Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Not a water tank, not a gasometer. This is the SCHILLEROPER in Hamburg-Altona — a construction made from steel and corrugated metal, erected in 1892 as a residential circus building, the only circus with a ring that could be flooded for a water ballet.

In the 1920s, it became an opera house, a theater and varieté, Hans Albers had his first stage appearences here. During the Nazi era the building was used as a meeting place by the local SS as well as by communists, which led to brawls and shootings sometimes, and then, after the war … nothing really happened anymore.

Nobody had an idea what to do with this complex of buildings. In the 1970s, the buildings around the rotunda, the former foyer and artist’s dressing rooms were used as dwelling for Italian "guest workers", as they were called then, later it became a restaurant which had to be closed after a while because of illegal gambling. It became a music club, and when that failed …

This is how the building looks today. It cannot be torn down because the steel construction is under protection, but the whole complex is so down and out … I’m sure today’s owners (a community of heirs) is simply waiting till the whole building breaks down by itself.

This has always been the way the city of Hamburg uses to deal with its cultural treasures. We call this "Pfeffersackmentalität".