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Lost and Forgotten What the Speicherstadt was like before the war

12.04.2024 – 05.01.2025

Die Ruinen der Blöcke L und D. Foto: Archiv Speicherstadtmuseum
The ruins of blocks L and D. Photo: Archiv Speicherstadtmuseum

Unique historical photographs – some of which have never been shown to the public before – illustrate the wartime losses in the Speicherstadt, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2015. The reconstruction of the warehouse blocks by architect Werner Kallmorgen is also documented.

The Speicherstadt was repeatedly the target of air raids during the Second World War. Of a total of 17 warehouse blocks, three were considered total losses. A further twelve blocks were so badly damaged that by the end of the war only individual sections were still intact. Added to this was the destruction of the customs buildings that lined the customs canal.
The special exhibition documents these losses. As there are hardly any meaningful photos from the 1920s and 1930s, the exhibition mainly draws on photos from the construction period of the buildings during the German Empire. However, this should not be a problem, as the Speicherstadt was still in its original state at the beginning of the war.
During reconstruction, the partially destroyed blocks were reconstructed, while care was taken to ensure that the new buildings blended into the ensemble in terms of material and scale. This fact was explicitly acknowledged when the Speicherstadt was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. Nevertheless, when looking at the historical photos, there is no denying that the original character of the Speicherstadt has been irretrievably lost.