New plans

Up until June 1949, the plans to construct a memorial site were on hold. Outside of commemorative events, the former execution site was still almost inaccessible for visitors. The only work performed there consisted of repairs and the installation of a stone console in the former location of the guillotine. The idea to mark the exact site of the executions presumably stemmed from Hans Bartling’s design from the first competition.

After the city was divided, however, Plötzensee had become an important site of remembrance in West Berlin. Thus, in the early summer of 1949, planning to build a memorial site was resumed under responsibility of the senator for social affairs’ Department for Victims of Political, Racial, and Religious Persecution.

Resumption of planning

On June 1, 1949, representatives of the social affairs section inspected the site with the architect Bruno Grimmek, who headed the design department in the construction and housing office at the time. He developed various proposals for further configuring the memorial site, and agreed to present more precise plans and an estimate of the resulting costs by the ambitious date of June 25.


During this first inspection, Bruno Grimmek proposed replacing the stone console in the former execution room with a ceremonial bowl inscribed with the number of people murdered in Plötzensee. This part of the design was not used, however, and the console was removed in the 1960s.

Bruno Grimmek’s suggestion of writing the names of those executed for political reasons on the walls of the execution site was soon rejected, due to the large number of victims. Ideas to make handwritten records of the names of those murdered in several books, categorized by nation, were not successful because neither the precise number of victims nor their countries of origin could be established at that point. However, there was a clear wish to emphasize the site’s European character and honor the resistance of people from many different nations.

Walter Löffler May 24, 1900 – April 29, 1967

The SPD local councilor Walter Löffler took a position at the Prenzlauer Berg district office at the start of the 1930s. During National Socialism, he was active in the resistance. He was sentenced to seven years in a penal institution for “preparation for high treason” and imprisoned in Plötzensee prison, among other places.

After 1945 Walter Löffler worked in the Berlin administration’s Main Office for Victims of Fascism. When the city administration was divided he moved to West Berlin. From the end of 1948 until 1964, he headed the senator for social affairs’ Department for Victims of Political, Racial, and Religious Persecution. Plötzensee Memorial Center was constructed under his department’s aegis in 1951 and 1952. Walter Löffler was also responsible for organizing events at the historical site.

For financial reasons, Bruno Grimmek’s plans could not be implemented swiftly. Further repair work was carried out and the damaged part of the execution shed was removed. Not until July 16, 1951, did the West Berlin senate finally resolve to build a memorial center for the victims of National Socialism at the former execution site. The foundation stone was to be laid on the Memorial Day for the Victims of Fascism, on September 9 of that same year.

The resolution to establish the memorial center

In July 1951 the senate assumed the cost of establishing the memorial center would be 130,000 deutschmarks. However, this sum was to increase by the time the site was completed, due to alterations to the construction plans, building sanitary facilities, and landscape design.

The original plan was to complete the majority of the memorial center by September 1951, which quickly proved impossible.