The Ladder to Heaven: Bridging BHU and Bonn

The Chairperson, Helma Ritscher, of Indo-German Society Affiliate Remschied, presented Prof. Priyankar Upadhayay, the chair holder of the UNESCO Chair for Peace and Intercultural Understanding, BHU, a picture by the artist Horst-Olaf Schmidt, as a Symbol of Peace. Here’s a report by Shruti.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “The Various religions are like different roads converging on the same point. What difference does it make if we fallow different routes, provided we arrive at the same destination?”

The ‘Ladder to Heaven’ (the ladder of Divine Ascent /Jacob’s ladder) is a symbol known in most religions. It’s a metaphor in Buddhism and Hinduism. It is interpreted in different ways. Nowadays, many people mistake the ladder for achieving superficial aims like consumerism, power and fame. Many use its rungs – without regarding men and nature – to be the first in achieving these one sided attributes.

The German artist and resident of Remscheid, Horst –Olaf Schmidt, has created the ‘Ladder to Heaven’ as a sign of against consumerism and the questionable aims of achieving riches, power and fame. The artist understands the ‘Ladder to Heaven’ as a symbol for peace, which connects in its original interpretation and radiance all regions in the world. The ladder leads towards the first rungs, which give us support on our way through life and teaches us to become considerate, compassionate, grateful, and achieve humanity.

The 7.5m high original ‘Ladder to Heaven’ is placed in the internationally established first Women’s Museum in Bonn, Germany. The museum was founded in 1991, by its director Marinne Pizen (Consultant for Art and Culture and Curator Peter Koster). In 2016, the Women’s Museum is celebrating its 35th anniversary. It is the germ for more than 50 women’s museums and initiatives worldwide.

For the first time ‘The Ladder to Heaven’ by Horst-Olaf Schmidt will be displayed as the work for the only male artist among 100 renown female artist participating in the exhibition ‘Work & Women’, from April 17 to October 30, 2016. After the exhibition, the installation of wood, steel and hemp will remain in the Women’s Museum, Bonn, Germany, on permanent loan.

On the 50th anniversary of the Indo-German Society Affiliate Remschied, the picture of the origin of the artist work (a mixture of photography and oils on canvas) presented to Prof. Priyankar Upadhayay, on behalf of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) as a ‘Symbol of Peace’, on February 12, earlier this month. Prof. Upadhyay announced a new course on women and peace at Malviya Center for Peace Research.

The letter of Helma Ritscher, addressed to Prof. Upadhayay, states, “It is a great honor to present you – as the chair holder of the UNESCO Chair for Peace and Intercultural Understanding, Banaras Hindu University – this picture by the artist Horst-Olaf Schmidt, as a Symbol of Peace, on the behalf of the Indo –German Society Affiliate Remscheid.”

The letter adds, “It is also a great honor to be invited to this worldwide famous university and I am very grateful to be here. Let me also express my gratitude for your generosity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our Indo-German Society Remscheid at this exceptional place.

“I also want to thank Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi for his friendship and partnership since 2002 and for inviting me to Varanasi.

“And allow me to congratulate you on behalf of the Indo-German Society to the 100th anniversary of the Banaras Hindu University.

“The picture shows the seven-and-a-half meter work of the artist titled ‘Ladder to Heaven’, which is displayed at the first Women’s Museum in Bonn, Germany. The museum celebrates its 35th anniversary and the founder and director, Marianne Pitzen, and the artist, Horst-Olaf Schmidt, send their regards.”

Helma, in her letter concluded, “It would be a great honor if this picture –presented on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Indo-German Society Remscheid-would be displayed at the Hindu Banaras Hindu University and thus build a bridge between The Banaras Hindu University and the Women’s Museum Bonn, Germany.”


Text and Pix by author

Shruti Nagvanshi

Shruti Nagvanshi

Shruti is a social activist and co-founder of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Right (PVCHR), India. A strong activist in favour of justice for the downtrodden, aptly describes Shruti's persona. She has won many national and international awards for her work in promoting social justice and defending rights of the marginalised, vulnerable Dalit women and children, mainly in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh, India.
Shruti Nagvanshi