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A monument (plural: memorials or memorials ) is in general usage according to the Duden :

  1. either a “larger sculptural representation erected in memory of a person or an event; a monument "(→ monument (commemoration) )
    - This includes exemplary statue , equestrian statue , monument , memorial, war memorial , memorial , Arch
  2. or a "preserved work of art that bears witness to an earlier culture" (→ monument (testimony) )
    - This includes, for example, works of art , cultural property , UNESCO World Heritage , cultural monument , architectural monument , ground monument

As a "testimony to the cultural development of mankind", it can be assigned a special value in the context of a culture of remembrance from an artistic, historical, political, technical, urban or landscape point of view. If there is an institutional public interest in its preservation , it can be placed under monument protection. In this sense, the former can also be declared in addition to the latter, i.e. an equestrian statue can be declared a protected architectural monument.

The natural monument can only be a monument in the sense described, "which bears witness to a previous culture" if it was originally a work of garden art created by humans or a planted tree with a surrounding area designed for the culture of remembrance, for example an imperial oak . In the context of garden art, for example, Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld dealt with the function and aesthetics of monuments.

Concept history

The word monument can be found for the first time in the writings of Martin Luther , where it has the meaning "reminder". Luther uses it as a translation for the Greek mnemosynon and the Latin monumentum (Latin monēre = “to remind”). The term became commonplace without a generally applicable definition and, in extreme cases, could designate any object that arouses a more general interest. Until the 19th century, the term was used synonymously with monument , while today the latter is primarily used to denote monuments of particular size (the adjective monumental today primarily denotes enormous and impressive objects). Even in today's linguistic usage, the definition can vary depending on the subject area and perspective. For example, while in art history works created for the purpose of remembrance are referred to as monuments, monument protection uses a completely different concept of monument.

Definition of terms

In the German-speaking area there is no uniform and binding definition of monument. The heterogeneity of the term is always emphasized in the literature. The humanities and art historical foundations of the concept of monument are extremely diverse and disparate . Names like Georg Dehio , Alois Riegl , Max Dvorak , Tilmann Breuer , Georg Mörsch , Willibald Sauerländer , Wilfried Lipp and others stand for this.

Since the early 19th century, the term monument has been divided into a monument in the narrower sense and a monument in the broader sense . The conversation lexicon or encyclopaedic handbook for educated classes from 1816 established this differentiation, which was handed down through Alois Riegl into today's scientific literature. A monument in the broader sense is an object of cultural historical significance and a monument in the narrower sense is a memorial erected for a person or event. In the words of Gustav Droysen, this is a distinction between monuments from time and for time. At the same time, this distinction shows how we deal with the past (monument in the broader sense) and what conclusions can be drawn from it for the future in the sense of the culture of remembrance (monument in the narrower sense).

Memorial of the Battle of Laupen on the Bramberg in the Bernese community of Neuenegg

The Brockhaus Encyclopedia describes a monument “in the narrower sense, a work of architecture or sculpture built to commemorate certain people or events.” More precisely, the “Lexicon of Art” on the monument in the narrower sense “each consciously with the intention of preserving the Architectural or plastic work built in memory of people or events. The monuments mostly propagate the ruling ideas and leading personalities of the respective historical formation in their individual periods and therefore develop an active socio-political effectiveness. "

Monuments are the expression of a zeitgeist, they “bring our heritage to mind, confront us with a continuing past that - persistently, mercilessly, sometimes also forgiving - protrudes into our present”. Until the democratization of Germany they are to be understood as a link between the ruling class and the bourgeoisie. The people were taught predominant ideals and the "upper classes" saw themselves bound by monuments to "duty of care". Only the democratization after 1945 - with the exception of the time of the Weimar Republic, in which hardly any monuments were built - and the associated transfer of power to the people, brought the ruling class and the people together and dissolved this connection of a "duty of care".

A memorial is a monument and should, in the sense of the Latin monere (= remember), remember a person, a thing or a historical event , in short: commemorate. In addition, he is assigned the function of educating and educating young people. This is roughly what August Boeckh meant when he translated the ancient topos “mortui viventes obligant” for the national monument on Berlin's Kreuzberg as “The fallen for memory, the living for recognition, the future generations for emulation”. This writing was found on numerous monuments after 1819. To commemorate and educate, it is necessary that the monument is publicly accessible - spatially but also can be experienced in terms of content - and that it is sustainable. The former can be achieved in two ways; via an installation in public space or reception via the civil public in other ways. The latter through its workmanship or direct transition of the content into the collective or cultural memory.

Alois Riegl describes in his work The modern monument cult - its essence and its origin the monument as

“A work by human hands, erected for the specific purpose of keeping individual human deeds or destinies (or complexes of several such) always present and alive in the consciousness of the following generations. It can either be an art monument or a written memorial, depending on whether the event to be perpetuated is brought to the attention of the beholder with the mere means of expression of the visual arts or with the aid of an inscription [...]. "

Helmut Scharf draws attention to a special feature of the monument in his book Small Art History of the German Monument (1984). In it he writes:

“Monument exists as an object and as a name for it. As a linguistic symbol, a monument usually designates something concrete; it is seldom used metaphorically […]. Monument can be a language symbol for a unit of several monuments […] or only for a single one […], but in a broader sense it can also be used in almost all levels of being that can be thought and sensed. [...] What a monument is always depends on the importance attached to it by the prevailing or traditional consciousness of a specific historical and social situation. "

In principle, the definition of the term monument depends on the current historical framework. Aspects of the culture of remembrance and cultural memory are also linked to it, as well as questions about the concept of the public sphere and permanence (of the memorialized) as well as the shape and content of the memorial (work-like memorial). From an art-historical point of view, it is precisely the dichotomy of content and form that opens up the problem of the monument's “language ability”. It becomes clear that the language is an eminent part of a monument and is often represented by at least a plaque on “non-representational” or “architectural monuments”. The debate touches on the social mechanisms that are linked to commemoration. These are the acceptance of the memorial as an object, the conveyed content and the effect of this content.


  • Peter Bloch: From the end of the monument . In: Friedrich Piel, Jörg Traeger (ed.): Festschrift Wolfgang Braunfels . Wasmuth, Tübingen 1977, ISBN 3-8030-4003-5 , p. 25–30 (on the 65th birthday of Wolfgang Braunfels ).
  • Helmut Häusle: The monument as a guarantee of fame. A study of a motif in Latin inscriptions. Munich 1980 (= Zetemata. Volume 75); see. on this: Gerhard Pfohl : Review in: Anzeiger für die Altertumswwissenschaft. Volume 37, 1984, Col. 60-62.
  • Wilfried Lipp (Ed.): Monument - Values ​​- Society. On the plurality of the concept of monument . Campus, Frankfurt am Main / New York, NY 1993, ISBN 3-593-34883-7 .
  • Hans-Ernst Mittig : The monument . In: Werner Busch, Peter Schmoock (Ed.): Art. The history of their function . Weinheim u. a. 1987, p. 457-489 .
  • Felix Reuße: The monument at the limit of its language ability (=  language and history . Volume 23 ). Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1995, ISBN 3-608-91724-1 (also dissertation at the University of Heidelberg 1993).
  • Corinna Tomberger: The counter monument . Avant-garde art, history politics and gender in the West German culture of remembrance . transcript, Bielefeld 2007, ISBN 978-3-89942-774-5 (also dissertation at the University of Oldenburg 2006).
  • Eduard Trier: The memorial is dead, long live the memorial! Presentation of some monuments from the 80s . In: Jutta Schuchard (Ed.): Transience and Monument. Contributions to Sepulchral Culture . Bouvier, Bonn 1985, ISBN 3-416-01933-4 , pp. 165-168 .
  • Georg Kreis : A time sign for eternity. 300 years of Swiss monument topography . Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2008, ISBN 978-3-03823-417-3 .

Web links

Commons : Monument  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Monument  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Monument, that. In: Duden . Retrieved October 3, 2012.
  2. ^ A b Lexicon of Art: Architecture, fine arts, applied arts, industrial design, art theory. Volume 2: Cin-Gree. 2. unchangeable Ed. Leipzig: Seemann, 2004, p. 121.
  3. ^ Christian Cay Lorenz Hirschfeld: Theory of garden art . tape 3 . Leipzig, S. 126-170 .
  4. ^ Rolf Selbmann: Poet monuments in Germany . Stuttgart 1988, p. 1 .
  5. Examples:
    Helmut Scharf: Small art history of the German monument . Knowledge Buchges., Darmstadt 1984, p. 5 . Biljana Menkovic:
    Political culture of remembrance . Monuments: the visualization of political power in public space . Vienna 1998, p.
     10 . Hans-Georg Stavginski: The Holocaust Memorial: the dispute over the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” in Berlin (1988–1999) . Schöningh, Paderborn [a. a.] 2002, p.
     132 .
  6. Christoph Heinrich: Strategies of remembering: the changed concept of monument in the art of the eighties . Schreiber ,, Munich 1993. Reinhard Alings: Monument and Nation: the image of the nation state in the medium monument - on the relationship between nation and state in the German Empire 1871-1918 . In: Contributions to the history of communication . tape
     4 . de Gruyter, Berlin [a. a.] 1996, p. 13 f .
  7. Scharf 1984, p. 8; Alings 1996, p. 13 f.
  8. Stavginski 2002, p. 132.
  9. ^ Brockhaus encyclopedia. Volume 4: Chod-Dol. 17th ed. Wiesbaden, p. 418 f.
  10. Ulrich Schlie: The nation remembers: the monuments of the Germans (=  Beck'sche series . Volume 1469 ). Beck, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-406-47609-0 , p. 8 .
  11. Thomas Kellein : From motherhood to fatherhood. A monument renaissance in Münster. Bull market for monument efforts . In: Exhibition catalog Münster: Sculpture Projects in Münster 1987. Exhibition from June 14th to October 4th 1987 . Cologne 1987, p. 299-308 (here p. 299).
  12. Ursula Uber: Cityscape design through free sculptures: Paradigma Münster (Westf.) . Münster (Westphalia) 1976, p. 13 (Univ., Diss.).
  13. Germany, together with parts of the neighboring countries as far as Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Copenhagen, Krakow, Lemberg, Ofgen-Pesth, Venice, Milan . Karl Baedeker, 1861, p. 28 ( ). Kathrin Chod: National monument on the Kreuzberg . In: Hans-Jürgen Mende , Kurt Wernicke (Hrsg.): Berliner Bezirkslexikon, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg . Luisenstadt educational association . Haude and Spener / Edition Luisenstadt, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-89542-122-7 ( - as of October 7, 2009). ( Memento of the original from March 11, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) 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.

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  14. Alois Riegl: Collected essays. New edition. Edition logos. Berlin: Mann, 1995, p. 144.
  15. Scharf 1984, p. 5
  16. Menkovic 1998, p. 10.
  17. B. Menkovic speaks of a “generalizing symbolism” as one of three main features - in addition to durability and publicity - of the monument. In doing so, she seems to value form and content as a unit. (Menkovic 1998, p. 10).
  18. Felix Reuße: The monument at the limit of its language ability. Language and history . tape 23 . Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1995.