Birkenkopf today is 511 m high. Until the late 1940s, it was 40 m less high. Where did the additional height come from?
Stuttgart was heavily bombed in WWII: during 53 raids (25 of them in 1944 alone), nearly 1.5 million bombs landed on the city, destroying more than half or up to 70 % of all buildings (numbers vary, depending on where you look for information). After the war, the more than 260.000 people then living in Stuttgart did what they could to clear the rubble and rebuild their lives and their city. Far into the 1950s, many buildings were still ruins.
The rubble had to go somewhere, and Birkenkopf was chosen. Lorry after lorry rumbled up the hill which was steadily growing in height.
It was decided to leave parts of buildings and street pavements visible on the very top of the hill, so that people would never forget those terrible times.
The plaque reads: "This mount, piled up after the Second World War out of the ruins of the city, stands as a memorial to the victims, as a warning to the living."
The view from Birkenkopf across Stuttgart and the surrounding wooded hills is truly spectacular, especially on a day like that:
It was my first visit here, and I had not expected to be so deeply touched by looking at all those parts of buildings and bits of pavement. I couldn't help but think of the incredible waste of lives; once people lived, worked, loved and argued in these houses and walked those streets, until Germany so stupidly and misguidedly brought the horrors of war upon itself. What a tragedy!
To see this beautiful butterfly resting on a broken column in the middle of a pile of rubble somehow had a highly symbolic character:
It was one of most touching places I've visited in a long time.