Germany / Monument

Trümmerfrau memorial




The Trümmerfrau-Denkmal is a memorial dedicated to the Berlin women who were engaged in the clearing and reconstruction of Berlin after the destructions during the Second World War.

The Trümmerfrau-Denkmal (Rubble Woman Memorial) in the Hasenheide Park was erected between 1954 and 1955 by the German artist Katharina Szelinski-Singer. It was her first assignment after she finished art school and is one of the biggest works of her life. The statue is made of shell limestone and was originally named ‘Die Sitzende’ (‘The Sitting One’). Her tired look, the pile of bricks she is sitting on and a hammer in her hands symbolise the effort of the German women who were engaged in the clearing and reconstruction of German cities after the Second World War.

Initially, this activity was ordered by the occupational administrations both in the Allied and Soviet zones. Men also took part in these works, although their numbers were smaller due to war losses and captivity. The main task of the women was to clear the ruins and to separate bricks and other materials, so the latter could be used in the construction works later on. The non-usable stones were either crushed or stored in open areas in parks which later turned to ‘rubble mountains’. One of these ‘mountains’ turned into the Rixdorfer Höhe (Rixdorf Hill) in the Hasenheide Park, where the statue was later erected.

The memorial was opened on 30 April 1955 in the presence of the artist, her professor, West Berlin mayor Otto Suhr and 88 former Trümmerfrauen. The opening was a part of a large programme for erecting monuments to the Trümmerfrauen in various cities in both West and East Germany. This programme contributed to the later mythos of a Trümmerfrau as a part of distraction from the recent Nazi past, especially in the early years of West Germany.

After heavy vandalism, the statue was restored in 1986 and then relocated to its current location at the foot of the Rixdorfer Höhe near the Graefestraße.