Counter-memorial to the ‘76th Monument’
A monument referred to as the ‘76th Monument’ was placed between Stephansplatz and Dammtorbahnhof in 1936. This seven-metre-high block of shell limestone was designed by the sculptor Richard Kuöhl (1880-1961), and it was erected on the initiative of former members of the 76th Infantry Regiment. A relief sculpture of 88 life-sized soldiers marching into battle is carved all around the block. The inscription reads: ‘Germany must live even if we must die’.
Discussions about the monument
Although the monument was created during preparations for a new world war and does not commemorate fallen soldiers, the British Military Government left it standing after 1945, unlike other Nazi monuments. The public grew increasingly critical of the monument in the 1970s, and in the early 1980s the Hamburg Senate announced a competition to redesign the memorial area. The proposal for a four-part counter-monument designed by Viennese sculptor Alfred Hrdlicka (1928–2009) was chosen in 1983.
The first part of the counter-monument was dedicated on 8 May 1985 and is entitled ‘Hamburger Feuersturm’ ('Hamburg Firestorm'). It consists of an irregular bronze wall that is crumbling at the top, with broken beams jutting from it, and bronze and marble sculptures of burned bodies.
The second part, the ‘Fluchtgruppe Cap Arcona’ ('Fleeing the Cap Arcona'), was dedicated on 29 September 1986. This marble sculpture depicts a group of people being engulfed by a large wave. It commemorates the around 7,000 prisoners from the Neuengamme concentration camp who were forced to board the Cap Arcona and other ships after Neuengamme was cleared by the SS. Many prisoners died when the ships were mistakenly bombed by British Royal Air Force and sunk in the Bay of Lübeck on 3 May 1945.
The cost of producing these sculptures was so high that the designated budget for the counter-monument was exhausted after the first two pieces were completed. The last two planned components – ‘Soldatentod’ ('Soldiers’ Death') and ‘Frauenbild im Faschismus’ ('Image of Woman and Fascism') – were never realised.
Plans for a deserters’ monument
In June 2012, the Hamburg Parliament unanimously voted to create a Memorial for Deserters and Other Victims of the Nazi Military Judiciary. A site near the ‘76th Monument’ and counter-monument was proposed as the location. This memorial site was completed in November 2015.