Friday, March 06, 2009

Desctruction of the Cologne City Archive

It has been briefly in the news on TV here in the UK that on 4.March in Cologne a house crashed down as a consequence of subway construction, but I only found out more details when reading Spiegel Online: The building which had collapsed was the city archive of Cologne. Two people died. The archive had contained the complete documentation of the city, starting from the 12th century. Many 10,000 of documents, books, historic materials are lost. The legacy of nobel laureate Heinrich Boell which just had been moved recently into the archive, is lost. The cultural damage is immeasurable.

This leads to the question why such documents were not stored appropriately in safe-like conditions, in metal containers, or something that would prevent damage. It also raises the question about the subway construction in Cologne which is highly controversial. Maybe it should have been built deeper, or not underneath the historic centre of Cologne. Now a lot of protest against completing this subway line is starting to appear.


John Heap said...

The report I read said the archive material had been removed before the collapse. Is this not so?

Reinhold Behringer said...

Hi John,
no, maybe a tiny part was on loan, but the majority of the documents was stored in this archive.
They hope that some of the old parchment documents may survive and can be restored, but whatever is made of paper, is assumed to be crushed and dissolved by the ground water and rain.