Enemy Action / Die Ruinen Sind Intakt

24 images Created 18 Dec 2018

The only German word my mother remembers from her childhood is 'trümmer' – debris. Hamburg was rebuilt after the war but many of the fossil-like high bunkers and flak towers remain. Their concrete walls bear the imprint of the wooden forms that moulded them, just as they now impress the city with a physical memory of its past.

These structures can also be compared to funerary sites – the cemetery remembers and so does the city; tower blocks and bunkers are its gravestones, its cenotaphs. Coming from the Greek 'kenotáphion', cenotaph means 'empty grave'; victims of heavy bombing may have no other.

My family left Germany in 1947 and I grew up on the outskirts of London – itself a wounded, palimpsestic city of concrete scar tissue and buildings that were no longer there. To bind London and Hamburg together is the pressing together of wounds. The concrete protrusions of one come to rest in the open space of the other, but neither should be considered empty: these gaps in Victorian terraces and hollow German bunkers all contain narratives of loss.
View: 100 | All