The Barbara Tunnels (aka Barbarastollen) underground archive preserves Germany’s cultural heritage from man-made or natural disasters. The Barbarastollen is located in a disused mine near Freiburg im Breisgau, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Approximately 31.2 million meters of microfilm (over 998 million images) have been filmed and stored from records in German archives and museums. This includes 8.2 million meters (about 244 million records) from the archive of the former GDR .
The German National Archives is using microfilm and tunnel storage for the long-term preservation of their records, including Bach’s handwritten manuscripts, blueprints of the Cologne Cathedral, and Hitler’s certificate of appointment as Chancellor.
Among the documents stored here on microfilm are:
- Treaty text of the Peace of Westphalia
- Bull by Pope Leo X threatening Martin Luther with excommunication
- Coronation document of Otto I
- Documents of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- Original building plans for Cologne Cathedral.
The official site notes:
The Barbarastollen tunnel is protected by the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict of UNESCO. It is a “refuge intended to shelter, in the event of armed conflict, the movable cultural property” according to article 1 sub-paragraph b. It is furthermore the only cultural property in Germany under special protection according to Chapter II of the convention, and one of only five such sites worldwide, the others being the Vatican City and three refuges in the Netherlands. …The entire complex is buried under 400 meters of rock. It is intended to survive a nuclear war. It is estimated that its contents should survive for at least 500 years without any serious damage.
The Barbara Tunnels method may seem unbearably old school in today’s digital world, but I couldn’t agree more with their analog strategy. Read about it here. The Flickr site for the Barbara Tunnels is located here.