Abriss Postamt (LFS 01433 3)

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Demolition of the old Philippsburg post office in August 1971


Reference / film number :  LFS 01433 3
Date :  1971
Coloration :  Color
Sound :  Sound movie
Running time :  00:01:35
Reel format :  Super 8 mm
Language :  German
Genre :  Amateur movie
Thematics :  Industrial and cultural heritage, Industry, Places, Natural and transformed landscape
Archive :  Haus des Dokumentarfilms

Context and analysis

The chattering of the pneumatic hammers can be heard immediately: original noises from the deconstruction site are among the pictures that capture the demolition of the old Philippsburg post office building in August 1971. The 'Super 8' technique made the sound film possible also for amateurs since the mid-1960s. So the demolition of the post office building in the Rote Tor Straße is audible at the same time: next to the jackhammers the noise of the excavator and every now and then a horn.

"On a Saturday afternoon, it was the last hour of our post office. Here is a look at the demolition work." This view is subjective, the speaker and the amateur film maker has no ambition to emulate the objective ideal of television coverage. He gives orientation and then retreats before he winks and realizes that it is fortunate that "our postmaster" and his wife have moved out of the building in time. The old post office had long ceased to meet the requirements of increased postal traffic. The city administration decided for a new building.

The first shot, a shot from the construction site, draws straight into the picture with the original sounds: an audio-visual image that can even better fulfill the demands of the documentary. There is the post office building with the excavator and the truck, but also the environment remains present: the gables of the residential buildings in the background, in front the gray piece of road and the blue trailer, which still protrudes into the picture. The very demolished building draws attention to the concrete, to the material traces. In the next shot - taken from across the street - the dark house behind the post comes into view and a cyclist drives slowly past. Visual and acoustic traces are engraved in the picture - in its center as on its edges.

Then the camera comes close to the wall of the house: two adjacent window caves can be seen, black holes, surrounded by the red clinker façade, underneath a strip of the gray base layer is exposed - probably at this point an extension was demolished. A swing down brings two doors in the white wall into the picture, which formerly belonged to an interior. The excavator is about to process the debris: With the movement of his arm, the setting jumps into a long shot until the cargo with a cloud of dust on the truck goes down. The chattering of the pneumatic hammers has given way to the engine noise of the excavator, which is repeatedly overshadowed by loud beats.

How do you react when you feel watched by an amateur movie camera? A man who does not want to be filmed ducks behind a car after the scene has moved to the entrance to the post office. A swivel and a zoom bring the gray grid with the open front door into the picture. Where formerly operating, now the surfaces of things stand out: the grid of the grid, the black hole of a door, next to the sun throws a bright rectangle. With the zoom, the old entrance sign is gradually recognizable.

The privater film camera traces the visible and the audible signs of destruction and inscribing them on film. A shot of the half-torn post also makes the house walls next to it and the dark street in front of it emerge as the surfaces that they are. And the material intensifies the picture when, in a cutting sequence, the ruin of the house is almost scanned with slow pans: rubble, fragments of walls and the stationary excavator in front of it.

It does not bother much that the post office building is higher in the next shot and the sound does not always seem to be in sync. The noises give the event on the construction site additionally a material weight. And the image does not remain merely a mere image: it is manifested in the traces of the materials that can be seen, the traces of which reveal the surfaces of what comes into view. The audio-visual image shows the construction site of the post office in the senses of the visible and the audible. It not only shows the known and recognizable, but also the concrete that is yet to be discovered. With the pan in the last picture, the yawning hole of the excavation appears - but also the yellow VW Beetle, which stands at the rear at its edge.

Reiner Bader

Places and monuments


  1. This film analysis is still in progress. It may therefore be incomplete and contain errors.