Memorial plaque for deceased drug users

Gedenkplatte für verstorbene Drogengebraucher*innen in der Taunusanlage
© AIDS-Hilfe Frankfurt e. V.

The ‘Riss durchs Leben’ (tear through life) represents the experience of many drug users. The memorial plaque in the reading garden of the Taunusanlage, the former meeting place of the drug scene, symbolises it figuratively. The slab is about one square metre in size. It was unveiled on 21 July 2006 by Manuela Rottmann, then Frankfurt’s head of health. Rottmann then laid a white rose on the memorial plaque.

On the plaque is the saying: ‘Drug users have a right to human dignity just like all other people. They do not need to acquire it through abstinent and conformist behaviour’. It is by Werner Herrmann, a late self-help activist. It draws attention to the damage, even death, produced by repressive drug policies.

In the late 1980s, the number of people who died in connection with drug consumption was extremely high. In 1991, there were still 141 so-called ‘drug deaths’ in the city of Frankfurt. HIV and AIDS were also widespread among drug users. This number has continuously decreased in parallel with the expansion of low-threshold help (crisis centres, consumption rooms, methadone distribution and the heroin distribution project). However, the fact that people continue to die in connection with consumption is a cause for sadness and anger.

The Frankfurt memorial plaque is a joint initiative of the AHF, the Federal Association of Parents and Relatives for Accepting Drug Work, and the self-help network JES (Junkies, Former and Substituted).