In the garden colony they had a garden shed, the leaflets were printed there (...) the bulletins were distributed in the war plants (...) addressing the slave laborers, some of which helped with the translation, (...) she had always crisscrossed through the city, with manuscripts by Harnack, Schumacher, Kuckhoff, (...) and at night she was one of the bill posters, shooing away, who painted letters on the walls and on the fences. Peter Weiss, The Aesthetics of Resistance, Volume 3, 1981

Photo: Emma Haugh

8. October, 14–17 h
... In the Garden Colony

Performance and on-site visit with Hans Coppi Jr, The Association of Persecutees of the Nazi Regime/Federation of Antifascists (VVN-BdA), Naomi Hennig und Lerato Shadi in the framework of the HAU festival Die Ästhetik des Widerstands. Peter Weiss 100. Conversation in German with whispered translations in English.

Meeting Point 14 h:
Schwerbelastungskörper, General-Pape-Straße 34a

As one of the many locations of Aesthetics of Resistance the Berliner garden summerhouse served as a hiding place and conspirative meeting point of illegal resistance activities against the NS-Regime. Undisciplinary Learning links the historic traces of the garden colony—the self-sufficiency of workers and the unemployed, anti-fascist resistance, and German colonialism—with the critical knowledge production of the present:

In this site-specific program, the historic complexity of the commuter belt around the Südkreuz station is interrogated along architectonic figurations of power, oppression, and resistance. Places that make shared memories visible stand at the center of commemorative political and artistic discussions, ranging from everyday struggles to survive and to recount political and artistic insurgencies. The paradoxical proximity of architecture in which the nation violently monumentalizes and inscribes itself in the memory of the city and the semi-permanent garden colony constructions is striking. In the urban garden colonies—which arose around the same time as German colonial endeavors in Africa—the history and present of subsistence and the nuclear family, resistance and alternative conceptions of society, autonomy and Teutomania are equally present.

The beginning and the end of the tour convene at the Schwerbelastungskörper on General-Pape-Straße with Lerato Shadi’s processual performance Hema: Berlin, which lasts several hours. The architectural relic of the National Socialist regime—which marks the southern end of the urban axis of Hitler’s planned "Welthauptstadt Germania" [World Capital Germania] in an area now known as Tempelhof—remains mute on the question on the vital forces of French forced laborers who participated in building an architectural form meant to "measure" the soil of Berlin in 1941. In her performance, the South African artist Lerato Shadi embodies resistance tactics that intervene in dominant, one-dimensional historical narratives in order to represent both the absence and survival of unheard voices. She shifts the knowledge of figures of protest and oppression out of her body and into action with fragile and nonetheless enduring breath. 

In a site visit to concrete locations in the former Papestraße Garden colony, the artist Naomi Henning reconstructs forgotten stories entangled within the urban history of Berlin. Henning approaches the political and artistic effect/ work of Kurt Schumacher in dialogue with the historian and Hans Coppi Jr., who witnessed the time period (Coppi is the son of the Hans Coppi portrayed in The Aesthetics of Resistance and chairman of the VVN-BdA, a non-partisan anti-Fascist organization of persecutee relatives of the Nazi regime and opponents of Neo-Nazism and racism). The communist resistance fighter belonged to a network of over 150 participants of different Berlin friends and resistance fighters, among them his wife, the graphic designer Elisabeth Schumacher, and his friend the dancer and sculptor Oda Schottmüller. The group is better known under the name used by the Gestapo “Rote Kapelle (“Red Orchestra”), to which the third volume of the Aesthetics of Resistance refers to.

In the far reaches of the garden colony, on the location where the apartment and the self-timbered studio of the sculptor Kurt Schumacher once stood, the tour will commemorate their artistic works, lives, and death through selected texts, pictures and stories.

The tour will also visit today's memorial site Papestraße, the only historical site of the early NS-Terror in Berlin, in which traces of the year 1933 can be found. In the former SA-Prison hundreds of Nazi opponents were locked away and tortured.


In conclusion, the tour will lead us back to Lerato Shadi’s performance at the Schwerbelastungskörper.