Station: [17] Installation: Destruction and Reconstruction, Lange Gasse 16

M: Peace, community, justice. Who wouldn't want to sit on such an inviting bench. Please feel free to take a seat!

F: It’s not terribly comfy, is it? Your back rubs up against the letters. But why on earth would anyone design a bench to be this uncomfortable?

M: To find the answer, we’re going to tell you the story behind the installation, which is called "Destruction and Reconstruction" and is part of the Tacheles Trail. It’s a story that links the past and the present. It’s a story of fleeing and arriving. It’s a story in numbers.

F: Germany has often welcomed people who’ve fled in the face of war or poverty. But Germany has also invited people from elsewhere to come here when the country needed workers. 

M: Between 1670 and 1720, between forty and fifty thousand Huguenots fled from France to Germany. They were religious refugees.

F: From 1870 onwards, hundreds of thousands of Polish workers arrived, many of whom settled in Germany.

M: After the Second World War, 14 million Germans had to leave the eastern territories. In 1959, those expelled in this way, plus immigrants, accounted for roughly 25 percent of the population.

F: During the economic miracle, the Federal Republic of Germany recruited a total of 2.6 million so called “guest workers”, many of whom settled down, including here in Niederstetten.

M: Between 1991 and 1999, more than half a million people arrived in Germany, having fled the war in the Balkans.

F: In 2015, around 890,000 mainly Syrian refugees applied for asylum in Germany. 

M: People seeking protection are still asking to be allowed in. Often in vain.

F: That’s the situation this uncomfortable bench is meant to remind us of. Because it’s not always easy to put the ideals of peace, community and justice into practice.

M: But the stop also reminds us of the destructive power of war. As you can see...

F: ...there’s a container set into the ground with some bomb fragments behind glass. They’re the remains of one of the destructive bombs dropped on Niederstetten during the US air raid on the 9th of April, 1945. 

M: In the 15th century, Niederstetten built a town wall to protect itself from the horrors of war. You’ve already seen some of the defensive towers – but not the White Horse Tower, the Schimmelturm, at Schimmelturmgasse 6.

Fotos: © Trüpschuch