Monument ‘Here and Now’ to Victims of the Nazi Judicial System in Hamburg
It took many years before a monument to victims of the Nazi judicial system was finally erected in Hamburg in 1997. The injustices committed by judges and solicitors during the ‘Third Reich’ targeted resistance groups, Communists, Social Democrats and other opposition groups with various political backgrounds, as well as homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, so-called ‘race defilers’ and many others.
Death sentences from Nazi judges
During World War II, many of the victims in Nazi courts were foreign forced labourers. In Hamburg alone, criminal courts issued more than 200 death sentences, most of which were carried out by guillotine in the remand prison on Holstenglacis. Many other condemned prisoners died when they were transferred from prisons to concentration camps for ‘extermination through labour’ by the SS.
Commemorating the victims of injustice
In 1985, the Richterverein (Judges’ Association) opened an exhibition on ‘The Hamburg Judicial System in the Nazi Period’ in Room 707 of the Civil Justice Building at Sievekingplatz 1. In 1988, plaques were placed on a wall in the Wallanlagen park near the remand prison to commemorate two resistance fighters from France and four Lübeck clergymen, all of whom were executed on the site in 1943.
A monument designed by the artist Gloria Friedmann (born 1950) was dedicated on 1 October 1997. It was commissioned by the Hamburg Judicial Authority and erected in co-operation with the Hamburg Cultural Authority following years of campaigning by the Judges’ Association. The monument consists of a grey rectangular block inscribed with ‘1933’ on one side and showing a large-scale colour photograph of Hamburg on the other. In front of the block are 90 iron tables holding pots which originally had a variety of plants growing in them: roses next to nettles, medicinal herbs next to toxic plants. The different types of plants were supposed to represent different cultures, religions, social environments and nations. The pots have since been replanted with largely identical plants, including pansies, which negates the original idea behind the memorial.