Window of heaven / mad star - Fenster des Himmels / Irrstern

The ERRSTERN warning notice in the park of the Bremen-Ost Clinic , 2010

Windows of heaven / Irrstern (proper spelling: Irrstern ) is a two-part memorial in the main house and park of the hospital Bremen-Ost in Bremen - Osterholz that the victims of the Nazi - Psychiatry recalls from 1934 to 1945 in Bremen. It was created in 2000 by the artist Marikke Heinz-Hoek on the site of what was then the Bremen-East Central Hospital , whose predecessor functioned as the Bremen mental hospital . The memorial consists of the video installation Windows of Heaven in the foyer of the main building and theMemorial plaque Irrstern , an oversized parking picture in the park-like outdoor area of the clinic.

The memorial is intended to remind people that in the time of National Socialism , mentally ill and mentally handicapped people also fell victim to National Socialism with the participation of the health administration, doctors and nursing staff , which was concealed in the Hanseatic city for decades. [1] [2]

Historical background

During the Nazi era , between 1938 and 1944, almost 1,000 male and female patients at the Bremer Nervenklinik, the predecessor of what is now the Bremen-Ost Clinic, were transferred to other institutions as part of what is known as " euthanasia ". The Bremen sanatorium and nursing home at that time served exclusively for the treatment and accommodation of “ mentally ill ” and “ nervous patients ”. Over 700 people fell victim to the “inhuman psychiatry and health policy under National Socialism[3] . Most of them were put in killing centers like Hadamarand Meseritz-Obrawalde were killed by doctors and nurses using gas, drugs or food deprivation, some also in the Bremen mental hospital. [1] [3] [4]

In addition, a total of 2,665 men and women from Bremen were forcibly sterilized in the Bremen mental hospital during the Nazi period . The "consequences of these interventions and the associated social discrimination " [3] continue to apply to the present day, according to today's clinic operator, the Bremer Klinikverbund Gesundheit Nord . [1] [3] [4]

In addition to the then Bremer Nervenklinik, the central hospital St.-Jürgen-Straße (today Klinikum Bremen-Mitte ), the Bremen health department and the health authority were "involved in the planned forced treatment and destruction of psychiatric patients" [2] , as from, among others a study published in 1997 by folklorist Gerda Engelbracht emerges. [2] [4]

The two-part memorial


The clinic for project culture ambulance belonging Hospital Museum at the former Central Hospital Bremen-Ost documented since 1995 in a permanent exhibition, the development of psychiatry in the Nazi era and performs additional events such as readings and lectures by. As a result, a group of relatives of former patients as well as employees from the health sector and interested citizens of Bremen formed, who made it their task to " keep the memory of the crimes of medicine in the Third Reich alive and to consolidate it with a memorial". [1] [2]

The initiative of the memorial group to create a memorial found support from the clinic, the Bremen Senate Department for Health and Culture and the Health Department. The clinic and the health senator jointly announced a competition with international participation, which was held in 1999 and to which the following artists were invited: Marikke Heinz-Hoek (Bremen), Rebecca Horn (Berlin), Via Lewandowsky (Berlin), Raoul Marek (Paris) , Katharina Sieverding (Düsseldorf), Stih & Schnock (Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock; Berlin), Yuji Takeoka (Düsseldorf / Bremen) and Timm Ulrichs(Muenster). The jury, made up of art experts from Germany and Switzerland, chaired by Katarina Vatsella, decided in favor of Marikke Heinz-Hoek's proposal, which was realized with financial support from the Bremer Stiftung Wohnliche Stadt . [1] [2] [5]

In their two-part design, Heinz-Hoek proposed to set up the board with the word “Irrstern” outdoors and to show the video installation inside the clinic or the hospital museum. [6] With the dichotomy, she wanted to refer to “the inside and the outside in psychiatry as well as in public consciousness [...]” and created “two autonomous, but related works”. [7] A lawn near the hospital museum in the clinic park was selected as the location for the image, while the video installation was ultimately located in the entrance hall of the main clinic building. [8th]

The memorial was officially inaugurated on May 30, 2000. The memorial group had already decided on May 30th as an annually recurring day of remembrance and thus referred to May 30th, 1940. On that day, 36 patients from the Bremen mental hospital were transferred to the former sanatorium and nursing home in Wehnen near Oldenburg (Oldb) , where most of them did not survive the Nazi era. [2] [3] [8]

Video installation Window of Heaven

The title of her video installation, Window of Heaven , was borrowed from Marikke Heinz-Hoek von Hölderlin . The "windows" are two flat screens mounted upright and side by side . The video installation is on a wall in the rear area of ​​the foyer in the main building of the clinic. ( Location ) It consists of two plasma screens on which video stills are shown in an endless loop . [1] [7] [9]

The video diptych shows hands and portraits of victims of euthanasia in an alternating, generally repeating “endless” order: [1] [7] [9]

  • On the right monitor, faces can be seen at a distance of a few seconds, alternating with one another and tinted “sky blue”. A total of 20 faces are shown, which are portraits of victims from the archive of the hospital museum. The beginning and the middle of the endless video are marked by a drawing of a rose. The victim portraits are “possible images” of the oversized, “empty photo frame” in the open-air site. [1] [7] [9]
  • The left “window” shows hands that have been taken in the negative process and clasped, which look as if they have been “placed in the lap”. The hands change their position once every four minutes, “by placing the inner hand in front of the outer one. They are inactive hands that never intervene, ”said the Bremen Weser-Kurier in a review. [1] [7] [9]

Reminder notice ERRSTERN

Warning notice ERRSTERN in the outdoor area of ​​the hospital

The memorial plaque Irrstern is located in the park area of the hospital, "the intersection between old and new hospital facility" [9] on a grassy area near the hospital museum and also the clinic project culture ambulance belonging Gallery in the park . ( Location ) The sculpture in the form of an oversized image consists of a light granite plate with a surrounding frame made of matt stainless steel . The reminder board is 3 meters wide and around 2 meters high. [1] [7] [9]

It is a kind of photo frame, according to the Weser-Kurier , which “everyone has in the apartment” and which serves as a “souvenir utensil”. The “photo frame” by Marikke Heinz-Hoek is, however, “empty” - on the granite slab there is only the word “Irrstern” written in capital letters , executed as a relief in stainless steel letters. [7] [9]

Heinz-Hoek also quotes Hölderlin with the term “Irrstern”; the “word picture” was taken from a poem by the poet. [1] [7] [9] This one, "widely visible word beyond the psychiatric area, gives the memorial its so skillfully irritating and bold character," judged the Weser courier . [7] [9]

Holderlin quotes

The artist Marikke Heinz-Hoek borrowed both the title of the video installation, Window of Heaven , and the word Irrstern on the warning board from the German poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843). He suffered from hypochondria and was considered insane by his contemporaries from around the age of 36 . In 1806/1807 he was forcibly treated for more than seven months in the Tübingen University Hospital and was finally discharged as "incurable". From then on he was under guardianship for the rest of his life and was taken in by a family in Tübingen, with whom he lived in a tower room for 36 years until his death.

The quote “Window of Heaven” can be found in the hymn-like designs by Holderlin; The second and third versions of his poem The Next Best begin with the verses:

"Open the windows of heaven
And let loose the night spirit
The sky-storming one, [...]"

- Friedrich Hölderlin : The next best , second and third version [10]

Hölderlin uses the word image “Irrstern” in an ode in his lyrical epistolary novel Hyperion :

"We feel like throwing ourselves into the night of the unknown, into the cold stranger of some other world, and, if it were possible, we would leave the sun's territory and rush beyond the mad-star's borders."

Friedrich Hölderlin: Hyperion, Hyperion an Bellarmin[11]


  • Gerda Engelbracht : The deadly shadow of psychiatry. The Bremer Nervenklinik 1933–1945 . Donat Verlag, Bremen 1997, ISBN 3-931737-18-7 .
  • Interview by Susanne Hinrichs with Marikke Heinz-Hoek: Irrstern or the obsession of being normal… In: Xzeit magazin . January / February 2000. Xzeit Edition Bremen, ISSN 1439-0655 , p. 22–24.
  • Achim Tischer (Ed.): Do we need a memorial? A project to commemorate psychiatry during National Socialism in Bremen . Edition Temmen, Bremen 2000, ISBN 3-86108-648-4 (collection of essays on the historical background and the history of the origin of the memorial).
  • Marikke Heinz-Hoek: Window of Heaven / Irrstern. A memorial for the victims of psychiatry 1934–1945. Grounds and foyer of the Bremen East Central Hospital, Züricher Straße 40 . Ed .: Hospital Museum . Hauschild, Bremen 2001, ISBN 3-89757-113-7 (documentation; with contributions by Helmut Haselbeck, Hans-Joachim Manske, Renate Puhvogel, Guido Boulboullé, Benno Schubiger, Katerina Vatsella, Friedrich Hölderlin).
  • Stefanie Endlich: “Remembrance needs a place”. Forms of remembrance in the authentic places . In: Kristina Hübener et al. (Hrsg.): Brandenburg sanatoriums and nursing homes in the Nazi era . be.bra.-Verlag, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-89809-301-8 , pp. 368, 370.
  • Achim Tischer: Relatives work of victims of psychiatry and health policy during National Socialism - a workshop report from the Bremen Hospital Museum . In: Stefanie Westermann et al. (Ed.): NS- "Euthanasia" and memory. Coming to terms with the past - forms of remembrance - perspectives of those affected (= medicine and National Socialism . Volume 3). Lit Verlag, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-643-10608-7, S. 133–142.
  • Gerda Engelbracht: Medical crimes against Bremen children and adolescents in the time of National Socialism . Mabuse-Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 2014, ISBN 978-3-86321-182-0 .
  • Gerda Engelbracht: Memory book for the victims of Nazi medical crimes in Bremen (= small writings of the Bremen State Archives . Issue 53). 1st edition. Edition Falkenberg, Bremen 2016, ISBN 978-3-95494-102-5 .


Commons : Warning plaque ERRSTERN - Collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h i j k Achim Tischer (Ed.): Do we need a memorial? A project to commemorate psychiatry during National Socialism in Bremen . Edition Temmen, Bremen 2000, ISBN 3-86108-648-4 .
  2. a b c d e f memorial commemorates mentally ill and disabled victims of National Socialism. In: Press office of the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen , May 30, 2000, accessed on November 19, 2016 (press release).
  3. a b c d e Forgotten victims: Memory of the victims of Nazi psychiatry and health policy in Bremen. In: Gesundheit Nord , May 27, 2011, accessed September 4, 2019 (press release).
  4. a b c Gerda Engelbracht : The deadly shadow of psychiatry. The Bremer Nervenklinik 1933–1945 . Donat Verlag, Bremen 1997, ISBN 3-931737-18-7 .
  5. ^ Katerina Vatsella: Art projects >> Competition for a memorial. (No longer available online.) In: Archived from the original on November 20, 2016 ; accessed on November 19, 2016 (homepage). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Vorlage:Webachiv/IABot/
  6. Margaretha Gries: “Irrstern” recalls those who are often forgotten . Memorial for the victims of Nazi psychiatry planned / drafts to be viewed in the House of Citizenship. In: Weser courier . November 2, 1999, p. 19.
  7. a b c d e f g h i Stefanie Beckröge: Remembering the “mad star” . Memorial for victims of psychiatry. In: Weser courier . June 24, 2000, p. 31 (review in the newspaper's features section).
  8. a b Karen Adamski: “Irrstern” is supposed to remember the victims . The memorial is inaugurated today. In: Weser courier . May 30, 2000, p. 10.
  9. a b c d e f g h i Helmut Haselbeck: Notes on the title illustration . Marikke Heinz-Hoek: "First Cut Is The Deepest". In: Social Psychiatric Information . 41st volume, 2011, edition 2.Psychiatrie Verlag, ISSN 0171-4538 , p. 2–3 ( digitized version ; PDF, 919 kB [accessed on November 20, 2016]). Digitized version ( memento from November 20, 2016 in the Internet Archive )
  10. Cf. Stuttgarter Hölderlin edition VI: Letters:
    Friedrich Hölderlin: The next best. Second version. In: Retrieved November 20, 2016 . Friedrich Hölderlin: The next best. Third version. In: Retrieved November 20, 2016 .
  11. ^ Friedrich Hölderlin: Hyperion to Bellarmine in the Gutenberg-DE project