‘House of horror & torture’: Redevelopment of Gestapo HQ into luxury condo sparks anger in Hamburg
In 2009, city planners awarded a development contract to Quantum Immobilien to convert a complex of four buildings dating to the 19th century into a multi-purpose apartment complex. One of the buildings, now known as the Stadthöfe (City Courtyards), served as the city headquarters of the Gestapo – the Nazi secret police who used the facility to interrogate and torture people between 1933-43 during the reign of the Third Reich.
“Many people died after the torture, which is unmentioned. That’s why there must be a commemorative place here. It is a social obligation for the victims, who have come here with sorrow,” Detlef Baade, the son of a resistance fighter killed by the Gestapo told RT’s Ruptly video agency.
“One must feel sorry for the future tenants. They do not even know that if it’s a hotel, for example, it’s a hotel of horror and torture,” he added.
“Stadthöfe is the former Gestapo headquarters in Hamburg. Torture took place there. Basically, it is one of the places where brutality took place. And I believe that this place should be more appreciated than it currently is,” Norbert Hackbusch from Die Linke party told Ruptly.
When the development was approved by the city, it urged Quantum Immobilien to allocate at least 1,000 square meters for a memorial to Gestapo victims. Over the years, however, the developer kept on shrinking the space of the said . memorial. As things stand, the total area for a commemoration section now reportedly measures a mere 75 square meters. It will include a small room in a shop on the ground floor and a small plaque on the street.
“The whole building was sold by Hamburg city, and part of that deal was that the company 'Quantum' will create and take care of a decent memorial,” Hackbusch said. “Now the question is what is a good or decent place for the memorial, and this is the topic of the dispute. We are convinced that what is planned now is not worthy of the memorial.”
Such blatant disregard for the families of victims triggered public anger. Some even pointed out that the welcoming sign at Stadthöf looks inappropriately similar to the sign used by the Nazis at the entrances to their death camps.
“We got together because we realized that there won't be a memorial, but that there should be a hotel there and cafes but no memory of the victims,” Baade noted.
“‘Homage to life’ in a place of death is at the very least tasteless, and what was printed by many newspapers: 'Hello hello hello Stadthoefe', which is phrased in a way that's reminiscent of the words at the concentration camp entrances 'work sets you free',” Cornelia Kerth, President of the Association of Victims of the Nazi Regime told Ruptly standing in front of the complex.
“This is actually an indication that nothing has been understood, that nothing of the history of this place has flowed into the concept of Quantum.”
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