I'm a/an . I live/have lived .
archive educator
I was startled by a loud rumbling on the flat roof of the reading room. I initially continued working because I assumed the noise was caused by construction work being carried out on the roof.
I was sitting with my boss in his office on the fourth floor that looked directly onto the archive.
visual artist
The sunny, fresh spring day on the balcony with a clear, peaceful view to the south and the Severin’s Quarter (scene of the accident). A blue sky, similar to the sky on the 11th September 2001.
Yes, I remember well! I was on the ‘last bus’ that drove past the archive coming from the cathedral and heading towards Chlodwigplatz.
I was working as a production assistant at Deutschlandfunk (German National Radio). My boss called out from the next room that a house in Cologne had collapsed and we immediately tried to find out where the house was, the approximate address was already published on the Kölner Stadtanzeiger website. Just by chance a colleague had been there a week earlier and he immediately phoned the director to ask whether it was the archive.
I was at the funeral of the father of friends of mine and a well-known Cologne Architect. I was on my bike on Aachener Strasse, on the way from the Melaten Cemetery to the wake, when my phone rang.
I was sitting in the community library and heard some boys talking about the collapse of the archive, which had just happened (on the same day).
I was on the phone to a colleague in Leipzig who asked what was going on in Cologne – he could hear the sirens in the background.
I work close-by and heard a lot of fire engines and police around lunchtime, I saw a massive cloud of smoke and lots of helicopters.
Yes, I was in Düsseldorf and heard about it on the radio – I was paralysed and terrified that more people may have been killed!
I was in Berlin and read about the collapse on a live ticker on the FAZ (newspaper) website. I immediately reached for my phone and tried to get in touch with my contacts in Cologne.
kiosk owner
I was in Cape Town and a friend in Munich sent me a text message about the collapse.
a dance and theatre actor
On the 3rd of March 2009 I had Tango training with a dance partner and immediately after the collapse I was on my bike heading straight towards the accident site.
IT specialist
After work I passed nearby the accident site on a tram. You could already see the first crane from there.
The half ripped-open house with the young man on the second storey who was making a phone call in his living room right next to the gaping hole.
trade fair and event constructor
The blue cupboard in the half-collapsed house that belonged to a friend of mine who first heard about the accident on television while on holiday in Australia.
customer advisor
I was confronted by it because my mother helped out and told me how much still needs to be done and how chaotic it is.
In particular my last visit there not long before [the collapse]: a tour through the archive with Eberhard Illner who knew the inventory like no other.
I helped with the recovery of buried archival documents. I showered the documents in the schoolyard of the neighbouring Friedrich Wilhelm High School, packed them in plastic wrap, wrote down any information still discernable about their origins and then put the fragile things in crates. They were collected every evening by the company Reisswolf and transported for shock freezing.
It was a huge issue at my school. We were transferred to the polytechnic and for the first week after the collapse we didn’t have any classes.
Concrete mixers. Hundreds of concrete mixers in a long line backed all the way up to the street “Im Weidenbach”, waiting to fill the enormous hole.
The building was gone, completely gone, like in a war. It looked just like August Sander’s photographs from 1945.
The roof of the building – BLACK –.
The photograph of the collapse in the Kölner Stadtanzeiger. Complete chaos.
A scene of complete destruction…! It reminded me of the time around 1952/53 and 54 when there were still a lot of bomb sites …!
A scene of complete destruction…! It reminded me of the time around 1952/53 and 54 when there were still a lot of bomb sites …!
graphic designer
Many dramatic accounts of colleagues searching for buried people under the rubble.
I knew one of the young men a little and knew that he worked as an apprentice at the Zimmermann Bakery (central city) and was well liked there.
Pretty much immediately after the collapse I started thinking about who decides what or rather whose artistic estates are to be stored in an archive – and whose are not? And who is even in the position to leave behind an artistic estate?
artist and writer
After the death of my mother in London 10 years ago I brought the estates of the last generations of my family back to Germany – to that place that not all survivors of nationalist socialism could escape from.
A large chunk of family history that disappeared. Great pain and very much anger.
commercial clerk
Fear for the people buried under the rubble and the realisation that such a catastrophe can even happen in Germany, in Cologne.
civil engineer
As an engineer and tunnel builder the events that led to the collapse of the archive building and neighbouring houses was utterly incomprehensible to me. This is still the case today.
Tunnel construction has always been an issue in Cologne. In this case the City of Cologne has failed!
I find the progress or rather the (lack of) clarification utterly scandalous = typical of Cologne?
Not long before the carnival procession went past there.
My work, which often took me to the archive from 1991 onwards, has been made very difficult by the collapse.
I loved the archivists, even the smell of the archive. It was alluring, had something mysterious about it. At least for me.
photographer and author
Lots of memories of researching and working in the archive: creating a publication series and the book ‘Jazz in Cologne’ that was largely illustrated with photographs from the Historic Archive.
I often go to the site of the collapse. Activities by certain people are prohibited and impeded. For example, the erection of a memorial.
freelance editor
Since I’ve lived in Cologne, the collapse has been ever-present: the cordoned off area in Severin Street, requests for donations for the restoration of the archival material in order to save what can be saved. But much more so through stories told by friends and acquaintances here in Cologne – more or less second-hand memories.
I’m not from Cologne but when the archive collapsed I became a Colognian.
kiosk owner
The infrastructure has broken down. Severinstrasse has been an important, much frequented business street since Roman times.
structural engineer
We now live in the new houses here at Waidmarkt and are confronted by it every day.
The sight of the archive’s façade was part of my life although I’d never been inside.