On Monday 29 January 2018 a conference organised by the Mecklenburg Foundation (Stiftung Mecklenburg) and attended by over 200 participants was held at the Cultural Quarter in Neustrelitz to provide a forum to discuss future plans for the area where the Neustrelitz Palace stood and which has been empty since the destruction of the palace by fire in 1945 and its subsequent demolition.
The only remaining part of the palace structure is the basement which the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern wants to have filled in, a proposal which is deeply opposed in Neustrelitz.
Political opposition to the plan to fill the basement came from across the political spectrum with both the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and The Left (Der Linke) Party opposing the plan and announcing they will attempt to exert influence to delay the implantation of the plan in order for a new solution to be found. Speaking at the meeting Mr Torsten Koplin, leader of The Left Party, also called for Neustrelitz to be made the cultural capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Amongst the experts to address the meeting were Professor Dr Sabine Bock, an architectural historian, who argued that the basement is a national monument and to fill it in would be a violation of the law protecting national monuments. Mr Holger Wilfarth Dipl.Ing from the Neustrelitz Office of Sustainability, spoke of the possibility of restoring the basement and opening it up to guided tours. The expert view was that filling the basement would be an irreversible measure and not a temporary one as argued by the state who propose to fill it with sand which could be removed at a later date in the event of any rebuilding taking place.
An expert speaker from outside Mecklenburg was Mr Wilhelm von Boddien, the Managing Director of the Berlin Palace Association and the driving force behind the successful campaign to reconstruct the Berlin Palace in the German capital. Addressing the meeting Mr von Boddien gave a talk on his experiences with the ultimately successful campaign to have the Berlin Palace reconstructed.
There was agreement from the attendees at the conference that the filling of the palace basement should not go ahead. An alternative solution that was supported by the majority of attendees was for a reconstructed, or at least partly reconstructed, palace to be built. So after fire destroyed the original Strelitz Palace in 1712 and its successor Neustrelitz Palace in 1945 the capital of Mecklenburg-Strelitz may one day see a new palace rise from the ashes again.
A video of the palace basement can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/AIFq1poJrvc