Planning Freeze on the new Cologne City Archive Building

Planning Freeze on the new Cologne City Archive Building – the German Association of Archivists calls on all members to sign the on-line petition

Email from the Chief Executive of the German Association of Archivists:

" Dear Members of our Professional Association,

During the past few days the Board of the German Association of Archivists (VdA) has been dismayed and indignant on following the media coverage of the moratorium on the new Cologne City Archive building (see:,15187530,22401430.html ).

The profession cannot accept the current political decisions! We are urgently calling on all members of the German Association of Archivists to support by signing the on-line petition to repeal the planning freeze initiated by colleague and VdA member Thomas Wolf (Siegen).Please also draw the petition to the attention of colleagues as well as friends and acquaintances.

The on-line petition is here: .

Many thanks in advance for your support and best wishes from

Thilo Bauer
Chief Executive of the German Association of Archivists


From the petition website:

"It is scandalous that important politicians in the Cologne City Council have begun to disregard the meaning and consequences of the collapse. Latterly the rebuilding of the historical archives if the City of Cologne in its planned form has been called into question. Even the location has been questioned. Why should a new location be found? The location is ideal. One of the most valuable buildings in the city will be secured inside the green belt. There, there will even be the possibility of expansion. This possibility will not exist if the new archive is integrated into a building block, the reason why an expansion for the building in the Waidmarkt [where the old archive which collapsed was stuated] was also not possible. Why then must a new site be found?

With this debate, the City is sending a devastating message to everyone who has striven for and continues to endeavour for the restoration of the archives. Cologne’s image is already tarnished and now the next disgrace is threatening.

That which, scarcely two years ago – when the new building design was selected via competition – had been passionately justified, was now no longer respected: it was still reported in June 2011 that the new building was an important step to “make good” the damage, and Mayor Jürgen Roters said at that time: “the City of Cologne has set itself the goal of erecting the most secure and modern archive in Europe. We have put this requirement to the architects and I am confident that we will succeed.” Now, according to reports in the Cologne media, spokesmen for the City Council, who also sat on the competition jury, are pleading for “more objectivity” and want “to scrutinise the costly plans for a City Archive”.

This call for more “objectivity” is an insult to all those who soon after the disaster, either volunteered or through their work supported the initial effort to rescue the archive materials. It is a slap in the face to all those who, since then, mostly without charging, granted asylum to the Cologne archives and continue to do so, often to the limit of their capacity. Trust has been lost and can only be won back again through decisive action.

We now call on members of the City Council to recognise the importance of the restoration of the City Archive as a permanent public archive and to revoke the planning moratorium.

The often-cited Cologne “city memory”, the cultural heritage of European-wide significance, will still suffer for many years because of the disaster; the conservation and repair of the archive material will still take decades. It is still uncertain how this work can be financed. In this situation a retraction by the City Council would be devastating. The speedy completion of the new archives building – including the city art and museum library and the Rhine Picture Archive – is the absolute minimum requirement.


  • A new plan, a new concept and even a new location would first need to be financed, even if a slimmed-down solution could be found.
  • A new plan would very definitely mean that the prospective opening date of the end of 2017 could not be kept.
  • This is set against the additional costs of storing the 23 kilometres of archive material that is currently housed in 14 rescue archives. The contracts with the rescue archives expire at the end of 2016 at the latest, after which storage of the city archives, according to current estimates will cost up to six billion Euros a year.
  • Moreover, conservation of damaged archives can only take place when the materials are back in Cologne
  • Finally, the establishment of the historic archives of the City of Cologne as a contemporary public archive requires a space for not just scholarly use of the archive materials, but also events and activities in the field of history education, archives studies and for wider access to the city archives by all