The Redesign

Since September 2016 the struber_gruber team has been working on the redesign of the Waldniel Memorial on behalf of the LVR.

The artistic concept of struber_gruber is based on incorporating many different actors. This participatory approach opens the social aspects of remembrance.

The guiding principle “Remembrance forms collectively, among people who are all alive today.” has been become reality by the interest to participate in the completion of the memorial in the last months. More the 700 people have already become involved. They became active as sponsors, in organising, or the production of the sphere sculptures.

Information on dates, on the history, and on the background for the design can be found below.


Voluntarily accepting the responsibility to care for someone is often called a sponsorship. In the context of the redesign of the Waldniel Memorial Site, sponsorship comprises actively taking part in the process of remembering— financial obligations deliberately play no role in this.


Die Patinnen und Paten sind Teil einer Gemeinschaft der Erinnerung. Sie erinnern an die Menschen, die während der NS-Zeit in der Provinzial- Heil und Pflegeanstalt Waldniel-Hostert starben. Von den Lebensgeschichten dieser Menschen ist wenig bekannt. Die Information beschränkt sich oft auf den Namen, das Geburts- und Sterbedatum sowie die Todesursache.

Schreibende Hand auf Buch

Sponsors have direct contact with this trace in that they write the names and biographical data in their own handwriting. The handwriting is then transferred to brass plates and mounted on a commemorative wall at the former cemetery. This process is significantly more elaborate than creating common inscriptions on grave stones as each name, each handwriting, is different. The memorial plaques do not correspond with the aesthetics of a serial manufacturing process. The different writing styles leave a personal trace of 548 people who are alive today and want to actively keep alive the memory of the crime.

Pouring the wax platelets

School classes of the Europaschule Schwalmtal and the Berufskollegs Viersen have contributed to the publicity work and the search for sponsors. Between May and July 2017 a group in the LVR Helen-Keller School produced the wax platelets on which the names of the deceased were written.

The Kunstgießerei Anft is casting bronze plaques from these, so that the many individual handwritings at the Waldniel Memorial remind of these people.

The writing and casting of the names

To enable exchange between the participants the writing of the names proceeded in union in public spaces. On the 19th of May 2017 387 people arrived where students of the LVR Krankenpflegeschule Viersen assisted. Further dates took place at the Parish St. Mariae Himmelfahrt Waldnieler Heath, in the LVR Helen-Keller-Schule in Essen, in the Maria-Lenssen Berufskolleg in Mönchengladbach, as well as the Kunsthaus Kannen in Münster.

Thus, even before the opening of the memorial, a space of remembrance became accessible, while speaking about the emerging memorial and it’s history to find and integrate the participants. Therefore, and because we want the deceased not only be represented by a number and the name of each person is actually remembered, we looked for sponsors that write these names in commemoration.


In the former cemetery area are three sphere-shaped sculptures made of a colorfully painted aluminum cast. These spheres are based on the objects that children at play like to make from modeling clay, but are greatly enlarged with diameters of up to 180 cm. The sculptures will be created in a collaborative process with artists from the Kunsthaus Kannen and students from Schwalmtal and the district of Viersen.

Spielende Kinderhände
Spielende Kinderhände

Forming the spheres – photos: Petra Oelck, corporate communications, Alexianer Münster GmbH.

Sphere preparation – photos: Toni Hammerschmidt

… Red, yellow and blue, they protrude from the terrain, the man-high clay balls. They still only exist on the draft sheets of the artist couple Katharina Struber and Klaus Gruber from Vienna. … Remodeling should start this June, when handicapped artists from the Kunsthaus Kannen together with the artist couple and students from Waldniel will go to work. An inclusive project that should help to keep the remembrance of the young victims from fading.”
This is how Carmen Echlmeyer Alexianer Zeitung announced

Between the 19th and 23rd of June the idea materialised. A Team of 23 people worked on the up to 180cm large plaster models that serve as the basis for the aluminium sculptures.
An intensive week in which the team collectively ground styrofoam, stirred plaster, applied it and shaped the surface of the spheres. All participants were aware of the seriousness and knowledge of the cruel history of murdering the sick during the nazi regime, still there was great pleasure in this unified activity to oppose that history with an enduring symbol.