Memorial against Fascism in Harburg
In January 1983, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Nazis’ seizure of power, the Harburg district assembly unanimously voted to erect a Memorial against Fascism on the Rathausplatz in Harburg.
A design competition was held for the monument, and following intensive debate, the jury chose the proposal by Esther Shalev-Gerz (born 1948) and Jochen Gerz (born 1940), who took a unique approach to grappling with the Nazi period. In 1986, the couple erected a 12-metre-high column clad in lead, and the public was invited to inscribe signatures and comments about the Nazi era into its surface. From the day of the monument’s dedication on 10 October 1986 until 10 November 1993, the column was gradually lowered into the ground in eight stages. This created space for new comments, but it also symbolised the burial of memory. By the time the column disappeared into the ground, it had around 60,000 inscriptions of various types: signatures, contemplative reflections, anti-fascist quotes, proverbs and xenophobic slogans. Each time the column was lowered, the event was accompanied by panel discussions and lectures on the history of National Socialism.
Today all that remains visible of the monument is the lead panel on the top of the column, which is now level with the ground. A window in a pedestrian underpass provides a view of part of the column underground. Information panels describe the creation of the monument and the reason for its installation. The empty space left by the sunken monument is explained as follows: ‘In the end it is only we ourselves who can rise up against injustice.’