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German Monument Protection Authority prevents erection of multicultural "Hörl Family" close to monument by Nazi artist

Rüsselsheim's urban space has seven "Family Get-together" sculpture groups, which have long since become models of identification and are known as "Hörl Families" in Rüsselsheim. On the occasion of the 2017 Hessentag, housing company Gewobau intended to have an eighth work of art, this time featuring figures in different colours, set up to complement the seven existing groups, and symbolising open-mindedness and cultural diversity. The group was to be positioned in the square outside the railway station, in the vicinity of automaker Opel's historic factory façade and a monument to Adam Opel. On the grounds that it was "non-tolerable", the Rüsselsheim Lower Monument Protection Authority rejected the application on 25 April 2017. The report stipulated, for instance, that new projects were "to pay due respect to the values epitomised by the historic cultural monument". The authority claimed vicinity protection.


Politically speaking, such reference to cultural heritage grounds is of a highly explosive nature in view of the fact that the larger-than-life Adam Open statue is a work by sculptor Emil Hub, who was a member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NASDAP). At the "Great German Art Exhibitions" organised by the Nazis, Hub presented Hitler busts that were also larger than life in size. This piece of information can easily be read up on the internet. Goebbels is also said to have collected works by Hub.


What the Monument Protection Authority seems to have missed is the fact that Ottmar Hörl's group of sculptures is also part of "Rüsselsheim's, i.e. Opel city's, historical and technological development". When in the early 1990s the first, then only monochrome, copies of Hörl's "Family Get-together" were set up in Rüsselsheim, they were created by Opel apprentices who wished to make a special statement. To this very day, the sculptures are regarded as a forward-looking, cosmopolitan piece of modern company and town history. The new "Hörl Family" created for the 2017 Hessentag is again based on a collaboration with Opel and Opel apprentices.


To Ottmar Hörl, "this rejection based on undefined vicinity protection seems arbitrary and hard to understand." Gewobau and Hörl intend to stick to the project.


Find out more about the "Family Get-together" sculptural project from 1992.



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in colloboration with KHBT London/Berlin, on the occasion of London Festival of Architecture
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