Skytower

>> Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 8 <<

The new headquarters building of the European Central Bank (ECB) has 45 floors above ground level and is 184 meters high, making it the eighth tallest building in Frankfurt as of 2020. The building on the right in my photo is the Frankfurt Adult Education Center (VHS), where I teach. The reddish building at the foot of the tower is the former main building of the Frankfurt wholesale produce market, a listed building from the 1920s which has been preserved, renovated and incorporated into the ECB complex.

Hardly anyone in Frankfurt knows the name “Skytower” for the new ECB building. I never knew it even though I have been teaching in the immediate vicinity for the past fifteen years. In fact, I just learned of it the other day from the website skylineatlas.de.

But I suspect they will be emphasizing the name “Skytower” more often in the future (instead of just calling it the European Central Bank), because the bank has already outgrown the tower and is considering building an additional one nearby. Also they are using masses of office space in two other high-rise buildings in Frankfurt, the Eurotower and the Japan Center. Apparently this is because the ECB keeps being given more and more responsibilities, particularly supervising all the banks in the nineteen countries that use the Euro as their currency.

ECB and VHS, 2013

This is what the new ECB building looked like in 2013, when construction was still underway. I took this photo from Paul-Arnsberg-Platz. Again, the five-story building on the right is the Frankfurt Adult Education Center (VHS).

For me as a teacher, it was convenient to have the ECB nearby, because after the building was opened several ECB employees joined my courses, particularly my English-language opera appreciation course Frankfurt OperaTalk (currently on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic).

ECB from the city center, 2015

Here is the ECB building off in the distance, as seen from the right bank of the Main River, near the city center. The church steeple (which looks taller than the ECB, but only because it is much closer) belongs to the Dreikönigskirche (Three Kings’ Church) in the Frankfurt district of Sachsenhausen.

Wholesale produce market, 2004

From 1928 to 2004, this was the site of the Großmarkthalle, Frankfurt’s wholesale produce market. The south side of the hall was served by several railway tracks, since most of the goods were delivered by train. I took this photo from across the river in 2004, shortly after the wholesale market had moved to a new location on the northern edge of Frankfurt.

Demolition of smaller structures, 2004

Although the main market building was preserved, several smaller structures were demolished starting in 2004 to make room for the new ECB Tower.

Memorial at the European Central Bank

During the Second World War, the Nazis mis-used the excellent railway infrastructure at the wholesale produce market for the deportation of Jews from Frankfurt and vicinity to the extermination camps in eastern Europe. There is now a memorial to the murdered Jews at the eastern edge of the ECB complex.

My photo just above (which I took in 2016 from the top floor of the nearby Globetrotter store) shows a white cement walkway which is part of the memorial. In this walkway, quotations from eye-witnesses to the deportation have been pressed into the cement.

Quotation from Lilo Günzler, 2009

“I wanted to walk along with them, but an SS-man at a barricade didn’t let any relatives through. But I could hear the loud, shrill orders that a uniformed man was yelling: ‘Everybody stand still. Face the train. In each freight car, 60 people get on board.’”

Ferdinand Levi, 1955

“On trucks, standing or sitting on our bundles, we were driven to an open railroad track near the East Harbor. We stood there for a long, long time, until finally a train came and we got in. No complaint could be heard, just here and there a quiet weeping, often with a prayer on the lips. Parents tenderly stroking their children, their loved ones, with superhuman strength.”

A secretary at the wholesale produce market, undated

“When I arrived at my office in the morning, there were closed freight cars standing on the tracks, further down, guarded by the Gestapo. All this was repeated several times. And I wasn’t the only one who knew what was happening, lots of people knew it.”

Alfons Paquet, 1941

Here a quotation is etched into the glass at the entrance to the basement of the market hall: “So in small groups, in processions and troops, people were brought to the wholesale produce market the whole day. The strange building, cordoned off, lay there in the drizzling rain. Past curious bystanders, the hopeless trek went along, people weighted down with their bundles, backpacks and suitcases. They had to line up at the edge of a square in front of a shed with a notice in big white letters PROTECT THE ANIMALS. The baggage was put down and apparently searched again, as in an open-air customs office, before they were taken inside the big building.”

Frieda and Ruth Sitzmann, 2006

“The Jewish people with yellow stars on their chests walked in rows of four or five, guarded, towards the wholesale produce market. The procession was about 50 meters long. There were families with children, who had their little suitcases or other small pieces of luggage with them. On all sides there were armed uniformed guards.”

Tily Cahn, 1942

“Since the people were not allowed to ride the tramway, they had to walk with their luggage to the wholesale product market. It was like running a gauntlet! And outdoors it was May and everything was in bloom: chestnut trees, lilacs, wisteria, apple trees — it hurt to see all this beauty.”

Lina Katz, 1961

“I walked along with the procession through the city to the wholesale produce market. Tried to use the tram, but I was thrown out because of my Jewish star. The procession went through the city in broad daylight. On the right and on the left, people stood in silence in deep rows and observed the procession.”

Bertold Adler, 2005

This quotation is in English: “In the morning an SS-Man — a German official from the party — came to our apartment and we packed our things. We were told what to take and what not to take. Then we had to go to the market hall, which is a long way off from where we lived. It was in the afternoon later.”

Bertha Oppenheimer, 1942

And now one more in German: “My dear children, I am very upset because I have already received the notice that I must leave Frankfurt the day after tomorrow. Unfortunately, my wish to see you again was not fulfilled. In any case, I want to say farewell to you and wish you everything good that a mother can wish her children. I am so nervous that I cannot write anything more.”

The memorial walkway

My photos in this post are from 2004, 2013, 2015 and 2016.
I revised the text in 2020.

Next: Frankfurt Skyline Countdown # 7.
See also: Stumbling blocks.

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