Fritz Bauer Forum in Bochum
A new center for democracy and human rights is being built in a former mourning hall
Stunning pictures of the closed Havkenscheid mourning hall at the main cemetery Freigrafendamm in Bochum. – Video of the city of Bochum
Press release of the city of Bochum
Fritz Bauer was a lawyer and social democrat who resisted National Socialism from the very beginning. He survived the concentration camp and years of exile, fought for democracy and international law. As Attorney General, he stood up for the rights of Holocaust survivors, brought Auschwitz, the crimes of the Wehrmacht, Nazi justice and Nazi medicine to justice. This commitment to democracy and human rights now gets a place.
The city of Bochum is transferring a fascinating, particularly suitable building and plot of land to the non-profit BUXUS STIFTUNG for this purpose under hereditary building rights: the former Havkenscheid mourning hall with the associated former municipal maintenance yard. The forum already exists digitally (www.fritz-bauer-forum.de) and now construction is underway. From 2022, the library can be used in the former mourning hall. After that, the depot will be converted for workshops and seminars, film and art, discussion and events. Rooms for open dialogue, a café and garden will round out the Fritz Bauer Forum.
“The location is ideally suited,” says Dr. Irmtrud Wojak, managing director of the BUXUS STIFTUNG and founder of the Fritz Bauer Forum, “because the former Havkenscheid mourning hall was not tied to any religion. Fritz Bauer also described himself as faithless.”
The city of Bochum is setting an example with the transfer of ownership. “Especially in times when democracy and freedom rights are being challenged in many places, open anti-Semitism and anti-Islamism are on the rise and right-wing radicals are pushing their way forward, it is necessary to act in a way that is guided by human rights,” says city building official Dr. Markus Bradtke.
Created without any religious symbols, the former Havkenscheid mourning hall is a sign for the prospect of dialogue and for peace. The hall was designed in the architectural style of Brutalism by the Bochum city architect Ferdinand Keilmann (1907-1979). He became a member of the NSDAP in 1932 and was involved in the planning for the southern station of Hitler’s “Germania”. After 1945, Keilmann went through the denazification process twice, after which he was appointed to the Bochum structural engineering office.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid tribute to Fritz Bauer, declaring: “Democracy demands vigilance. And it does not allow retreat; it wants interference for its own sake, not for the sake of outrage. Fritz Bauer would have wished for this attitude from us – no, he would have expected it!”
Photos: Renderings ©Dovydas Petruitis, planplus gmbH
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Note to the editors
Website with simulations of the planned rebuild