Where to find ruins of war in Europe: the German hills of the dead and destruction (and rebirth)

During our last visit to Germany (Stuttgart, Baden Württemberg, Southern Germany) we learnt that also this city, as all major German cities, has an artificial hill made of debris removed from the bombed buildings.

Downtown Stuttgart on a cloudy day. The city is surrounded by hills. The high density of new buildings mixed with older ones is a war legacy

Downtown Stuttgart on a cloudy day. The city is surrounded by hills. The high density of new buildings mixed with older ones is a war legacy

Around Stuttgart lies a range of heights which give the city its beautiful look of an inhabited hollow surrounded by a crown of green hills.

One of those hills was chosen as the final resting place of Stuttgart’s postwar debris. The place’s name is Birkenkopf, and with its additional 120 ft of height due to piled rubble, has become the highest point in Stuttgart. Dirt has been added to allow tree growth.

The total amount of ruins piled on Birkenkopf is 15 million cubic meter.

Rubble piled up at the top of Birkenkopf.The plaque text reads: "This post-WWII mountain made of the rubble of the city stands as a memorial to the victims and as a warning to the living."

Rubble piled up at the top of Birkenkopf.
The plaque text reads: “This post-WWII mountain made of the rubble of the city stands as a memorial to the victims and as a warning to the living.”

War memory, postwar rebirth

Birkenkopf has a very important historical and cultural meaning.
Over 500,000 German civilians lost their lives during WWII bombings. Entire cities were razed. Stuttgart itself was half destroyed. That explains the need for a place where to move all the ruins.

But German debris hills also mean rebirth. No other country showed such a quick recovery as Germany after WWII, which turned a destroyed country into the third world economy in the span of two decades.

Debris mountains are there to remember the Germans–and the world–of war misery and of the past of Europe.

More in depth

By following this link you will find an article on a visit to Birkenkopf, with additional pictures.

Other rubble hills in Germany

The most famous debris hill is probably Teufelsberg (Devil’s Mountain) in Berlin, which twice as high and contains five times the amount of rubble than its Stuttgart’s counterpart. Here’s a report of a day visit to the site by the culture map.

The cross at Birkenkopf's top.

The cross at Birkenkopf’s top.


 

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