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history of the building


history of the building

The building’s first lease of life was as the exclusive Silvana Hotel, which opened its doors in 1907. Ownership of the hotel changed a number of times during the 1920s. In mid-1933, the Nazi Party’s (NSDAP) Hesse-Nassau branch occupied the building and, on the occasion of the ground-breaking ceremony for the first autobahn construction project, it was named Gauhaus, which was the seat of the district headquarters, and dedicated to Adolf Hitler. The building was opened under these auspices to coincide with the Gau Party Convention on 23 September 1933 and Hitler himself was present for the event.

The building at Gutleutstrasse 8–12 remained the seat of the regional NSDAP party headquarters for about seven years. In the early 1940s, the function of the Gauhaus was then assumed by the more central building on Börsenplatz (Rathenauplatz), which had been converted for that purpose.

Only an imprecise understanding of events that took place in the building is possible through individual items found on the premises. To cover up traces, all files of the Gauleitung were destroyed shortly before the liberation by the American Allies at the end of March 1945.

The building was most certainly the coordination point for anti-Jewish campaigns, such as the November pogrom on 9 November in 1938, although documentary evidence no longer exists. Despite the lack of official confirmation, it cannot be excluded that people were detained and tortured in the building. However, the building is certainly directly linked to the euthanasia murders, known as T4-Aktion (abbreviation for Tiergartenstraße 4, the address of the department of the ‘Chancellery of the Führer’ in 1940/41). As part of the T4-Aktion organised at the Gauhaus, people with disabilities and chronicle health conditions were systematically murdered in Hadamar, near Limburg (Hesse). It is highly likely that the first deportations of Jewish people from Frankfurt in 1941 were also organised from here.

After World War II, the building became the headquarters of the local branch of the German Communist Party and of the editorial desk of the party’s newspaper, the Hessischer Landbote and the Sozialistische Volkszeitung. From 1953 onwards, the building housed a film archive. The Landesbildstelle Hessen (Hessian state image archive) was located there from 1956 until 2002. The building at Gutleutstrasse 8-12 was vacant from 2002 until 2007, when it was rehabilitated by basis e.V. as a non-profit association. In late 2007, the association relocated to the premises and has since used it to promote artistic and creative content.


This text is based on the research of Lutz Becht of the Institute for Urban History Frankfurt, which he presented during a lecture on May 29, 2008, on the occasion of the opening of the building at Gutleutstrasse as new location of basis e.V.