Summary Cologne Archive's collapse III (based on Archivalia)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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In general
Prof. Georg Quander (Head of the Squad for Culture and Art of the City of Cologne) qualifies the situation at the scene as unclear and catastrophic. Michael Knocke, director of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library, Weimar confirms that the collapse of the Cologne Historical Archive’s building is more fatal than the fire at the library in 2004. He refers to the unique documents destroyed in Cologne.
The atmosphere at the scene is described as „gently optimistic“.

Rescue-Process (UPDATED)
Now up to 15-20% of archival inventory (total 30 kilometers). In any case not all the documents can be rescued. Restoration will take 20-30 years. Firefighters only save archival material in the process of rescuing persons (Notbergung). As long as Notbergung is processed, the recovery process of archival documents cannot be optimized. When the 2nd missed person (current depth of rescue work 5,5-6 m) is going to be found, the Cologne Archive will become coordinating institution of the rescue work. Soon the Cologne archive staff will change from a tiny office to a floor in the Deutzer Stadthaus (Willy-Brandt-Platz 2).
The Cologne archive staff as well as supporting institutions work in three shifts of 20 attendees. Mayor tasks are rescuing and sorting (broadly) the documents. Some of the documents are almost undamaged, others are completely corrupted. It depends on the concrete locality. The archvists arrange the documents by kind of damage: parchment or paper, wet or dry. Wet documents are boxed. They will be frozen for min. two years. Afterwards, freeze drying will start.
The two handwritings of the theologist and philosopher Albertus Magnus as well as four of five volumes of Chronik des Kölner Ratsherren Hermann von Weinsberg [Chronicle of the city of Cologne’s councilman Hermann von Weinsberg], published in 16th century, belong to the rescued archival material of special meaning. Furthermore the (shredded) files of Cologne housing office appeared. The Historical Archive’s head, Dr. Bettina Schmidt-Czaia, doubts the reconstructibility.

UPDATE 1 A summary of the today's press conference in Cologne (Press Service City of Cologne 10.03.2009 03:45 p.m. via Archivalia)
The recovery and sorting processes of archival material is supported by voluntary professionals. Up to now, 20,000 man hours are offered to the Cologne Historical Archive (CHA). In the meantime CHA staff moved in provisional rooms on the fourteenth of the Deutzer Stadthaus. Workstations are equipped with technical devices.
The files of the former Cologne lord mayors Max Adenauer and Ernst Schwering were discovered (et al). Partly microfilms were rescued. Whether the newspaper archive of Cologne newspapers is lost or not, is unclear at present. So far, no newspaper volumes have been found.

UPDATE 2 Further rescued archival material (Archivalia)
Dozens of medieval codices (in different conditions) and nearly all parchment deeds (from a mostly undamaged room in the basement) were rescued.
Furthermore the head of the Marburger Archivschule, Frank Bischoff, mentioned to newspaper Koelner Stadtanzeiger, that a Reichskammergerichtsakte from the 16th or 17th century was found. The file is in relative good condition.

Interim solution for a Historical Archive's building
In the meantime a storehouse in Cologne has been found. It seems to have proper facilities for housing a provisional Historical Archive. (Press Service city of Cologne 10.03.2009, 08:58 a.m.)

Pictures from the Rescue Work at the scene
"Die Archiv-Trümmer" [The archive rubble] ( via Archivalia)




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