Harburg Anti-Fascist Memorial
Corner of Harburger Ring and Hölertwiete
Harburg Anti-Fascist MemorialJochen Gerz (born 1940) and Esther Shalev-Gerz (born 1948) provoked an international discussion, over a period of eight years, with their 1986-1993 Anti-Fascist Memorial. On the 10th November 1993, faithful to the artists' concept, the memorial was definitively lowered into the ground. It was intended to provoke thought and reaction, over a not indefinite period of time, and to remain in peoples memories, rather than becoming a mere token of guilt which through habituation becomes forgotten or ignored.
Citizens of Hamburg and visitors to the city were invited to add their names to those of the artists on the tower. It was intended to commit people to being and remaining vigilant. As each section of the 12 m high pillar was covered in names so was that particular section lowered into the ground, until finally the tower was completely beneath the ground. The belief was that no permanent object can be a substitute for the fight against injustice. This was the artistic concept and is what remains of the original memorial, written in seven languages, on the site of the former pillar.
In 1986 in Harburg Ring, close to the Harburg Town Hall, the pillar was erected on top of a brick platform situated between Hauptstraße and the entrance to the underground commuter (S) station. The 1 m² crosss-section lead pillar was lowered into the ground in eight stages until all that remained was the top of the pillar as a lead plaque level with the ground, and a small window in a door in the platform beneath, with a view of a pedestrian subway and the shaft with the buried pillar.
2nd Lowering in October 1988 4th Lowering in February 1990
5th Lowering in December 1990 7th Lowering in November 1992
The concealed memorial symbolizes the suppressed memory of the holocaust. There were 60,000
visible reactions added to the memorial. The concept was totally successful; the lead surface
was substancially covered in both a positive and negative manner. In addition to signatures
there were sayings and quotations, racial remarks and swastikas were visible and overwritten
with "Nazis out!", felt-tip pen graffiti, and spray-tags, scratches and scrapes, and a hole
gouged into the lead surface in naked violence. The most extreme reaction was that it
received a bullet shot.
Detail of the Surface of the Memorial   ; Damage to the Lead Surface of the Memorial
The staged lowering of the memorial, programmed events and discussions enabled the artists to repeatedly bring the memorial into public debate and maintain a high profile over the eight year period.
Following this project Jochen Gerz created an even more abstract "memorial" in Saarbrücken in which the names of Jewish cemeteries were written on the underside of stones in a palace courtyard. In 1990 Jochen Gerz was awarded the Bremen Roland-Prize for "Kunst im öffentlichen Raum"/"Art in the Environment". In Bremen he developed an artistic project in which no visible object was created; the "memorial" existed in a survey and public discussion.
Both Jochen Gerz and Esther Shalev-Gerz as artists represent a concept of art in which the recipient is not only personally involved but is invited to take the responsibility for the final shape of the work of art.