Memorial to the German Members of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War, Berlin-Friedrichshain

Official Rejection of the artistic annotation to the Monument

The intended artistic annotation to the memorial to fighters in Spain described here was submitted to the Berlin monument administration for the purpose of receiving official permission, as in accordance with monument conservation regulations.

 The initial positive vote from the lower monument administration of the district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg followed the vote from the state monument office, with whom the lower administration had to reach a joint decision, sending a rejection notice in August 2016 (see below).


According to their decision, Benno Hinkes’ concept is subject to a “substantial derogation” of the nature and appearance of the monument structure. The planned artistic commentary is “a foreign object” that breaks from the message and standard a monument purports.


The monument to the German members of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War in Volkspark Friedrichshain thus remains obscure and unintelligible to many visitors and passers-by.


The generous financial support provided by the “Kunst im Stadtraum” program (art projects in urban space) from the Berlin senate chancellery for the execution of an artist competition and the realization of artists’ plans has not reached its desired goal.

(gallery: click to enlarge)

The State Monument Council of Berlin

On 30 September 2016, the proposed project was, at the suggestion of the upper monument administration, presented to and discussed by the state monument council, an advisory board to senate members responsible for the protection of historical monuments. Professor Dolf-Böhnekämper of the Institute for City and Regional Planning at the TU Berlin - in the area of monument conservation - subsequently came to the conclusion that the state of Berlin should leave the monument untouched and without comment.

The state monument council provided the following recommendation:


An intended ‘public comment’ on the monument to the fighters in Spain in Volkspark Friedrichshain, created 1966-68 by Fritz Cremer (with a relief from Siegfried Krepp), has been presented to the state monument council. Historical background is to be communicated anew. Benno Hinkes submitted this design in the context of a competition - a design, which includes a park bench on which visitors are presented with an audio compilation through a Peitschenmast [old-fashioned German word for a street lamp on a curved mast].

The state monument council takes notice of the artist’s project. The council considers the submitted design to be interesting in its novel form of communication, but it is not considered to be satisfactory given its museologist’s approach. The council ascertains that the problem of the connection of commentary and communication of monuments to the zeitgeist has and will continue to arise. Thus we encourage the discussion of this general theme within a broader context in Friedrichshain, for example in a colloquium."


Source: Protocol ot the meeting of the State Monument Council of Berlin on  30 September 2016 accessed on 24 May 2017.