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Bergsträßer Anzeiger on January 4, 2010

"Friedensmal Wendepunkt e. V.": Association is approved for project at Hochstädten / start of construction in spring 2010

"Tree of Life" in a stone circle

Approved first version of the Friedensmal

Bensheim. At the end of more than eleven years of development and persuasion, the project "Friedensmal" is now facing its immediate realization. After the purchase of the property in 2006, the association has received a few days ago the planning permission of the district Bergstrasse. Thus nothing stands in the way of a realization, as initiator and chairman Thomas Zieringer informs. The project is a monument on the Hochstaedter district, which was thought out and designed by Zieringer - author and artist - as a national monument.

On the European hiking trail

The property is located on a hill on the
European long-distance path E8 near an old tunnel of a former marble factory. Since the area is located in a landscape preserve, the association must coordinate with the nature conservation authority in the course of further planning. However, Zieringer does not fear official stumbling blocks in this regard: this Peace Memorial preserves a part of the characteristic cultural landscape, the form and design blend in harmoniously with local conditions, according to the chairman, who speaks of a gentle tourism in this context. Rather than an intervention in nature, an aesthetic transformation takes place within the existing landscape.

The construction period should last around three years. Completion is expected at the end of 2012 at the earliest. "It takes us so long to get enough of the rare stones delivered" explains the chairman. For the circular monument with a diameter of 26 meters, Odenwälder Quartz is provided, which must be transported from the quarry on Borstein (Lautertal) on the area.
It is planned to set eleven of the big natural stones every year, in total there are 33 natural stones that have to be placed.

Thomas Zieringer emphasizes that the
monument's circle and the star in the center are built quickly. The plant itself is done quite early, with the gradual completion of the outer edge through the stones, the initiator wants to achieve a gentle completion of the monument site. A long-term construction site is not expected. The Friedensmal (monument) shows the Tree of Life, a Jewish-Christian symbol that represents the way to reconciliation and peace. For the association, the project is a sign of reconciliation between people, it stands for a culture of freedom and a different way of dealing with the past.

"Symbol for our nation"

The installation reflects the spiritual engagement with history as an integrative concept with peace as the core message. "This will make it a positive and identity-forming symbol for our country," says Zieringer, who defines the project as a
"Peace Memorial for Germany".

In addition, the monument also refers to the local history without specifically addressing it: below the site was formerly a subcamp of the concentration camp Natzweiler-Struthof (Alsace). Prisoners of the Nazis forced labor in the underground caves of the former Hochstädter marble mine.

For Zieringer an important facet of the monument project, which does not necessarily refer to the past, but as a symbolic unity also includes present and future. "Peace is always an inner attitude", the site thus the visual mediation of a higher truth.

The almost eleven-year development phase - the association was founded in 2001 - is, in retrospect, a very substantial decade for Thomas Zieringer, which was absolutely necessary for conveying the conceptual superstructure to the public. "Such things just need time." With the completion of the site, the intellectual debate about it should begin. "The real work is starting now." tr

© Bergsträßer Anzeiger  -  This is a translation of the original article published in the Bergsträßer Anzeiger on January 4, 2010.

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