Memorial (commemoration)

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Monument to Wilhelm I in Porta Westfalica

A monument as a work of remembrance is also called a monument in the narrower sense . In common usage, according to Duden, it is a “larger three-dimensional representation built in memory of a person or an event; [a] monument. "


The conceptual history of the word monument goes back to Martin Luther , for whom it means “reminder”. The term is understood heterogeneously and must be distinguished from the monument in the broader sense , i.e. the monument as a testimony to past cultural history .



According to the above definition, monuments as a work of commemoration are larger plastic objects from art history and thus three-dimensional, usually artistically designed objects, created to commemorate a historical personality or a historical event. Monuments as memorials belong to the classic genres of architecture and sculpture, such as the pyramids of Giza , the tomb of Confucius or statues of rulers .

Such objects, consciously created as works of remembrance, can be classified as follows:

Since such a monument in the narrower sense can be a “preserved work of art that bears witness to a previous culture”, it can be officially classified as a cultural monument . However, its quality as a memorial does not depend on it. The term art monument was often used for such objects , for example in the series Die Bau- und Kunstdenkmäler von Westfalen, which began in 1893, or in 1934 in the Saxon law for the protection of art, cultural and natural monuments .

Cases of doubt

Bluestone monument under the quarry of Stonehenge -stones

Whether memorial is used synonymously with monument or has to be delimited is viewed differently.

According to the above definition, memorial stones and tombs are always to be accepted as memorials if they have been artistically processed. However, if the stones have only been provided with a simple inscription or an inscription plate has been attached, then they are, like a memorial plaque , a work of remembrance , but according to the above definition not a monument.

No monuments

No monuments in this sense are works of remembrance that are not "larger sculptural representations". This includes the memorial plaque , which is actually an information sign . A special form of such a memorial plaque is the stumbling stone embedded in the floor . Museums and memorial rooms that are monographically dedicated to an artist are not monuments in this sense . Other objects that are works of remembrance, but not monuments, can be found in the category: work (commemoration) .


While monuments can originally remember events in the context of an embassy, ​​they later become historical themselves. The historian Reinhart Koselleck wrote: “Every self-statement of a monument sets limits within which its reception is released. They cannot be expanded at will. Either the message of a memorial can be ritually repeated, or the memorial is - as far as possible - rededicated , otherwise overturned or forgotten. The sensual traces of memory that a memorial contains and the ways in which it is received diverge (...). The viewer's willingness to receive can remain politically - and religiously - charged or go out. (...) What remains, due to his self-statement, is the aesthetic quality of the monument. ”Sören Philipps concluded from this:“ With material remains of a purely aesthetic function, one is in history rather than in living memory. ”

See also


  • Reinhard Alings: Monument and Nation: the image of the nation state in the monument medium - 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, ISBN 3-11-014985-0 (At the same time dissertation at the FU Berlin 1994).
  • Erich and Hildegard Bulitta, Experience History - War Cemetery and Krieder Monument as an extracurricular learning location , Munich, 2014
  • Michael Diers (Ed.): Mo (nu) mente. Forms and functions of ephemeral monuments . Berlin 1993, p. 179-189 .
  • Thomas von der Dunk: The German monument. A story in bronze and stone from the High Middle Ages to the Baroque . Cologne 1999.
  • Beate Eckstein: On behalf of the public. Architectural and monument sculptures from the 1920s to 1950s . Hamburg 2005.
  • Roger Fornoff: Myths made of stone. National monuments as a medium for finding a collective identity in the 19th and 20th centuries . In: Jürgen Plöhn (Ed.): Sofia Perspectives on Germany and Europe . Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-8258-9498-3 , pp. 41-68 .
  • Brigitte Hausmann: Duel with repression? Monuments to the victims of National Socialism in the Federal Republic of Germany 1980 to 1990 . Munster 1997.
  • Ekkehard Mai , Gisela Schmirber (Ed.): Monument - Sign - Monument. Sculpture and public space today . Munich 1989.
  • Manfred Hettling, Jörg Echternkamp (ed.): Commemoration of the fallen in a global comparison. National tradition, political legitimation and individualization of memory , Munich 2013 ISBN 978-3-486-71627-6
  • Biljana Menkovic: Political culture of remembrance . Monuments: the visualization of political power in public space . Vienna 1998.
  • Hans-Ernst Mittig , Volker Plagemann (ed.): Monuments in the 19th century. Interpretation and Criticism. Studies of 19th Century Art . tape 20 . Munich 1972.
  • Helmut Scharf: Small art history of the German monument . Darmstadt 1984, ISBN 3-534-09548-0 .
  • Helmut Scharf: To the pride of the nation. German monuments of the 19th century . Dortmund 1983, ISBN 3-88379-375-2 .
  • Ulrich Schlie: The nation remembers: the monuments of the Germans. Beck series vol. 1469 . Beck, Munich 2002.
  • Peter Springer: Monuments of the avant-garde . In: Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch (1988): Rhetoric of steadfastness. Monument and plinth after the end of the traditional monument. Reprint from the Wallraf-Richartz-Jahrbuch XLVIII / XLIX . Cologne 1988, p. 365-408 .
  • Hans-Georg Stavginski: The Holocaust Memorial: the dispute over the “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” in Berlin (1988–1999) . Paderborn [u. a.]: Schöningh 2002.
  • 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 . Bonn 1985, p. 165-168 .
  • James E. Young (Ed.): Memorials of the Holocaust. Motifs, rituals and places of remembrance . Munich 1994.
  • James E. Young : Forms of Remembering. Holocaust memorials . Vienna 1997.

Web links

Commons : Monuments  - collection of images

Individual evidence

  1. a b Monument, the. In: Duden , accessed on October 3, 2012.
  2. Stefan Krankenhagen: Auschwitz depict: Aesthetic positions between Adorno, Spielberg and Walser. Contributions to the culture of history, Vol. 23 . Böhlau, Cologne [a. a.] 2001, p. 235 .
  3. For example, the possibility of the memorial on the proximity to a historic place to take (Angelika Gausmann, Iris Schäferjohann-Bursian: The Forgotten Memorial Josef Glahes - art as a means of confrontation with National Socialism in Bürener country (1949-1974). In : Westphalia: Hefte für Geschichte, Kunst und Volkskunde, 1993, No. 71. Münster, pp. 121–138, here p. 122).
  4. Sören Philipps: Hildesheimer Gedächtnisorte: a local study on collective memory from the imperial era until today. Weißensee Verlag, 2002, page 38