Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Köln Archives destroyed

Very sad news in the archives and history worlds: the building housing the state archives in Köln collapsed Tuesday with almost no warning.

The city without a memory: treasures lost under collapsed Cologne archives

The archives included the minutes of all town council meetings held since 1376. Not a single session had been missed, making the collection a remarkable resource for legal historians.

The earliest document stored in the building dated back to 922, and there were hundreds of thousands of documents spread over six floors, some of them written on thin parchment. A total of 780 complete private collections and half a million photographs were being stored.

Many of the documents had been recovered from library buildings smashed by Allied bombing during the Second World War.

As of this posting, at least two people are still missing and presumed lost under the rubble. As for the documents, while not everything will be irretrievably damaged, much of what is lost will be completely irreplaceable.

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