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Bremer Loch: The Hole of Bremen

Bremen hole

Image credit: dcabrerizo/Flickr

There is an unusual donation box installed beneath the streets in front of the State Parliament building in Germany’s northern city of Bremen. It appears like a circular, bronze manhole cover, but in the center of the lid, there is a small slit for people to drop coins or paper money. In return, the donation box plays a musical thank you from one of Bremen’s four famous musicians—a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster.

The Bremen hole or “Bremer Loch” was the brainchild of professor and designer, Fitz Haase, who came up with the donation box idea to assist the city’s charitable organization. Since 2007, the year it was installed, between 12,000 and 17,000 euros are dropped into the slot every year. Many visitors drop one coin after another just to hear all the four animal voices. The collections are managed and distributed by the Wilhelm-Kaisen-Buergerhilfe, a charitable foundation.

The donation box itself is a simple steel bucket located directly underneath the slit where the coins collect. When visitors drop coins into the slot of the box, the money passes a photocell, which sends a trigger and one of the pre-recorded animal voices plays from a chip.

For those who are wondering, “why animal voices?”, Bremen is associated with one of Brothers Grimm’s famous fairy tale, “The Town Musicians of Bremen”, where a group of aging friends—a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster—abandoned by their masters, take over a cottage from robbers in the city of Bremen by creating a huge ruckus and scaring them away. These animals have become a sort of symbol for Bremen. There is a also a sculpture to the famous Town Musicians outside the town hall.

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