Bunker 01 , 2005/06, Digital C-Print on Alu-Dibond, 100 x 127 cm
Johanna Ahlert / Silke Schmidt
A photo documentary about the Bunker Valentin in Bremen Farge from 2005 to 2006.
The Bunker Valentin is one of the largest architectural relics of National Socialism. It was planned as a bomb-proof Fordist factory for submarines, built in 1943-1945. To this day it stands - visible from afar - on the idyllic Weser beach.
There is still no documentation site on site, its history is only revealed to a few.
As photographers, the artists were interested in the "now" state of a historical site: "The medium of photography has made it easier for us to access this site and led us to a personal, intensive examination of history. How do we deal today with the traces, the signs, the remains from the past, how do we perceive them?"
The photos show interior and exterior shots of the building and some remains of the forced labour and concentration camps that were difficult to find in the surrounding landscape.
The work is more than an illustration of the actual state. It is an attempt to depict impressions and contradictory moods of this place: The fascination that emanates from this large-scale construction project, an icon of concrete construction, shaped the technical elites, but also the German foremen and the local population. This fascination survives National Socialism to this day.
The photos contrast the aesthetics of the smooth surfaces of the concrete as well as the gigantism of the bunker with the traces and overgrowth by plants. These traces refer to the transitoriness of this relic itself as well as of the invisible camps of National Socialism.
text: Prof. Dr. Inge Marszolek
Construction began in June 1943, half a year after the Battle of Stalingrad. The goal was it, for a Fordist submarine construction. The construction program had the highest priority, both in terms of manpower and raw material procurement.
On 27 March 1945, British Royal Air Force bombs smashed the bunker ceiling, marking the end of construction work. No submarine was built in the bunker.
The building ruin is 426 metres long, up to 97 metres wide and up to 33 metres high. Between 10,000 and 12,000 people worked on the construction site every day. Around the construction site there were various camps, including forced labour camps, a subcamp of Neuengamme concentration camp, and a work education camp of the Bremen Gestapo. The latter two in particular must be referred to as death camps. The prisoners became the most difficult concrete work, worked 12 - 14 hours a day despite malnutrition, cold etc..
After the war, the bunker disappeared from the memory of the city of Bremen.
Celebrated in the fifties by the local newspaper as the 8th wonder of the world, comparable to the pyramids, it was used from 1960 as a material depot for the German Navy.
Only in 1983 was a memorial inaugurated in the immediate vicinity of the Bundeswehrstacheldrahts in the presence of former French prisoners and forced laborers.
In spring 2010, a concept for a "Bunker Valentin Memorial" will finally be available.
Between the bunker Valentin and the history of the memorial sites Gestapokeller and Augustaschacht there is a connection. In 1944 the Osnabrück Gestapo was founded by the Gestapo Bremen and the Ohrbeck work education camp became a subcamp of the Farge work education camp, which was located near the Valentin bunker and its prisoners had to work on the bunker construction site.
text: Prof. Dr. Inge Marszolek
series, 16 pictures
color negative Kodak Portra 4 x 5 Inch, Linhof Techniker
100 cm x 127 cm (Digital C-Prints on Alu-Dibond, behind acrylic glass)
series 7 pictures, 6 indoor shots, 1 outdoor view north-west
70 cm x 90 cm (Digital C-Prints, framed)
Serie 16 pictures, 6 interior shots, 10 exterior views