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Warburgstraße (formerly Klopstockstraße), 1906, photo: State Archive Hamburg

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The Warburg Ensemble tells a complex story – one of a city ready to expand into its surrounding areas, one of flourishing Jewish bourgeois life, torn apart half a century later in fascist Germany.

It is a story that builds the bridge from a romantic revolutionary to a banker and politician. The address used to be Klopstockstraße, named after Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, a poet and pietist’s son who died in Hamburg in 1803. Today, the street refers to Max Moritz Warburg, who was born in Hamburg in 1867 and had to emigrate to the US in 1938 fleeing Nazi persecution. He died in 1946 in New York. His brother was the art historian Aby Warburg. The Warburg Institute in Hamburg and London are important institutions to this day.

Left: Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock, photo: bpk; Right: Max Warburg, photo: ullstein picture

The neighborhood is called Harvestehude-Rotherbaum, originally located in front of the city’s gates. During the 19th century, the summer homes and garden houses that had been built in this area were gradually replaced by stately mansions. The nearest city gate was the Dammtor, today one of the three major train stations of Hamburg. As of 1860, the gate was no longer closed at night, after which the settlement took off.

  • Hamburg 1791, photo: state archive hamburg

  • Hamburg 1864, photo: Christian Terstegge

  • Hamburg 1886, photo: Christian Terstegge

A lot of Jewish citizens chose to build their houses in this suburb. It was the Gründerzeit, as it is called in German history, the time before and after foundation of the German Kaiserreich under the guidance of Otto von Bismarck in 1871. Wealth, power and a greater ambition all mix with the nascent bourgeois lifestyle of an aspiring middle-class to form this unique neighborhood of Hamburg which became part of the city in 1894.

  • Jewish life in Hamburg, 1925, photo: The Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People

  • Haberdashery at Neuer Wall, 1936, photo: image database of the IGdJ

  • lodge house in the restaurant, photo: image database of the IGdJ

  • Orphanage for Jewish girls in Paulinenstift, around 1924, photo: image database of the IGdJ

  • Jewish rowing club, 1935, photo: image database of the IGdJ

  • Tora Talmud Secondary School, around 1870, photo: ullstein picture

The separate town houses comprising the Warburg Ensemble, stretching from Warburg Straße 8 to 22 and around the corner to Alsterterrasse 10a, were built between the end of the 1860s and the end of the 1870s. The buildings are set around a generous garden in the back, close to the Außenalster, Hamburg’s lake within the city, today a hub for after-work sailors and joggers.
The most prominent of the houses is the Haller Building at Warburgstraße 18, constructed after the plans of the well-known Hamburg architect Martin Haller in the early 1870s. It was of residential use, the first owner being William Henry O’Swald, a senator, trader and deputy mayor of the city. Other owners include Adolph Godeffroy, one of the founders of global shipping company Hapag.

Uhlenhorster ferry house, Photo: ullstein Bild

After the war, this building as well as most of the others was put to different use – it became home to offices, diplomatic services, a dancing school and a book shop. The character of the area changed as the city changed and expanded anew, it became less residential and more and more administrative.

In a lot of ways, the restoration of the building will not only reestablish the place in its original form but also reconnect it with its original story, reclaiming the ambition of The New Institute: to establish a place that fosters imagination, that marries the intellectually intriguing with the aesthetically advanced. A place that invites visionary thinking.

Warburgstrasse 22-14, 1987

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