Schwarzatal, Schwarzburg Castle

Schwarzatal, Schwarzburg Castle

Castle as think-tank: A centre for democracy

“A dramatic location characterised by a chequered history that is both an enclave worthy of preservation and a place in search of a new uses. As an authentic site both for the history of German democracy and of National Socialist egomania, any renewal requires critical reconstruction. In short, a unique location that contains traces of many identities in Thuringia.”
Prof. Andreas Wolf, former member of the IBA Thüringen Advisory Board

In 1919 Friedrich Ebert signed Germany’s first democratic constitution in Schwarzburg. However, the years of the Weimar democracy were numbered and during the era of National Socialism that followed, the baroque castle was to be converted into an imperial guesthouse for the Führer. The building was gutted beyond recognition, the work undertaken by forced labourers housed in the valley below. Today all that remains are its ruins as a monument to the threat to the democratic foundations of society.

Numerous initiatives in the region have since come together to create a memorial to democracy at this unique location to mark the centenary of the Weimar Constitution. Here they can exchange views on democracy, social responsibility, tolerance and cosmopolitanism in our society.

The castle is to become a rural counterpart to the “House of Democracy” in Weimar. A section of the castle is to be partially reconstructed as a place for use by politics, initiatives and associations, residents and guests.

Model of the future Schwarzburg Castle. ©TeCTUM Hille – Kobelt Architekten PartGmbB.

Visualisation of the proposed conversion works. ©TeCTUM Hille – Kobelt Architekten PartGmbB.

Construction work in Schwarzburg Castle proceeded as planned: in autumn 2019, a mezzanine was inserted in the future gallery hall and in spring 2020 new windows were installed in the Hall of Ancestors and the gallery hall.

In 2021, construction work was completed and the Hall of Ancestors and the Gallery Hall were officially opened on July 15, 2021. In May 2022, the 'Denkort der Demokratie' (memorial to democracy) received an interactive information platform designed by the agency C4 Berlin. With the 'Digital Guestbook', visitors are now able to sign a social media wall in the completed Gallery Hall, exchange information about democracy projects and browse through the history of the castle.