UPDATE 1 Notes on the rescue process from a circular by the Society of German Archivists (VDA) (via Archivalia)
The rescue work continues and the tentative roof to shelter the material at the scene is being improved. Documents are permanently discovered, some of them are deeply damaged. Storage room, suitable for the material was found in a Cologne district. The storage room‘s climatic conditions comply with the requirements, so the archival material is now pretreated and sorted there. The clean and dry materials will be brought to other archive storages soon, which kindly offered this possibility. First, the closest archives will be used and later on the others in a wider area. The type of storage possibilities also is important according to the decision where to bring the material.
Since last Sunday, Archiv-AK (Archive task force) advises intensely professional the City Cologne on rescuing and processing the archival material. The Archiv-AK consists of the following persons:
Historisches Archiv Koeln [Historical Archive Cologne]
Dr. Bettina Schmidt-Czaia
Dr. Ulrich Fischer
Kulturdezernat Stadt Koeln [Cultural Department of the City of Cologne]
ARGE Stadtarchive NRW [Worgroup City Archives North Rhine-Westphalia]
Dr. Jens Metzdorf
Land Nordrhein-Westfalen [Federal State of North-Rhine Westphalia]
Dr. Johannes Kistenich
Landschaftsverband Rheinland [Society of Landscape Rhineland]
Dr. Arie Nabrings
Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe [Society of Landscape Westphalia-Lippe]
Dr. Marcus Stumpf
Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Wirtschaftsarchiv [Economy Archives of Rhein-Westfalia]/ VdA- Verband deutscher Archivarinnen und Archivare [Society of German Archivists]:
Dr. Ulrich S. Soénius
Fachhochschule Köln [University for Applied Sciences Cologne]
Prof. Dr. Robert Fuchs
Continually, news items are published on saved or destroyed inventories or certain documents. Appreciating the public interests, but these items are leading astray. Unfortunately, it has been stated several times, that the “memory of Cologne“ is totally destroyed, as well as the archive will be closed for several years. Both statements are absurd.
UPDATE 2 Ulrich Soénius, director of the Rheinisch-Westfälische Wirtschaftsarchiv [economy archives of Rhine-Westphalia] in an interview with WDR.de on March 11th 2009. (via Archivalia)
There are 300 archivists from Germany and from bordering countries, e.g. Switzerland, who offer support . In addition ca. 60 conservators asked to help. All of them asked to provide assitance during the next weeks. […] The restauration of the documents costs a lot of money. We talk about a figure in the hundreds of millions Euro, but a precise amount can only be figured out after rescue work is finished. The restauration of an ordinary file may cost between 15,000 and 20,000 Euro.
UPDATE 3 Parchment deeds transfered to the Historische Erzbistumsarchiv Koeln [Archbishopric Historical Archive of the city of Cologne]
Today the Historische Erzbistumsarchiv Koeln took over the recued parchment deeds of the CHA. The number cannot be specified precisly, but Dr. Ulrich Helbach, head of the Archvishophric Archive estimates the number at 30,000. (Archivalia March 12th 2009 17:37)
Rescue-process of the archival inventory
Unfortunately, there is no official statement on the Cologne archival material from the special meeting of the Cologne city council which was held yesterday. Hence, following information is based on http://twitter.com/DieMedienprofis & http://twitter.com/SamZidat (via Archivalia). 40% of the CHA inventory was rescued undamaged from the rearward building. 20% of the CHA inventory was rescued from the rubble. (?) Up to now, 27,000 m³ rubble were dumped in Porz (a district of Cologne).
Ratsprotokolle [council protocols] as well as a cupboard loaded with wax signets from the 14th and 15th century were recovered.
A huge number of documents had been on the fourth floor. These ones dissapeared in the rubble when the archive collapsed.
Meeting of the Kulturauschuss NRW [Landtag cultural commitee of the state of North-Rhine Westphalia] in the afternoon of March 11th 2009; Chair: Dr. Fritz Behrens (Minister of the interior NRW)
The Kulturstaatssekretär (permanent secretary for Culture) Hans-Heinrich Grosse-Brockhoff briefed the representatives about current action and nationwide support. Also the Landtag administration supports the Cologne Historical Archive (CHA).
- The department for information services assists the recovery and the restoration of the archival material.
- The Landtag administration offered to house a CHA staff member’s on-the-job training.
- The department for information services will call for donations and install an information desk on the event Nacht der Museen (night of the museums) in Dusseldorf on May 9th 2009. Visitors will get informed about the dimensions of the Cologne catastrophe and about aspects of the protection of cultural possessions.(press release Landtag NRW via Archivalia)
Selected news on the collapse (in English)
Spiegel Online asked Were Subway Builders Cautious Enough? on March 9th 2009: “Workers at Bilfinger Berger, the German company leading construction of this part of the underground line, have said internally that planners may have forgotten to take account of the particular impact that the weight of the books and the water were having on this problematic http://soil.It’s also possible that city administrators failed to take a recent report on structural damage at the city archive as seriously as it should have.”
Hildegard Stausberg asked in the article Assault on Cologne’s historical core (Welt Online – English News) on March 6th 2009: “Could it be that the collapse of the Cologne city archives building will mark a change in this mentality [which archives generally associated with something dried out and perhaps a little dull of] in Germany?” (via Archivalia)
Pictures from the Rescue Work at the scene
Salvaging Cologne’s Destroyed Historical Archive a picture series by Spiegel Online
(Picture above: “An archivist [Prof. Dr. Polley, Archivschule Marburg] looks at the debris of the collapsed building of Cologne’s city archive in a hall in Cologne, Germany, yesterday.” (photograph published on Times&Transsripts)