Guest Lecture - "Politics, Community, and Loss in Post-War Heilbronn"
On December 4, 1944, a single air raid destroyed Heilbronn, a German city near Stuttgart. According to the authorities, 6530 citizens lost their lives in the attack. Nineteen years later, on December 4, 1963, a memorial hall commemorating the event opened its gates. How to create a space that would reflect the devastating losses and impart reflection to the viewers at a time of growing distance to the event itself? How should the losses of life and urban fabric be remembered? How to combine a space for mourning and remembering while also providing direction and guidance to the post-war citizenry of Heilbronn? These were questions that overshadowed the debate leading up to the hall’s 1963-opening. A discussion of the Ehrenhalle as an architectural space for the urban public with its aesthetics of conspicuous restraint reveals insights into the political and social formation of German society after 1945 – a post-war communalism predicated on a shared notion of war losses.