The New Patrons of Wurzen

Patrons: Wurzener Bündnis für Demokratie gegen Neonazismus 

Mediators: Ilina Koralova, Barbara Steiner

Artists: Via Lewandowsky, Helmut und Johanna Kandl, Michaela Melian, Judith Siegmund

Duration: 2011–suspended

Partner: Fondation de France, Neue Auftraggeber e.V., Kulturhistorischen Museum Wurzen, Stadt Wurzen


The monument to the dead soldiers of World War I in the old cemetery of Wurzen was erected in 1929–30 in memory of the more than seven hundred local citizens who were killed in action. Most recently it has become a meeting place for right-wing extremists, who have exploited the cenotaph’s symbolism for their own purposes. A civic organization named Wurzener Bündnis für Demokratie gegen Neonazismus has stepped up to counter this usurpation of the site. The members have approached the New Patrons’ Leipzig mediators, Barbara Steiner and Ilina Koralova, hoping to commission a work of art that will raise public awareness of the problem and symbolically reclaim the monument.

In 1930, Georg Book, the mayor of Wurzen, had indicated the intention behind the memorial when he expressed his hope that “no such sacrifice of human blood will ever be brought again.” The patrons, seeking to recapture this original spirit, have tasked the mediators with commissioning five artists to develop designs for a remodeled monument.

In November 2011, their proposals were presented in an exhibition in the municipal gallery in the city’s Old Town Hall. The citizens of Wurzen were invited to participate in a public debate over the culture of remembrance practiced at the site. Yet the project proved deeply divisive, with members of the public expressing both passionate support and vehement opposition. The controversy erupted when the mayor, the mediator, and the artists discussed the proposals with the public at city hall; the event ended in a shouting match. The parties involved in the project decided to shelve their plans to realize one of the proposals.