is a statement that is made all the more powerful by its subtile expression. It brings home to the viewer the extent of the deep wound inflicted at the heart ot Kassel on April 9, 1939, right in front of the City Hall - a wound that will never heal, a wound not to be paved or glossed over. It sparked numerous public debates even while it was being built, evoking great interest among Kassel’s residents. This interest in the Aschrottbrunnen continues today, intriguing especially young people, who are curious to know more about the darkest period ot their city’s history, now rescued from oblivion. For it is a memorial in the deepest sense of the word, a stimulant to memory, a flint to fire debate. And although it is a ,negative form’ and, as such, sunk deep into the ground, it has remained a stumbling block tor those who would prefer it not to be there. When all’s said and done, the new Aschrottbrunnen has indeed become a ,Symbol of Remembrance’, a wish voiced in 1990 by Ester Haß. And that’s no small thing these days tor a memorial. Hans Eichel, State Governor of Hesse

,What did the artist have in mind?’ - Ten years after the inauguration of the Aschrottbrunnen, people in Kassel still ask me this question. I like to throw the ball back at them, countering with a question of my own: ,What crossed people’s minds in 1939, when Nazi activists first demolished the fountain and then, by an official ordinance ot the mayor of the city, the remaining pieces were cleared away? What crossed the minds of Kassel’s citizens when, in 1941 and 1942, the deportation trains left from track 3 at the main railway station, deporting more than 3000 Jews from Kassel to Riga, Majdanek and Theresienstadt?’
A simple counter-question is my way of meeting the never-ending stream of attempts to interpret the Shoah. The form that Germans destroyed between 1933 and 1945 can no longer be grasped, either mentally or physically. The destruction of the sandstone form, an ,architectural folly’ as the architect ot City Hall then termed it, was followed by the destruction of the human form. The only way I know to make this loss visible is through a perceptibly empty space, representing the space once occupied. Instead of continuously searching foryet another explanation or interpretation of that which has been lost, I prefer facing the loss as a vanished form. A reflective listening into the void, into the negative of an irretrievable form, where the memory of that which has been lost resounds, is preferable to a mere numb endurance of the facts.
Horst Hoheisel