“The black hole of history”, Die Sueddeutsche focuses in the article Das Schwarze Loch der Geschichte (March 14, 2009) on different personal perspectives relating to the Cologne archive collapse (via Archivalia):
Ten days ago on a sunny day, Cologne sunk in darkest night: 65000 deeds, 26 shelf-kilometers files, 500000 photos, 780 bequests/personal paper collections – 1200 years old memory of the city was buried under rubble in a few seconds. (…)
Hans Bender is one of the 780 donors of his personal papers. For many years, he published the probably most important postwar literature-journal “Akzente”, besides prose, poetry and own works. 27000 documents of him, including letter exchanges with the whole postwar authors that were a comment to the federal republican literature, were stored in this archive. (…)
Dominik Haffner is one of the Marburg referenda says, while putting shredded pieces of a 17th century handwriting away, he does not believe that even 20% will be rescued. (…)
He and his colleagues are not to look that the material closely, because they are working against time: As soon as the wet material reaches air (out of the rubble), it must be brought to the freezing storage room within 14 hours, otherwise mildew will develop. (…)
Eberhard Illner, for all his interlocutors the archive is not visible anymore, but the former head of department can walk through it in his imagination. During the talk, he repeats that the papers of Hans Meyers were on the 3rd floor and Günter Wands’ papers on the 5th floor in the back. Illner (now archivist in Wuppertal) had worked in CHA for 22 years, he established four of the six stores, during the talk he starts crying several times. Since the beginning of 2008, he had noticed and reported defects and disruptions at the building without be taken serious. He now is called a denigrator of the “archival guild”, because he pointed out his information to the public after the collapse and is alleged to have broken his official discretion.
Koelner Stadtanzeiger reports on action force at the scene on March 20, 2009 (via Archivalia)
For the first time, since the collapse of the archive building in Cologne (CHA) on March 3rd, the rescue teams of the firefighter department, the volunteer firefighters and the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) will take a one day break on Sunday. The work will be continued on Monday at 7 a.m., said Daniel Leupold from the firefighter department. On today’s Saturday, 60 supporters – like all past days – will be working until the onset of dark around 7 p.m.
Strenuously, they pull files, deeds and other valuable subjects belonging to the CHA inventory out of the rubble. On Friday, the supporters found much material from the 20th century, under it comments on the German Empire Constitution (Deutsche Reichsverfassung) dated 1918. On Thursday, 14 truck loadings had been recovered. In the storage hall (Cologne outside district) where the loadings of rubble and material are brought to, dozens of supporters are searching for material that is in a restorable condition.
The action force at the collapsed building needs to work carefully to minimize the risk of injury which is very high, says Leupold. So far two men were hit by stones: One man of the THW had a concrete piece slid against his leg, he got outpatient treatment. A stone hit the shoulder of a firefighter but recovered quick and returned to work.