Location: Hanover
Competition: 1. Prize 2011
Client: Region Hanover
Construction Period: 2013–2014
Work Phases: 2–9
Gross Floor Area: 1.700 m²
Landscape Architect: chora blau GbR
Exhibition Design: Ikon Ausstellungen

Jewish Memorial Ahlem

The historic site

The Isrealite Educational Institution in Ahlem was founded in 1893 for the education of young Jews in landscaping and other practical professions. After the handover of power to the National Socialists in January 1933, the Institution was used to prepare Jews for their emigration. From December 1941, the Gestapo (Secret State Police) used the site as a collecting point for Jews to be deported to the extermination camps in Eastern Europe. In October 1943, the Gestapo headquarter in Hanover repurposed the principal’s house as an outpost and set up an additional prison later. In March 1945, they commanded the murder of numerous detainees on the premises. After their liberation, Jewish survivors realized a kibbutz in Ahlem; the last survivors emigrated to Palestine in 1948.

The new concept

The new comprehensive concept of the memorial unites the central areas of the site and makes the turbulent history perceivable through the visual transposition of the memorial. Central aspect of the concept is its trinity: the principal’s house, the new entrance building and the garden.

The principal’s house, built in 1905, was reconstructed in accordance to guidelines for historical monuments. On all levels, the house was designed for an exhibition space, also featuring class and seminar rooms.

An entrance space was created on the former floor plan of the boy’s house. It consists of a plateau-like forecourt formulating the entrance to the site. Visual axes and entrances were developed in the garden and the entrance hall leading to the exhibition space in the former principal’s house. Glass pillars seem to carry the roof and transfer daylight into the space underneath.

Within the western area of the site, a garden was created commemorating to the former school garden and reviving the place for visitors. The perception of space in the garden is contrasting with the small cabinets in the principal’s house. An arcade in the western area of the garden displays the names of the victims. It offers the possibility to commemorate the dead in peace and quiet.

All three areas are connected by a new central path setting up a relation. The spatial composition compresses the complex levels and layers into one complete ensemble.