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Treasures on show again after building collapse

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Treasures on show again after building collapse
Photo:DPA
08:00 CET+01:00
Cologne's Historical Archive is putting original documents on show on Tuesday – the first display after the building collapsed nearly three years ago, burying countless valuable German cultural documents and books under a pile of rubble.

The reading room in the restoration and digitalization centre as well as part of the library and photograph collection will be open to the public, with some restored documents dating back to the Middle Ages.

At first, most of the documents on show will be those which have been digitalized, with increasing numbers of originals to be made available as restoration continues. It is expected to take up to 50 years before the entire collection is restored, however.

Of the 60,000 or so original documents dating from between 922 and 1815, just 600 will be on display from Tuesday, while photographs of pictures portraying Cologne-related events and people will also be available.

One of the highlights of the show will be the original constitutional founding document from 1396 that established Cologne as a city, said Frank Neweling, spokesman for the archive.

The archive collapsed on March 3, 2009, killing two people and burying 30 kilometres of treasured historical archives, including the Nobel Literature Laureate Heinrich Böll's papers and the Middle Ages writings of theologian Albertus Magnus.

Around 95 percent of the documents were recovered, despite initial fears that most may have been destroyed. The reason for the collapse has still not been established, although a connection with nearby tunnelling work for a new underground train line has been suspected.

A new building is scheduled to be ready in 2015.

DAPD/The Local/hc

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