A memorial sculpture at the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research commemorates the tragic history of the predecessor institute during the Third Reich


A picture of emptiness and desolation

“Never Forget is a picture of emptiness and desolation. It is the collection of nine children’s chairs, arranged on a platform, in which the names of 38 of those children killed in Brandenburg-Görden are engraved. They are hard and awkward looking sharp-edged objects, nothing that invites one to sit on them”, shares Cuticchio. “Some are still standing, others are tilted, as if a child had been pulled away from them by force. Nothing to tell of child-like treatment, but to remind us of the daily torment and pain of those who were labeled “unworthy of life” by their tormentors.”

“For the children who were all murdered on October 28, 1940, a barren chair may have been something like the last stop in their short lives. A chair seemed appropriate as a symbol of their absence. An object of the utmost banality and commonplace, still there when what is most precious – the children – has been destroyed.”

The concept and realization of “Never Forget” were the responsibility of Christiane Cuticchio, Sven Fritz and Lutz Pillong. In collaboration with Lothar Zaubitzer and Lutz Pillong, a model of a chair was created from cardboard, which was later cast in concrete in nine copies at Studio Ostpool by Anselm Baumann and placed on the platform, also designed at Atelier Goldstein and realized by Baumann. The 38 names of the children killed were designed by Atelier Goldstein artists Dustin Eckhardt, Tina Herchenröther, Franz von Saalfeld, Markus Schmitz, Selbermann.

A reminder and warning

“The sculpture will serve as a warning and reminder to future scientists that there are ethical boundaries that must never, under any circumstances, be crossed. We hope that this memorial will, on the scale of this institute and institution, contribute to giving back some dignity to the victims of these crimes”, concludes Laurent.

The unveiling ceremony in the foyer of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research was followed by an emotional flower ceremony. Forty employees, a majority of them students or postdoctoral fellows, of the MPI for Brain Research read the names of the children and for each child, laid down a unique flower on the memorial.

As of May 25, Never Forget can be publicly viewed in the Foyer of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research (Max-von-Laue-Str. 4, 60438 Frankfurt am Main).

Artwork: Atelier Goldstein, 2022 (Christiane Cuticchio, Sven Fritz, Lutz Pillong)
Funding: Max Planck Foundation


Never Forget evokes the horrific memories of a particularly brutal October day in 1940, when 58 children were removed from their institution for the mentally-disabled and executed to make their brains available for the studies by Julius Hallervorden. © Norbert Miguletz

The names of 38 children, murdered on October 28, 1940 are inlaid into the platform of Never Forget. The marquetry was designed by five of the Atelier Goldstein artists.
© Norbert Miguletz

Prof. Gilles Laurent, managing director of the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Christiane Cuticchio, director of Atelier Goldstein discussing infront of the memorial sculpture, Never Forget. © Frank Rumpenhorst