4
   

Multi-storey building (historiy archive) collapses in Cologne/Germany

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 08:53 am
@wandeljw,
No - but we passed the Severins bridge.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 10:43 am
History in Ruins: Archive Collapse Disaster for Historians
Quote:
The collapse of the Historical Archive of Cologne on Tuesday buried more than a millenium's worth of documents under tons of rubble. Archivists and historians hope something can be salvaged, but the future of the city's past is grim.
[...]
Cologne's history goes back more than 2000 years, when it was the Roman city of Colonia. In the Middle Ages, the city's prime spot along the Rhine River made it one of northern Europe's trading powerhouses, part of the Hanseatic League and a gateway between France and Germany. The Historical Archives contained extensive documentation from the city's Hanseatic period, as well as the archives of other Hanseatic League members, invaluable for historians looking at Europe's economic development.
The sheer numbers -- in total, the building had more than 18 kilometers of shelves -- reflect the rich history of what was once Germany's largest metropolis. The archive's collection of original documents included thousands from Cologne's golden age. The founding charter of the University of Cologne, signed in 1388, was inside, along with the documents that established Cologne as a free imperial city under Emperor Friedrich III in 1475. Two of the four manuscripts in the hand of Albertus Magnus, considered the greatest German theologian of the Middle Ages, were kept in the archive's rare books collection.

For historians trying to reconstruct the past, the greatest loss may be the more quotidian papers: Tens of thousands of receipts issued by the city government between 1350 and 1450, for example, or the 358 volumes of decisions and minutes of the Cologne City Council dating back 700 years.

The archives also contained the personal papers of almost 800 prominent German authors, politicians and composers, including Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war chancellor of Germany. The manuscripts and letters of Nobel Prize winner Heinrich Böll and Jacques Offenbach, a 19th century cellist and opera composer, were stored at the archive. Weimar Republic politician Wilhelm Marx and German-Jewish composer Ferdinand Hiller were among the other notables whose collections have been buried under tons of concrete. "These are fragile papers, that are now ground to dust," Illner told the daily.
And somewhere underneath the rubble lie the remains of 500,000 photographs of the city and its people, an irreplaceable visual record of life in Germany's fourth largest city. Likewise, more than 100,000 architectural drawings and plans may have been destroyed.
There may be no way to recover the lost collections. Large parts of the pre-1945 documents were put on microfilm and stored in a bunker in the Black Forest, but according to Illner the microfilm is of poor quality. And the post-war collections -- including records from the Cologne Art Association used to track the provenance of artworks -- have no back-up at all.

From the outside, the Historical Archive certainly looked indestructible. The bunker-like concrete structure was built in 1971, with a raw concrete façade and slit-like windows. Designers hoped the mass of concrete would keep the temperature inside constant without expensive air conditioning systems, an archive design that became known as the "Cologne model."

Yet just weeks before the collapse, the archive organized a symposium to talk about the building's shortcomings. In the decades since its construction, the building had run out of space, and some of its secondary collections were housed in rented spaces nearby. The building's thick concrete turned out to trap heat, and in the unusually hot summers of 2003 and 2006 temperatures in parts of the archive topped 85 degrees, potentially disastrous for fragile documents and the wax seals that adorn some of the 65,000 original documents dating back to 922 AD in the archive's collection. Until a few years ago, the archive's 26 workers shared a single Internet connection.

That's all irrelevant now, of course. As rescue crews struggle to secure the ruins -- pumping concrete into the spaces below ground to stabilize the rubble -- archivists are hoping more can be salvaged from the wreckage. Firefighters said Wednesday it was unlikely they would find any survivors.
The head of the city's fire department, Stephan Neuhoff, said officials believe the building's collapse may be related to the construction of a subway line beneath the same street where the archive is located.

This isn't the first time a major German archive has been hit by disaster. In 2004, the Anna Amalia Archive in Weimar lost 70,000 books in a fire. "Unlike a fire or a flood, lots of people hope that the stuff isn't totally destroyed," Jurgen Weise, a historian at the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv, or Rhineland-Westfalen Economic Archive, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "It's possible we might be able to rescue it, but it could start raining at any time." Archivists hope the city can put a roof or shelter over the ruins as quickly as possible -- and then see if any of the city's history can be salvaged.

0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:19 am
It makes sense that the archive had the personal papers of Konrad Adenauer. After World War I when he was mayor of Cologne, my grandmother worked in his office as an English-German interpreter.

When my mother was growing up in a suburb of Cologne, Willy Millowitsch was one of their neighbors. I wonder if the archives had material on him? (Millowitsch was the equivalent of Bob Hope in Germany.)
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:45 am
@wandeljw,
I could have answered your question, jw, within seconds - two days ago - since I've online access to most archives in our state (and beyond).

But since yesterday noon-time .... Crying or Very sad
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:46 am
When I posted, I'd missed Walter's earlier post about trouble in other nearby buildings as well.

This all reminds me, there was some consternation about an underground dig for (rail lines?) right under or near the Barcelona cathedral a year or two ago.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 11:55 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Walter Hinteler wrote:

I could have answered your question, jw, within seconds - two days ago - since I've online access to most archives in our state (and beyond).

But since yesterday noon-time .... Crying or Very sad


Well, the online search still works (of course: the server will be somwhere else).

They've got some Millowitsch-related sources, but just his entry in the "Goldene Buch der Stadt" and a book about the city's history where "Willy" is mentioned explicitly. (Additionally some posters, pamphlets, photos etc)
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 12:17 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
my father's dad was the master of a "piledriving crew" from about 1910 - 1930 in germany .

modern piledriver

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~treebz65/momside/smith/eesmith/eesmithwork/piledriver_crane.jpg

the drivers used at that time were huge steam-driven machines - all i could find was this pix of a model - without the steam-unit

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/59/Roman_Pile_Driver%2C_Festung_Ehrenbreitstein%2C_Koblenz%2C_Germany.jpg/450px-Roman_Pile_Driver%2C_Festung_Ehrenbreitstein%2C_Koblenz%2C_Germany.jpg



about 1910 a large multi-story building (karstadt) was being built in hamburg .
it survived the bombing during WW II - but in the early 1950's the building walls started to crack and the building was considered unstable .

grampa had been employed about 1910 to 1912 with his crew to drive the massive wooden piles into the sandy soil on which the building was to rest .
a/t his story , the builder approached the construction crew with a unique suggestion : "we can all make a little extra money if we speed up the job . let's cut every tenth pile into nine short sections . you drive in nine piles and at night you drive in the short pile . the job gets done more quickly , which will make the owner happy . you get paid by the piles you drive , so you'll get paid the same amount of money in a shorter period of time and can go on to another job more quickly . and i get to save 10% of all piles . those few "short" piles won't make any difference to the building - it's always "over-engineered" . "

a/t to grampa , that's what they did and the results showed up 40 years later .
the building was somehow shored up and still stands today - grampa's story never made it into the news .
hbg

the building about 1960 - and still a large and one of the better "kaufhaus" stores - fore-runner of shopping mall

http://www.heimatsammlung.de/topo_unter/20_ab04/images_01/moenckebergstrasse-1144.jpg

ps. grampa's unit hit a gaspipe in the port of danzig (gdansk - poland) in the early 30's - BANG !!! - that was the end of his career - his left arm was crippled severely .
0 Replies
 
wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 12:17 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I hope they are able to salvage these important documents (as well as my birth record). Smile
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 12:42 pm
@wandeljw,
wj :

i believe that copies of all german birth-records are kept in berlin .
when mrs h and i got married , she was misssing one importatant document : her BIRTHRECORD !
i'd had been left behind when her family fled east-prussia just before the soviets arrived .
so the registrar (standesbeamte) entered on our marriage certificate :
"BIRTH NOT PROVED" (geburt nicht nachgewiesen) . by the standards of the registrar she was probably not even born - even standing in front of him with a valid pasSport . "those officials at the passport office will issue a passport to just about anyone " , he said (the beamten im reisepass buero sind nicht besonders genau , die geben ja fast jedem einen reisepass) .

it sure grated on her over the years .
when we applied for our german pension through the german consular offices in toronto about 20 years ago , we had a very friendly german consular official (of course , he'd been born in hamburg !!! <GRIN> ) .
he explained to us that we should be able to get a copy of her birth certificate through the central german registry office in berlin .
about a month later we received two copies of the birth-certificate - still written in the fancy cursive script : her birth was finally acknowledged as actually having taken place ! what a relief !
hbg

ps if you need the address of the central german registry , i might be able to find it in our safe-deposit box . a/t the official , copies of all registry records were regularly sent on to berlin and survived the war .




wandeljw
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 01:36 pm
Thanks, hamburger. I actually have a copy of my German birth record. It shows I was born in St. Elisabeth's Hospital in Cologne.
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 01:54 pm
@wandeljw,
wj :

"cologne " - i see .
the people of hamburg thought that in cologne people just lived for carnival !
it was claimed that the people of cologne surely were taking all their belongings to the pawnshop (leihhaus) for carnival and that the birthrate would climb to astronomical heights nine months later !!!
(ja , ja , diese rheinlaender leben doch nur fuer's vergnuegen)
hbg

ps of course , i'm talking "history" here

0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 4 Mar, 2009 01:58 pm
@hamburger,
Just to clarify this a bit: the Federal Central Registry (formerly in Bonn, now in Berlin) is ... an agency of the Federal Ministry of Justice for e.g. 'Führungszeugnis" ("Bundeszentralregister").

The registry office No. 1 in Berlin ("Standesamt I in Berlin") deals with all registry acts in former German countries and provinces.

Generally, you only can get your birth certificate from registry office responsible for your birth place.

For wandel that would be in Haus Neuerburg in Cologne. Wink
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 12:50 pm
Two persons died - the second one was found just minutes ago.
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 01:34 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
walter :

i looked at the website of the federal central registry and it looks as if the only way to get a certificate is via the website - couldn't find a postal address .
how simple it was 25 years ago :
sent a letter per mail ,
received copy of birth certificate promptly ,
letter stated that a payment of 10 marks would be appreciated (and was promptly sent) . there was no request for "pre-payment" in those days .

the WWW is great but ordinary mail wasn't - and still isn't - that bad .
hbg

Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 01:53 pm
@hamburger,
hamburger wrote:

i looked at the website of the federal central registry and it looks as if the only way to get a certificate is via the website - couldn't find a postal address .


Could you give me the link? I've never heard of such an institution (only about what the Standesamt Berlin I does. [Before 2008 this was done, for the former four Allied Zones, in Baden-Baden, Berlin, Hamburg and München.])
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 02:06 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
walter :

i found this website under "geburtsurkunde " at " google.de " .

http://standesamtauskunft.de/Default.aspx

i imagine that is the proper site ?

i see you are still up and about .
winter hasn't gone away here yet - still minus 14 c for tonight - but it should gradually be warming up starting saturday .
sun is shining into the window and blinding me a bit - may have to close the curtains .
take care !
hbg
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 02:40 pm
@hamburger,
That's a commercial website.

Well, it's just "a quarter to ten" - we're still in 'Winterzeit' Wink
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 02:46 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
That's a commercial website.


darned ! "looked" pretty authentic !
good thing mrs h has her certificate already - in duplicate !
been on "summertime" for a week - but no summer temps !
hbg
0 Replies
 
hamburger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 03:05 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
aha !

checked via german consulate/toronto :

http://www.toronto.diplo.de/Vertretung/toronto/en/04/ConsularServices/seite__birth__certificate.html

which leads to :

http://www.berlin.de/standesamt1/index.html

is that a more reliable website ?

("suchet so werdet ihr finden , klopfet an , so wird euch aufgetan ! " oder doch wenigstens so ungefaehr ?)
hbg
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Thu 12 Mar, 2009 03:07 pm
@hamburger,
That's what I was talking about: the Standesamt I Berlin deals with such.

See: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standesamt
 

Related Topics

THE BRITISH THREAD II - Discussion by jespah
FOLLOWING THE EUROPEAN UNION - Discussion by Mapleleaf
The United Kingdom's bye bye to Europe - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
Sinti and Roma: History repeating - Discussion by Walter Hinteler
[B]THE RED ROSE COUNTY[/B] - Discussion by Mathos
Leaving today for Europe - Discussion by cicerone imposter
So you think you know Europe? - Discussion by nimh
 
Copyright © 2024 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 05/25/2024 at 03:42:41