Demolition Notice

Yerushalayim - A call filled with love for human freedom. That we may overcome the fences in our togetherness and not seek our footing behind the fences of ideology (old inscription). - The stone received a new border as a compromise agreement with the authority after the withdrawal of the demolition order.

Chapter: Milestones / Headwind / Demolition Notice

The Controversy Surrounding the Friedensmal Project: A Chronicle of Events and Reactions

The Demolition Order Was Withdrawn in Autumn 2014

Public Reaction to the Order against the Friedensmal Project

The order for the dismantling of the 'Jerusalem Border Stone' (image) was withdrawn in Autumn 2014. This stone was more than just a 1.3 square meter object on our property; it became a symbol of a lack of appreciation for a private initiative that had fought its way against many resistances—particularly from the Green and far-right political spectrum—leading to further friction. This background, also reflected in media coverage, was illuminated in the preceding chapter 'Causes'.

The Relationship with the Authority

The relationship with the authority was already significantly strained by the approval of a new fence on the neighboring property. The fence was erected precisely where, in the monument, the 'Tree of Life' breaks the 'vicious circle of violence,' absurdly contradicting the artist's intended message for the entire monument design. Despite this artistic argument, the authority granted an exemption for the new fence, calling the entire project into question.

To resolve this dilemma, the artist built the monument differently than originally planned and additionally placed the
'Jerusalem Border Stone'—measures that were later used as grounds for the demolition order. The very fact that the artist was to be punished for his creative solution to a bureaucratic misunderstanding led to deep feelings of disappointment and hurt in him.

The Drainage Measure as a Catalyst

The essential point of conflict in the escalating dispute with the authority was a necessary drainage measure that had to be carried out to protect the structural integrity of the monument. Despite repeated attempts by our non-profit association to get in touch with the authority, coordination was not possible for over a year and a half. Therefore, we felt compelled to carry out the measure independently. This became the actual reason for the 'order for demolition' for, among other things, the 'Jerusalem Border Stone', as they could catch us there.

The Dilemma of Public Support

Despite official approvals and initially positive media coverage, a controversy arose in the media and politics. The question arises as to why politicians, who could have played a key role, did not provide support to the project in its development.

Kurt Knapp, Representative of the Bergstrasse District
Kurt Knapp (pictured on the left), honorary district councilor of the Bergstraße district, gives a speech at the inauguration of the 'Jerusalem Border Stone'.

The Root Cause of the Complications

The main cause for the complications was not malice or a lax approach to rules and laws. What was missing on both ends was the will for an honest and open dialogue. This led to significant misunderstandings and further friction. The border stone with the inscription "Yerushalayim" (Jerusalem), which was affected by the authority's demolition order, had not been a problem until then. It had even been inaugurated previously with representatives from the Bergstraße district and the city of Bensheim as a memorial for a former concentration camp satellite camp in the valley below the Friedensmal.

Projection Surfaces and Societal Reactions

The 'Jerusalem Border Stone' became a projection surface for various societal groups. The demolition order from the authority opened the door for people with anti-Semitic and far-right views. However, we must also admit as a society that we do not know where we truly stand: Due to the sensitivity of the subject and the personal consequences of criticism, few people in Germany dare to express their honest opinions about memorials. This keeps us in the dark about whether and how well these memorials are understood and what impact they actually have.

The heated debate on Facebook about the demolition order and the openly anti-Semitic and far-right statements therein were known to the Hessian state government. This could have contributed to the introduction of the Network Enforcement Act and may even have been a trigger for it. However, here you will find many letters from citizens who advocated for the preservation of the memorial stone, information boards, and benches.

Reflection and Reconciliation

The controversy surrounding the Friedensmal project has raised profound questions about the dialogue between citizens and authorities, the role of the media, and the dynamics of societal projections. It is to be hoped that this experience serves as a catalyst for a deeper engagement with these issues.

Despite the initial conflicts and challenges, the problems ultimately led to positive changes as well. The necessary drainage measure was creatively implemented by the artist through the design of 'angel wings', which now form an aesthetic frame for the monument. This unexpected solution has even benefited the project in retrospect and visually enhanced it. After the uproar, a new dialogue with the district authority took place. It was agreed that the border stone could remain, albeit with a new gravel bed. The artist designed an organically appearing border that even better highlights the stone (see picture). In this way, everyone could save face, and the project could continue in its original intention.

Next Chapter: Media Reports

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