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A former Nazi bunker that was build by forced labourers to shelter Germans during Allied air raids in Hamburg is being turned into a “design and lifestyle” hotel. The nhow Hamburg, as it will be known, is being deigned by the NH Hotel Group, which we gotta say design some pretty rad looking hotels, and is set to open in mid-2021 on top of the Bunker St. Pauli, one of thousands of air raid shelters that are scattered across Germany. Julianne Voss, a spokesperson for the Spanish hotel chain, said that they are aware of the history of the place as well the sensitivity of the situation and that they are hoping to “send a positive message to the city of Hamburg” through this development. The 136-room hotel will be part of a five-story tiered garden that will sit on top of the bunker. Sounds kind of lovely if you forget why and how the bunker was built.

Hamburg is home to the highest number of bunkers created during the WWII, today 650 still stand and Bunker St. Pauli is one of the biggest and most sturdy. After the war when discussions about destroying the bunker came up, it soon became clear that it would be impossible to destroy it. The amount of dynamite needed to bring this gigantic structure down would blow the residential area around it. Which makes you think, if you can’t get rid of it shouldn’t it be repurposed?

Before it was bought by the hotel chain, it was used as a television hub in the 1950s and even as a venue for live concerts and night clubs. This isn’t the first time a controversial historical site has attracted developers. The former Gestapo headquarters in Hamburg have been converted into luxury apartments in 2018. Yes, you read that right, you can now spend a few luxurious evenings in the same place that used to torture and murder people targeted by Nazis. This one didn’t go over well with the public. 

The main question is, at what point have you crossed the line between commemoration and erasure of history? That’s why these redevelopments are a tricky line to walk. But it seems in the case of this Hamburg hotel that they are trying to keep the history and significance of the place alive. In addition to the garden, which will be open to the public, they are creating an exhibition space outlining the history of the place that will not only include stories of the families the bunker sheltered, but they are also working on tracking down the people who were forced to build it and whose stories are still in the dark, in order to finally bring their stories to light as well.

Source: NY Times