AIDS-Memorial München:

In the course of time

The idea for the

Munich AIDS Memorial

Excerpt and photos from the AIDS Memorial brochure 2002:

The column is the oldest and most widespread form of monument. It is an abstraction of the human figure like a symbolic connection between heaven and earth. The column that Wolfgang Tillmans has chosen for an AIDS memorial in Munich does not want to escape this classical role. However, its traditional symbolism is combined with an aesthetic of the everyday. 


AIDS has unexpectedly and unintentionally become a part of our society. Wolfgang Tillmans' design confronts this uncomfortable fact in a striking way. His concept consists of a simple gesture. He brings one of the blue-wired columns from the subway level of the subway station to light as an exact replica and places it on the Sendlingertorplatz above. Two small benches flanking the columns lend the previously barely noticed architectural pillar a special aura and unobtrusively define a place for reflection.


It almost seems as if the single column of the AIDS Memorial could also activate its sibling columns in the subway level and transport its message from a decentralized traffic junction in Munich to the wider surroundings of the city.

From 1981 to today...

When the AIDS Memorial was inaugurated at Sendlinger Tor in 2002, the first treatment options were available, although these were still associated with severe side effects at the time. The memories of those who died during the HIV pandemic were still very much alive. The memorial is dedicated to the dead, but also to those infected, their friends and their families ... from 1981 until today. Today is now!


Since 2002, HIV treatment has developed enormously, but so has prevention. HIV tests have become commonplace, the side effects of treatment have been greatly reduced, there are depot injections, you can protect yourself from infection with pre-exposure prophylaxis (PreP), we know that an infected person can no longer pass on the virus if they are receiving effective treatment. However, the memorial is still calling today to remember the living infected and the survivors.


The Memorial has also changed over the last 22 years. The square has been remodelled and the small benches, which were intended to invite people to reflect, have been removed. The original continuation of the memorial into the subway-station of the underground has disappeared on the mezzanine level and is now only present in the basement at the platform. Has the original meaning of the memorial now been destroyed or has it evolved?

(pictures: Munich Positives)

If you follow the artist Wolfgang Tillmans, who sees the pillar as a symbol of the human figure that creates a connection between the many pillars underground and the sky to the deceased victims of the HIV pandemic, then this symbolises that many infected people no longer live invisibly below the surface, but with HIV in our midst every day. When we as self-help organisations stand next to the pillar, we commemorate the dead (for example, every year on 1 December on World AIDS Day), but are visible among our fellow human beings as people infected with HIV. We carry this message from this central square in Munich to the whole world, from the World AIDS Conference taking place from 20 to 26 July 2024 ( on the outskirts of the city to the city centre and everywhere else.


Today is now!

That is why it is important to us as Munich and German self-help organisations to bring the memory and significance of the AIDS Memorial to life as part of the World AIDS Conference 2024 in Munich.

The artist:

Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans is one of the most important contemporary German artists. You can find more information about him here:

The interview with Wolfgang Tillmans, conducted by Prof. Dr. Bernhart Schwenk, on the significance of the artwork. 

Living with HIV today:

90,800 people living with HIV in Germany (end of 2021).

8,600 people were not aware of their infection (extrapolation).

In 2021, 1,800 people were newly infected in Germany.


In 96% of those infected, HIV is no longer detectable due to treatment and is therefore not transmissible.


There are 39,000,000 people living with HIV worldwide.



In Germany



USA: New York, L.A., Canada: Montreal, UK: London,  Südafrika: Kapstadt, Ukraine: Kiev, Russland: Orenburg, Österreich: Wien, Spanien: Madrid, Schottland: Edinburg, Uganda: Mukono,Australien: Sydney, Madagaskar: Antananarivo, China: Hongkong, Israel: Lahav, Thailand: LopBuri, Nonthaburi, Letland: Riga, Surinam: Nieuw Nickerie, Brasilien: Tabatinga, Argentinien: Goya, ...