Museum - Around the memorial

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Ecco Homo (Oskar Kokoschka)

Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka (1886 - 1980) designed this picture of Christ on the cross with a soldier passing him the sponge soaked in vinegar; the soldier’s expression is not full of hatred, but indifferent and apathetic. The artist called this picture Ecce Homo – ‘Behold the Man’, appealing to our humaneness and compassion.

In 1972 Sergio Cicognani of Ravenna produced two versions of this picture as mosaics to commemorate the victims of the bombings:

  • a picture in black and white mounted in the choir of the Memorial.
  • a coloured mosaic mounted above the main altar of the new Hauptkirche St. Nikolai at the Klosterstern. Its title is Ecce Homines – ‘Behold the people’, so indifferent on the one hand, so defencelessly suffering on the other.

These works link the old and the new site of the parish of St. Nikolai.

The Ordeal (Edith Breckwoldt)

This sculpture is dedicated to the memorial in Sandbostel where in one of the largest prisoner camps established by the Nazis more than 50,000 people from many countries had died until 1945. The base of this sculpture consists of the original bricks of the prisoners’ barracks which Sandbostel pupils had collected on the former camp grounds.

The title ‘The Ordeal’ reflects the way in which affected individuals coped with this extreme situation and also invites the beholder to deal with it.
The artist has added an impressive text by theologian and resistance fighter Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

‘No man in the whole world can change the truth.
One can only look for the truth, find it and serve it.
The truth is in all places.’

Angel on Earth (Edith Breckwoldt)

‘Take my hand and I will guide you back to yourself.’

With this sculpture the artist wants to show that all strength and all knowledge reside within man himself. If he finds the way back to himself, he will recognise this core and find his peace which is prerequisite for a community spirit and peacefulness among people.

The artist presents the sculpture’s title in eight languages to offer guidance to international visitors.

Prayer for Peace (Edith Breckwoldt)

This sculpture intends with meditative strength to build a bridge from the terrifying events of the past for which the Memorial stands to a future full of hope which is possible only in times of peace. The visitor is invited to become part of this process.

Female Angel (Barbara Häger)

Artist Barbara Häger (1919 - 2004) enrolled in sculpture studies at the Kunstakademie in Frankfurt a.M., in Berlin and at the Landeskunstschule Hamburg under Edwin Scharff. Since 1953 she had received several commissions for works of art on buildings in Hamburg.

In 1960 she created the Female Angel, a representational sculpture, moulded and cast in bronce. The Landeskirche bought this sculpture for the Memorial in 1972. The sculpture is placed at Neue Burg immediately behind the apse between two pier buttresses.

Right to the top … (Mirja Grosskinsky)

In January 2013 an impressive art installation entitled ‘Right to the top…’ was mounted on the spire of St. Nikolai Memorial. This work of art consists of a blue arrow pointing straight up to the sky, bearing the icons of the Kirchentag campaign. The west façade of the spire which due to restoration work has been scaffolded can now offer so-called Kunst am Bau (a work of art on a building). The arrow was jointly commissioned by St. Nikolai Memorial and the 34th German Protestant Kirchentag.

The installation, 15 by 10 metres in size, was designed by Hamburg architect Mirja Grosskinsky. She explained, ‘‘Drawn in the cityscape, the arrow serves to point the way. By changing the scale it changes our ‘habits of seeing things’. In a very striking fashion it points us in the right direction and serves as a landmark. An allusion to – this is where we want to go … to the Kirchentag/up the spire."