Things fall apart...

...but they aren't supposed to in Germany.

Don't they engineer things over there with some degree of skill (as in: German engineering). It ain't Minneapolis, after all.

The archives building in Cologne just collapsed, total failure in six minutes.

The tragedy is what was in there:

"The private papers of the Nobel prize-winning novelist Heinrich Böll, one of Germany's most powerful postwar writers, have been lost under the rubble. They include the drafts of books, corrected manuscripts, letters and radio plays. The writer was born in Cologne and insisted before his death in 1985 that the papers be moved from Boston to his home town.
Lost, too, were manuscripts of essays and articles written by Karl Marx when he was editor of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne in the 19th century.

Letters written by the philosopher Hegel, lyrics and notes written by the composer Jacques Offenbach – who composed The Tales of Hoffmann – edicts issued by Napoleon and King Louis XIV, and the personal papers of Konrad Adenauer, West Germany's first Chancellor and former mayor of Cologne, were also lost.

If they are ever recovered, the documents will almost certainly be irretrievably damaged.

"We are talking here about 18 kilometres of extremely valuable archival material, of absolute importance to European culture," Eberhard Illner, the head of the city archives, said. "Now the memory of a European city has been destroyed. I can only hope, but cannot believe, that some of these fragile documents survived under tonnes of concrete and steel."

The archives included the minutes of all town council meetings held since 1376. Not a single session had been missed, making the collection a remarkable resource for legal historians.

The earliest document stored in the building dated back to 922, and there were hundreds of thousands of documents spread over six floors, some of them written on thin parchment. A total of 780 complete private collections and half a million photographs were being stored."

The Böll and Adenauer seem especially terrible, since those collections had no equal anywhere else. And so much of this stuff survived the WWII destruction of Cologne too. Really tragic.

And not a small amount of supidity involved either:

"When the building was constructed, a small nuclear-bomb proof chamber was included in the cellar to protect the most precious pieces. But in recent years, the chamber has been used only to store cleaning material.

There was even less warning of the collapse of the building than would have been given during a nuclear attack. Workers on the rooftop heard a cracking noise and immediately alerted the 26 people using the archives at the time. Less than three minutes later later, the building was flat."


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