Mystery Place: Comedy Square in Harrislee

City center of Harrislee. Photos taken in August 2020

The next mystery place takes us north- way up north to the northernmost town in Germany. Located just west of Flensburg with the Westtangente Highway (Highway B-200) separating the two cities, Harrislee has a population of 11,500 inhabitants and is located right at the border with Denmark. The city includes several small villages including those along the Flensburg Fjorde: Kupfermühle, Zollsiedlung and Wassersleben. Niehuus and Karlsberg are located north of the city at the border, with the former located in the Tunneltal (Tunnel Valley) along the Krusau River which empties at the Fjorde by the Bridge of Friendship at Wassersleben.  Two vehicle border crossings at Pattburg and Krusau as well as two pedestrian border crossings at Wassersleben and Zollsiedlung are known to exist.

Sunrise at the Fjorde in Wassersleben, part of Harrislee

The architecture of Harrislee is primarily modern with many brick houses that can be found in the city, yet the city is over 700 years old. It was first mentioned in 1345 and was once part of Flensburg, yet since 1971, it has become an independent community which later became part of the district Schleswig-Flensburg in 1974. Some historic places that exist in and around Harrislee pays tribute to the German and Danish culture that has remained largely unaffected by the changes in time, including the creation of the German-Danish border and World War II, where the city escaped most of the damages caused by arial raids; its eastern neighbor Flensburg took the brunt of the bombings albeit not as destructive as the ones that destroyed Hamburg, Berlin and even Dresden.  Such places worth visiting including the German House (Bürgerhaus), the Kupfermühle Complex- now a museum, Langbetten von Harrislee, the Meilenstein Stone at the Central School, and the Danish Church.

Then there is the Market Square in Harrislee, at Süderstrasse and Am Markt.  While the number of businesses are few in comparison with Flensburg, the market square is active with many people passing through, stopping for a coffee or dinner at one of a half dozen eateries in the city. The Square hosts many local markets and its Christmas market, which offers many handcrafted goods that are typical oft he region. As spacious as the place is, it can be comparable to some of the larger market squares that host Christmas markets, be it Gedarmenmarkt in Berlin, the Striezelmarkt in Dresden or the market in the Old Town in Nuremberg. 

Yet at this Market Square we have a mystery to solve and it has to do with comedy. At the corner of Süderstrasse and Am Markt, there is a series of flags carrying the colors of Harrislee, but at the foot of the pedestal is a group of statues of figures- all of them are laughing! Regardless of their outfit or even their age and appearance, each statue, made of metal, depicts a person that is laughiing- some rather hysterically.  Each one can be interpreted differently, just by taking a look at the figure.  The question is: „What are they laughing about?“

My question is who was behind the statues, when was it created and what was the motive behind this interesting work of art?  The reason behind that is there was no plaque that explained about the statue. Furthermore, there was no information on it in the history books. Given the appearance of the market square and the houses surrounding it, it appears that they may have been placed there during the 1970s or 80s because of the age that is appearing in some of the structural elements.

Yet, I may be wrong about this and therefore, I would like to know from you how this collection made its way to Harrislee’s city center. Tell us about it, either through social media or in the comment section below. I look forward to your stories.

For now, have a look at the gallery and feel free to comment on them- interpreting their faces and lastly:

What are they laughing about?  This one I don’t know except possibly a Dinner For One show they cracked up on and the famous comment:

„The same procedure as every year.“ 😉

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