Monday, 24 September 2018

Hitler's Hospital

Tentatively stepping past the strange woods where trees marry metal fences, the overgrown grass submerges the concrete pathway underneath my feet. Suddenly autumn has been switched onto 11, the leaves are golden and raining delicately around me, yet the sun is shouting down creating gorgeous colour pallets.

Every now and then, you hear movement, but it never shows. The brambles shake, a voice worms through the air. It's that sensation you are being monitored. A small glacial ripple slithers across my skin.

As I continue forwards, the branches part reluctantly like unveiling the curtain to the red and yellow bricked beauty that lies beneath.

There it stands. Just. The red roofs and towers still tall, the distinctive 19th century architecture crumbling but still standing. Just. It is hard to imagine Heino Schmieden, the famous German architect, seeing his creation now. Watching his magnificent construction, once proud and grand, now decaying and withering away.
The corridors are peeling, sometimes only lit through the shafts of escaping sun bursting through the gaps between the boarded up broken windows. The curling broken wall paper and paint cast beautiful artistic patterns. Walls are fractured and often adorn disrespectful scrawls of past visitors. The floors are a spongey lottery of support. Every step can be rolling a dice. Either beneath you or above. Ceilings gape open, lights swing noose-like above. Hopefully you will win this dice game.
That familiar dank smell of years of dust and rust; a cornucopia of disintegration hangs around you. Sometimes you catch a waft of chemicals. Animals. Decay. Dirt and grime. Sometimes you think you catch a stench of mortality, but I move away too fast to discover more.

Ignorance is a dangerous kind of bliss.

Occasionally you stumble upon small glimpses of life. Of the people that came here, sick, wanting to be cured. Their lungs struggling, you can imagine them lying on their beds staring at the soothing greenery outside. The ghosts of past patients still take a dip in the bath pool, the tall domed ceiling above their heads. A shoe here. A hair brush there. Items lost amongst the ashes of forgotten. Things. Structures. The bread oven rusting slowly; it will no longer bake any bread. The wash rooms, starved and dehydrated. The vast dining hall, now a famine of nourishment. The surgery wards, desolate and carnage ridden - they need surgery themselves.
The structures are empty and gaunt. Yet they are obese with memories, full of emotions, captured in the sinking bricks and rotting interiors.

Once a lowly German soldier attended this hospital, wounded at the Somme, sent to recover. This ordinary mundane person, nothing of note. For this short period, this building helped incubate a murderer. Bricks and mortar sometime contain more stories than living bodies. That icy shiver sweeps by my skin again.

Why is all this dilapidated corrosion so alluring. Why is the haunting uncomfortableness so beautiful.
The rotting building is life itself; a giant still life growing mouldy and fading away. We are but all fleshy crumbling bricks, forgotten in time.

Full set of photos from my trip to Hitler's hospital, Germany.

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