Das Denkmal der grauen Busse © Monument of the Grey Buses [Ravensburg 2006] [Berlin 2008] PDF Print E-mail
Moving Monuments © Hoheisel & Knitz

Installing the Monument of the Grey Buses in Weißenau at November, 6th 2006 - GEKRAT-Bus in Grafeneck 1940

New: Release of the second Book "The Grey Bus Monument" (with English Parts) Book-Release on 26th July 2012 - 7.00 p.m. at the Major Hall Ravensburg
Inauguration and unloading of the Monument at January 18th 2009



© Hoheisel&Knitz/Stadtarchiv Ravensburg
all pictures in printable resolution for public relations




„Where are you taking us?“


The so-called “Euthanasia-Action” (Aktion T 4) of the National Socialists claimed about 200,000 mentally ill and handicapped victims during World War II. They were considered “not worthy of living”. At least 90,000 patients died of hunger or inadequate nourishment, or were murdered with drugs in state-run sanatoriums. More than 70,000 men, women, and children were murdered in gas chambers during the secret operation “T4” in 1940/41. The mass murder was centrally organised at Tiergartenstraße 4 in Berlin (therefore the abbreviation “T4”). Grafeneck, Brandenburg, Bernburg, Hartheim (near Linz), Sonnenstein and Hadamar were the towns where the murders took place. The staff of these killing institutions later worked in concentration camps such as Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, and Belzec. There is hardly a region in Germany that was not effected by this organised mass murder. Mentally and physically handicapped people were the first victims of a systematic, well-organised annihilation plan directed against the ill and those regarded as “racially inferior” by the Nazi-regime. The “Monument of the Grey Buses” serves as a reminder of the transports of the patients to their deaths. The artists Horst Hoheisel and Andreas Knitz designed the monument for the Weißenau Psychiatric Centre near Ravensburg in 2006.
A bus based on the same model as the one that drove from the hospitals to the death camps in the years 1940 and 1941, in its original size and concrete form, commemorates the mass murder. “Where are you taking us?” – the question of one of the patients - is inscribed on the bus monument.

The Monument on the Move
One of the two buses created by the artists is stationery. The other bus moves from place to place. The first site is in Ravensburg and will later move, along the historic route passing several other places, to Grafeneck. Other locations not on the route to Grafeneck may also serve as sites for the memory (lieux de memoire) of these events – such as the patients’ hometowns or places where the organisation of the “Aktion T4” took place. The length of stay of the second bus at each particular site can be several months or years, depending on the result of negotiations and on the participation of the respective municipalities and institutions (the transport will ideally be financed by donations and public funds). It is crucial for the monument to stay on the move.

The Monument in Berlin
The “Monument of the Grey Buses” has now arrived on the site of the organisation, the special agency of the Third Reich at Tiergartenstraße 4, where the former bureaucratic headquarters were. Today, almost beyond coincidence and destiny, a bus stop stands exactly were the “T4” building was located, and is named Philharmonic Hall. This work of art is erected not only as a monument to the victims of “Euthanasia” but also to reflect the deed itself and the perpetrators themselves by using the grey buses, the perpetrators’ instruments, as a means for transporting memory – as vehicles of history. The transport of the 70 ton concrete bus is one of suppressed history. The changing positions play an important role. Similar to our memories, this sign of memory in the shape of a grey bus comes and goes; just like suppressed memories and taboo topics continue to emerge and disappear in everyday life. Commemoration is a process. It creates images, loses images, is in a permanent state of change, and in constant motion. Commemoration and suppression are central topics
in psychiatry, too. The bus follows the organisational route of the “Euthanasia” crime, marking the sites of the crimes, the sites of the victims and the sites of the perpetrators and then departs again.

Das Denkmal der grauen Busse © Moving Monuments ©

Hoheisel&Knitz (Ravensburg 2006) (Berlin 2008) (Brandenburg an der Havel 2009)


The Monument of the Grey Buses

For the victims of the »Euthanasia« - campaign in 1940/41
in the former Sanatorium Ravensburg-Weißenau (Psychiatric Clinic)

The monument was inaugurated on the memorial day for the victims of the Nazis, January, 27th 2007.
In the evening of January, 26th 2007 a Publication was released:
„Erinnern und Gedenken – Das Mahnmal Weißenau und die Erinnerungskultur in Ravensburg“

The second Bus cast in concrete will be placed at the first location in Ravensburg on January, 27th in the morning. 70 tons of heavy history will be moved on a platform by a crane. A few years later the monument will be moved again. We do not know where the next place will be. May be in the next town or once at the place of the “Euthanasia-Organisation T 4” in Berlin, Tiergartenstrasse 4.
It is close to the Philharmony and the Potsdamer Platz.
Today there is a bus stop.

Horst Hoheisel and Andreas Knitz - Ravensburg / Kassel Januar 2007

The Monument of the Grey Buses
More than 60 years after the transports from Weissenau across the Region to Grafeneck (at that stage the buses and
their destination were already well known by the people) a monument, which ought to recall the Death Trips, was realised
on the draft of Horst Hoheisel & Andreas Knitz: A walkable grey bus, sliced in segments, cast in concrete in full-scale,
permanently blocks the historic door, the former gate, through which the death buses of “Euthanasia”-T4-campaign left
the premises of the ancient sanatorium Weissenau.

The Moving Monument
A second similar grey monument-bus changes its location over the years. It appears in Ravensburg and later on moves along the historic route via several stations to Grafeneck, the death venue of the patients. The second grey bus will be located alongside
the route to Grafeneck in several places. The change of places will take months or years, according to the duration of negotiation
and organisation (the transport shall be financed with donations or public funds).

With this draft we do not only want to raise a monument for the victims of the “euthanasia”-murder, but also reflect
the deed and the perpetrators by using the grey buses, the tools of the perpetrators, as a “means of transport” of memory.
It is a matter of retrospection of an entire region, not only of Ravensburg and Weissenau.

Horst Hoheisel und Andreas Knitz - Ravensburg 2006 (Translation: Sinje Miebach)

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Endlich, Kunstpublizistin:
The Monument of the Grey Buses in the context of memorization-culture (Erinnerungskultur )

(„Erinnern und Gedenken – Das Mahnmal Weißenau und die Erinnerungskultur in Ravensburg“ S 75-78)

One can hardly imagine a bigger discrepancy to traditional forms of memorials and their representation of reverence,
dignity and pathos. Neither cast in bronze nor carved out of stone but put in shape computer-controlled from grey
ferro-concrete, the monument of the grey busses rises into the street space as an enigmatic debris.
From a distance it may appear brusque and repellent in its blocky shape. By approaching it opens up in
the middle towards an aisle across history.
The sculptural replica of a „Grey Bus“ used at that time now serves as remembrance of the victims of
the „euthanasia“-action, which were carried in these vehicles from the hospitals to the sites of murder.
The image of the bus at the same time provokes the question after the offenders and complices, the citizens
that watched or looked the other way when the busses passed their streets, and the conditions and
backgrounds of the mass murders. The historical Gate at the interface between the hospital and the
town – almost forgotten for decades – where the busses left Weissenau with the patients was chosen as location. (...)

Horst Hoheisel and Andreas Knitz created an artwork which holds a lot of potential for memory culture.
It introduces a distinctive theme to the context of the numerous monuments and benchmarks that remind
of the national socialist terror. On the visual basis of memorial art it can probably symbolize the
theme „euthanasia“ in a similar way like it is already the case in the area of research and procurement.
This form of the „Grey Bus“ does not result from the search for a preferably fancy and new artistic
version to express the individual creative script. It is a result of a censorious examination of the theme,
the „euthanasia“-murder program and its social , spacial and organizational basic conditions by the two artists.
(Translation: Sinje Miebach)