Bonn · The Volksbank building at Hochkreuz in Bonn is marked as a swastika on a hiking map of the Rhein-Sieg district. The regional council rejects a quick correction.
For years nobody noticed that a swastika was hidden on the hiking map in front of the Löwenburger Hof in the Siebengebirge. Until GA reader Christian König came across it and contacted the editors. On the official document the floor plan of the Bonn Volksbank building on Heinemannstraße is marked as a swastika, which not only surprised the Volksbank Köln-Bonn, but also the authorities. Nobody can explain how this happened. There will be no quick exchange.
Actually, König only wanted to explain a route to a few strangers and took a look at one of the large hiking maps, which he never noticed otherwise. Below the Rheinaue he got stuck on a black swastika. When König compared the floor plan with other maps, he came across the building of the Volksbank Köln-Bonn. "I involuntarily thought of the story of the US Navy Amphibious Base in Coronado near San Diego." There was a building with a similar floor plan, which was first noticed by satellite images from Google Maps (see "Conversion for 600,000 dollars"). Washington was so embarrassed that the barracks were rebuilt. König also turned to those responsible. "An attempt to make a change to the hiking maps palatable to the bank unfortunately failed," he says.
Volksbank: Naturally unpleasant
Volksbank spokesman Wilhelm Wester is also uncomfortable. "It goes without saying that nothing is further from our minds than making a statement about the floor plan of the Volksbank building, and certainly not a statement that even approximately points in the direction of forbidden Nazi symbols," he says. But in this case the bank's hands are tied: One is simply not responsible for the hiking map.
The Volksbank building was opened in 2001 on the occasion of the centenary of the former Volksbank Bonn Rhein-Sieg. It consists of four components grouped around a central interior area, the Volksbank Forum. "On the ground floor, these four building slabs house conference and consulting rooms, training rooms, a self-service station and a casino with kitchen," explains Wester. On the upper floors there are offices, and on the fifth floor, which is slightly set back, there are further conference rooms as well as the offices of the board of directors with the associated work areas of the assistants.
There is room for a total of 240 employees. All back-office departments of the Volksbank are located there. "The Forum is often used for concerts - because of the good acoustics -, exhibitions and events of all kinds such as graduation ceremonies or in September for the ideas exchange," says Wester. How the curious marking came about can be at least partially understood. The building's arms actually resemble the symbol, but the centre of the building is much larger - which makes it by no means look like a swastika on satellite pictures. Apparently, it has been drawn in a strongly reduced form. "We want to take up the reference and address the Verschönerungsverein Siebengebirge, so that the Volksbank-Haus is represented neutrally in a new edition of the hiking map," says Wester.
District council uses historical maps
But the Verschönerungsverein Siebengebirge (VVS) is not responsible according to its own statements. "I object to the assumption that the hiking map should be a map of the VVS," says Chairman Werner Stieber. He refers to the Rhein-Sieg district as the Lower Nature Conservation Authority, which has commissioned an external company to provide the hiking boards set up in the Siebengebirge with the hiking maps.
The district used historical maps from Geobasis NRW, the former state surveying office. "It is an official map series that we always use as a basis for such purposes," says district spokeswoman Rita Lorenz. The changing of the maps had been discussed but that would cause costs in connection with the large number of maps, which was not regarded as justified by the specialist department. In addition, there was "no political statement" behind the floor plan. In the case of new editions of the hiking maps, the building should be drawn differently.
(Original text: Nicolas Ottersbach; Translation: Mareike Graepel)