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No Rubik’s Cube

Munich faces up to its “brown past” with the new NS-Dokumentationszentrum (Documentation Centre for the History of National Socialism). 

Hitler’s death-day and the liberation of Munich – exactly 70 years after this historic date, the 950 m² place of learning and NS history will open its doors. The focus will lie on photos and films as well as written material, which document the consequences and repercussions of National Socialism in Munich. The documentation centre is an important project for Munich, but it is also controversial. 


Munich, City of Movement 

For one thing, not everyone likes to be reminded of the role the “City of Movement” played in Hitler’s ascent to power. For another, the architecture of the building on Königsplatz is not to everyone’s liking: a colossal, six-storey cube with a length, width and height of about 22 metres. It is located on Brienner Straße, the former site of the “Brown House”, the national NSDAP headquarters, and incidentally looks remarkably like the principal office of PricewaterhouseCoopers near the main station. 


A cube, lest we forget 

A number of people from the architectural scene have called for the building to be demolished immediately. The journal art – das Kunstmagazin accuses the building of being a “solidified rationality mask made up of distance, coldness and fear of empathy”. But it does not really matter how much or little emotion the building’s architecture expresses. The important question is: how will the people of Munich deal with what is inside the documentation centre? Because the real art of remembrance lies in the attention it receives. If it succeeds – in addition to the pleasures and culture that characterise Munich, the so-called northernmost city of Italy and one of Germany’s most prominent centres of art – something else will touch the communal Bavarian soul: a shadow of the past.