German Wehrmacht graffiti
More background info: Denmark
was typically one of the quieter places within the realm of Nazi Germany
and the lands it occupied. As long as there was no engagement with the Danish Resistance (see Frihedsmuseet
), serving as a Wehrmacht soldier in Copenhagen
could be downright boring.
A contingent of such soldiers was ordered to guard a warehouse with supplies of potatoes on the edge of the old meat-packing district. And some of these soldiers must have expressed their boredom through these graffiti – in a couple of cases some even dared to express discontent (see below).
Remarkably, such graffiti have survived to the present day – though they are not protected and indeed threatened not just by ageing but also by additional graffiti.
What there is to see: not that much, and most of the graffiti follow the old bland pattern of just date and name, but a few are more elaborate than that. A couple consist of a few lines – even in rhyme – and are more interesting.
The most interesting are those that evidence discontent. One is simply a homesick note saying “wann kehren wir zurück” (‘when will we go back home’) underneath a row of eight large question marks.
The one that stands out the most, I found, quotes Joseph Goebbels’ well-known line from his infamous speech of 1943 at the Sportpalast: “Wollt ihr den totalen Krieg?” (‘Do you want total war?’). But while at that propaganda event in Berlin
in front of a select audience of devout Nazis
the expected response was a resounding “Ja!” (‘yes’), the graffito here in Copenhagen
adds “nein” (‘no’). That must have been quite risky to do … had the originator of this graffito been caught in the act by a superior that could have had serious consequences.
Unfortunately, these historic graffiti are becoming less and less legible, not just because of the passing of time, but also because newer graffiti vie for the space on these bricks. There is no protection of those remarkable testimonies from a historically significant period, which is sad, because that means they may eventually disappear altogether.
on the hidden back walls of an old warehouse in the former meat-packing compound in Copenhagen
’s Vesterbro district, ca. half a kilometre (550 yards) to the south-west of the main train station.
Access and costs: a little tricky to find; free.
Details: To get to the site from the main train station, exit from the western entrance and head south, then turn right into Stampesgade and after the roundabout enter the former meat-packing complex. Walk south past the western side of the Øksnehallen centre until you get to a visual arts school for the young called Billedskolen i Tvillinghallen. The latter is a reference to the twin roof of the yellow-brick building. It is this building that the graffiti are on, although not at the front but at the opposite end at the back on the walls facing south and east. The graffiti are quite small, all fitting on to a single brick, so you have to look quite closely. The most interesting ones are by the south-eastern corner of the building.
The site is freely accessible at all times, but of course to see the graffiti you want to be there in daylight.
Time required: not long at all – just a few minutes.
Combinations with other dark destinations:
see under Copenhagen
Combinations with non-dark destinations: Vesterbro’s former meat-packing district, which stretches for acres to the west of the little warehouse with the graffiti, has in recent years become one of the “hippest” in-districts of Copenhagen, with art galleries, restaurants and craft beer bars and a somewhat edgy counterculture vibe … and you can also encounter quite a few drug addicts hanging out here. But it’s certainly worth a look. The hip atmosphere also extends beyond the ex-meat-packing district as such towards the west along Sønder Boulevard and north of that.
- Wehrmacht graffiti 1 - brick by brick
- Wehrmacht graffiti 2 - defiance
- Wehrmacht graffiti 3 - rhyme
- Wehrmacht graffiti 4 - homesick
- Wehrmacht graffiti 5 - simple and factual
- Wehrmacht graffiti 6 - barely legible
- Wehrmacht graffiti 7 - in the fomrer meat-packing district