'Rock'n'Ruins' is the title of a music competition for young bands which the Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz (German Foundation for the Protection of Monuments) organised for the first time in 1994/95. The original invitation to participate from 1994 stated the following aims of the foundation and this competition:

"The Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz helps preserve valuable historical material. A worthy cause, as monuments are a part of our culture, our environment. And we have to protect and preserve both. After all, who wants to live in bleak and 'faceless' cities...? (...) your songs should, in one way or the other, have to do with monuments, ruins or castles."

Inherent in this initiative is a valuing of historical monuments as a precious resource, and of history culture as culturally important for society: old buildings are 'denk-mals' which play an important role in our cultural memory and are full of wonder and aura. It was the main aim of Rock'n'Ruins to put this message across to the younger generation which is not normally much concerned with monument preservation. As Hans-Dietrich Genscher, the patron of the competition, put it: "Nobody is too young for monument preservation, and nobody is ever too old for rock music".

The competition attracted altogether 251 entries in a great number of different musical genres (not just rock music), which involved more than 1,500 musicians with an average age of 18. The lyrics referred to local ruins and monuments as well as to renovations of the old parts of German towns and to the graves of Egyptian kings. After a pre-selection, various groups performed their songs on four stages around Germany, each time in front of an ancient monument. While ancient theatres have long been used for modern performances, one important aim of Rock'n'Ruins was to bring other buildings of the cultural heritage, quite literally, into the limelight.

The first of these concerts took place in front of the wonderful minster of Bad Doberan on the 17.6.1995. It formed part of the Doberaner Klosterspektakel, which also featured, among other events, guided tours and organ-concerts in the minster, a Medieval market and various rock- and punk-concerts. The Klosterspektakel in turn was part of the celebrations of 1,000 years Mecklenburg.

The three winners of Rock'n'Ruins were invited to participate in concerts in Scotland, the Netherlands and Belgium during the European Heritage Days in 1996.

Note: all information and quotes given (links added) are from press reports and materials courtesy of Kreisverwaltung Bad Doberan, Deutsche Stiftung Denkmalschutz and Agentur Preisler & Partner.

© Cornelius Holtorf