MARSTALL

ABOUT THE LOCATION

The festival route begins at its lowest and most sombre point, the former stables on Kegelplatz. Once the Grand Ducal Stables, the complex became the seat of the Gestapo under the National Socialists. Today, the prison cells in the basement are visible evidence of the building’s brutal and cruel history.

Directly opposite the Schloss Weimar (Weimar City Palace) and not far from the River Ilm, the history of the Marstall is testimony to the changes that have accompanied both great and terrible times over centuries past.

Farm buildings and horse stables have existed on the site since the 15th century, although the Marstall as we find it today was only constructed in 1873. The prestigious, three-winged and two-story neo-Renaissance building was erected according to plans from Carl Heinrich Ferdinand Streichhan and was used as a courtyard post office and courier station.

The Ministry of Justice and Education moved into the building in 1921 during the time of the Weimar Republic. The transformation into a place of horror in the heart of Weimar began in 1935 with the process of "synchronising the states with the Reich", which abolished the former Ministry of Justice. Until the end of the war, the site became the centre of operations for the regional Gestapo, which occupied the rooms of the east wing. Successively, a large administrative barracks with offices as well as a double-walled interrogation room were constructed in the courtyard, while the former coach house became a makeshift prison with twelve cells. The work of alteration and construction was largely carried out by concentration camp prisoners from nearby Buchenwald. From 1942, the Gestapo used the former riding hall as a screening centre for the transportation of Jews to extermination camps in occupied Poland. The April 1945 order for an "orderly withdrawal" prompted the dissolution of the headquarters as well as the massacre of the 149 remaining prisoners. These were marched to the Webicht, a small forest outside of Weimar, and shot.

Today, the files, depository and documents of the Weimar State Archives as well as the State Archives of Thuringia are housed in the main building, and a reading room enables the study of the city’s history in the very location where events took place.

The historical location with its fateful and moving history is also the subject of artistic interpretation. With the installation of “Zermahlene Geschichte” (Crushed History) in 2002 in the inner courtyard of the Marstall, fragments of the past have been used to create a place of remembrance, underlining and giving immediacy to the tragedy of past events.

PHOTOS

Use of the photos only with photo credits: © Christian Rothe, Genius Loci Weimar 2020