New guard

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View of the Neue Wache from Unter den Linden boulevard

The Neue Wache on the boulevard Unter den Linden 4 is a monument in the Berlin district of Mitte . Erected in the years 1816–1818 by Karl Friedrich Schinkel as a guard for the opposite Royal Palace and memorial for the wars of liberation , it is one of the main works of German classicism . For architectural ensemble belong next to a Victorias relief by Johann Gottfried Schadow and five Generals statues of Christian Daniel Rauch , the reference to the warrior groups at the Castle Bridge take. Since 1993 the Neue Wache has served as the Federal Republic of Germany's central memorial for the victims of war and tyranny .


Perspective view , drawing by Karl Friedrich Schinkel , 1819
Parade on Opernplatz , painting by Franz Krüger , 1829
New guard as a guard building of the monarchy, around 1900
Neue Wache as a memorial to the Republic, 1931
Reconstruction of the Neue Wache, 1951

Guard building

From 1816 to 1818 on behalf of Friedrich Wilhelm III. The main and royal guard, built according to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel , served as a guard building for the royal palace opposite and as a memorial for those who fell in the wars of liberation against Napoleon. Schinkel's plans incorporated earlier designs by Heinrich Gentz and Salomo Sachs , which were not implemented due to the Napoleonic Wars .

The change of the Alte Wache , Kanonierwache , Schloss- or Königswache was a preferred redesign topic of the king since 1803/04. For this purpose, prize tasks were formulated for the academy exhibitions in Berlin. To implement the task went to the college of the Oberhofbauamt and the Royal Prussian Academy of the Arts . In the period between 1786 and 1816, the focus was on drafts and architectural model buildings based on ancient models.

A memorable event occurred on October 16, 1906, when the shoemaker Friedrich Wilhelm Voigt disguised as "Captain von Köpenick" captured the mayor of Köpenick , his chief treasurer of Wildberg, and confiscated the city treasury. With military escort he put Georg Langerhans and von Wildberg in a cab to Berlin and had them arrested at the guard by the guard regiment on duty, the prince of the imperial family.

Before the First World War, the Neue Wache had been expanded beyond its actual purpose into the main central office of the military telegraph in Berlin and from 1900 into a military post office for internal official traffic. The military leadership issued daily orders for the Berlin garrison. It was from here that mobilizations started on August 1, 1914, and demobilization four years later. During the November Revolution of 1918, soldiers and workers occupied the building.


At the suggestion of Prussia's Prime Minister Otto Braun ( SPD ), Heinrich Tessenow redesigned the Neue Wache in 1931 as a memorial for the fallen in the World War , which was then named the Memorial of the Prussian State Government . Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Hans Poelzig won second and third prizes with their competition designs for redesigning the interior.

Mies van der Rohe's unrealized design envisaged a monumental interior with a flat black memorial stone, which was decorated with the German coat of arms on the top and with the simple inscription "DEN TOTEN" on the side. On the side walls of the interior there were two stone benches, in the back wall there was a glass door through which the visitor from the boulevard Unter den Linden would have seen the chestnut grove behind the Neue Wache. The same materials should be chosen for the Berlin Memorial as for the Barcelona Pavilion , namely floors made of light gray travertine and walls made of dark green Tinos .

After severe damage in World War II , there were various suggestions for use, e. B. as a bookstore, Goethe memorial or memorial to the victims of fascism and war. After the end of the war, one of the rescuers of the Neue Wache was Hinnerk Scheper, then head of the preservation of monuments and state curator of Berlin . Another savior of the Schinkel building, the architect Selman Selmanagić , prevented a demolition demanded by Berlin FDJ members in 1949. He had learned of the plans and vetoed the responsible Soviet cultural officer Dymschitz . This finally decided with a word of power over the fate of the guard. In 1949, the culture commission of the FDGB of Greater Berlin also committed to preserving the Schinkel building as a Goethe memorial. In the following years, the front of the guard was used as a poster area.

On April 12, 1950, part of the front of the building collapsed, seriously damaging the gable reliefs and some figures of Victoria. The secured pieces were stored in the National Gallery. Almost at the same time, the funds for the reconstruction of the outer facade of the guard were approved and were carried out from 1951 to 1957. Finally, from 1957 to 1960, under the direction of Heinz Mehlan, the building was restored as a memorial to the victims of fascism and militarism . On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the GDR in 1969, Lothar Kwasnitza added a prism-shaped glass body with an eternal flame in the middle of the room .

After German reunification in 1990, the Neue Wache was redesigned again. In the interior, all elements from the GDR era were removed and the Tessenow design from 1931 was largely restored. Instead of the wreath of oak leaves, however , Chancellor Helmut Kohl had a greatly enlarged copy of Käthe Kollwitz's plastic mother with dead son set up, which caused a heated public controversy. The inauguration of the Neue Wache, rededicated as a memorial for the victims of war and tyranny, took place on the day of national mourning in 1993.

In 2017 the building received barrier-free access, new lighting and an anti-graffiti protective coating.


On September 18, 1818, on the occasion of the visit of Tsar Alexander of Russia, soldiers of the Alexander Regiment moved to the Neue Wache in the " Great Guard Elevator Unter den Linden " with a chime. From then on, the military ceremony took place with minor changes and longer interruptions after the First and Second World Wars until German reunification in 1990.

From 1962 until the end of the GDR, two soldiers from the Friedrich Engels Guard Regiment , who were relieved every hour in the small guard elevator, stood as honor guards in front of the Neue Wache. On Wednesdays and Saturdays at 2:30 p.m., an honorary formation from the regiment pulled up to the Great Watch Lift on Unter den Linden. The guard elevators attracted a large number of spectators who watched the soldiers relieving themselves in the exercise step.

Since the day of national mourning on November 14, 1993, the Neue Wache has served as the central memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the victims of war and tyranny. On the day of national mourning and on other official occasions - such as the laying of wreaths - the guard battalion at the Federal Ministry of Defense places an honor guard for the building.


The illuminated Neue Wache at night
Plastic mother with dead son by Käthe Kollwitz in the interior

outer facade

Schinkel's plans for the Neue Wache incorporated earlier designs by Heinrich Gentz ​​and Salomo Sachs, which were not implemented due to the Prussian defeat in the battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806. Only after the end of the war of liberation against Napoleon in 1815 were the plans resumed.

Schinkel succeeded in the building, despite its relatively small building structure by means of clear shapes, massive corner projections and by a strict Doric to give a columned portico monumentality, thanks to it the force of surrounding building complexes such as the University or the armory can withstand. The Roman fortification served as a model for him: "The plan of this building, which is completely exposed all around, is roughly modeled on a Roman castrum, hence the four more solid corner towers and the inner courtyard [...]". The chief civil engineer in the construction of the Neue Wache was the Schinkel student and later Mecklenburg-Strelitzer court architect Friedrich Wilhelm Buttel .

Schinkel's sculpture program relates the Neue Wache to the Wars of Liberation . The gable relief of the portico shows a battle scene, which described the architect with the following words: "[...] a Victoria decides in the middle for the right fighting heroes, left is shown: last effort, encouragement to fight, flight, robbery and pain of Family awaiting their fate; on the right you can see overwhelming and mourning for a fallen hero. "

Johann Gottfried Schadow had modeled the free-plastic Victoria beneath it according to Schinkel's specifications and manufactured it using the lead casting process. Schinkel's design of the gable field could only be modeled, cast and attached by August Kiss with small changes in 1842-46 for financial reasons . The sculptural jewelry was made as a multi-part zinc casting and provided with a sandstone-imitating paint - a so-called "sanding" - to look like sandstone . The statues described below for the generals and reformers of the Wars of Liberation also belong in this context.

inner space

Since 1931, the interior, from which the architect Heinrich Tessenow had removed the interior walls and false ceilings, had been placed on a 1.67 meter high memorial stone made of black granite, an oak leaf wreath made of gold and silver leaves by the sculptor Ludwig Gies , which is now on display in the neighboring German Historical Museum is. Above it, the roof of the hall opened in a circle. In 1934, two wreaths were attached to the outer corner towers and a cross was attached to the inner rear wall.

On May 8, 1960, the 15th anniversary of the liberation , the party and state leadership of the GDR inaugurated the memorial for the victims of fascism and militarism, created by Heinz Mehlan as a monument . The cross was omitted in the design; the wreath had been in West Berlin since 1948 . On the 20th day of the Republic in 1969 there was another redesign based on a design by Lothar Kwasnitza . The light opening was closed and the granite block replaced an eternal flame in a glass prism. Before that, the remains of an unknown resistance fighter , an unknown concentration camp prisoner , and an unknown soldier were buried under two bronze plates . Under the resistance fighter's plate lay soil from nine concentration camps , and under that of the soldier from nine battlefields of the Second World War. On the back wall was the state coat of arms of the GDR .

In the interior of the building, which was largely reconstructed according to Tessenow's plans from 1931, there has also been a copy of the bronze sculpture Mother with Dead Son by Käthe Kollwitz , enlarged by Harald Haacke to around 1.6 meters at the suggestion of the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl , since 1993 Called Pietà . It depicts the artist and her son Peter , who died in the First World War . In front of the sculpture, the words “The victims of war and tyranny” are embedded in the floor. The urns with the remains of the unknown resistance fighter and the unknown soldier, as well as the earth-filled vessels, have since been located under the black granite memorial plaque .

Kohl's announcement that Käthe Kollwitz's Pietà should be chosen for the memorial sparked heated controversy. The Akademie der Künste , for example, called for “self-pitying dismay kitsch” to be avoided and for Tessenow's interior to be restored true to the original. At that time , Reinhart Koselleck questioned the appropriateness of the Kollwitz sculpture because it excluded both Jews and women, “the two largest groups of those innocently killed and perished in World War II”: “A double mistake with consequences that result from one therefore also an aesthetically secondary solution. The mistake of reasoning gives rise to aesthetic deformities. ” Wolf Jobst Siedler considered it an irony of history that Chancellor Kohl implemented an earlier proposal by the SED Politburo with the installation of a Kollwitz sculpture in the Neue Wache .

Still images

Bülow statue by Christian Daniel Rauch, 1822
Original location of the still images

Context and arrangement

The marble statues of Friedrich Wilhelm von Bülows (left) and Gerhard David von Scharnhorst (right) have been in front of the Neue Wache since 1822 and, since 1855, the bronze statues of Ludwig Yorck von Wartenburg (left), Gebhard Leberecht von Blüchers (center) and August Neidhardt von Gneisenaus (right). The statues created by Christian Daniel Rauch based on designs by Karl Friedrich Schinkel commemorate the most important generals and reformers of the Wars of Liberation . They are among the masterpieces of the Berlin School of Sculpture and were exceptional at the time in that they honored personalities from the middle classes in central Berlin. At the original location, Rauch's general statues made reference to one another, to Schadow's Victoria relief from the Neue Wache and to the groups of figures on the Schloßbrücke , which are also reminiscent of the Wars of Liberation. In addition, Rauch's statues of general were part of Schinkel's “Denkmalstrasse” Unter den Linden, which stretched from the palace to the Forum Fridericianum to the Brandenburg Gate . They also found their way into literature:

“To the right of the guard stood Scharnhorst with his hand raised to teach, to the left in the pose of calm Bülow, one hand on his hip, the other on his sword as if on a walking stick. The relationship between the figures on their pedestals and the Neue Wache, their distance from the building, was precisely calculated. It was also calculated that these two men were standing here, Scharnhorst, the revolutionary-minded peasant's son who had defeated Napoleon with the ideas of the revolution he betrayed, and Bülow, the victorious defender of Berlin, who saw the threat to the open city far outside, in brilliant field battles, had turned away from their gates. "

- Walther Kiaulehn : Berlin - fate of a cosmopolitan city

Distance and dislocation

On the occasion of the youth meeting in Germany in 1950, the statues were removed by order of Walter Ulbricht and stored in the depot of the Neues Museum . 1964 were bronze stills and marble standbild Scharnhorst in opposite Prinzessinnengarten restructured. In the process, not only were the original inscriptions on the bronze statues destroyed, but their base heights were also reduced and all grating removed.

In 1990 - during the GDR era - it was initially planned to set up the Prussian generals in their original locations. After German reunification, Eberhard Diepgen confirmed the return of the statues according to Schinkel's concept, "so that German history from the wars of liberation can be read again today". However, Helmut Kohl then agreed with Käthe Kollwitz's heirs that the marble statues should not return to the Neue Wache until the copyrights expired in 2015. Finally, they were stored in the depot of the Senate Department for Building and Living , restored and relocated in 2002 opposite the Neue Wache, where the bronze statues used to be.

Discussion about re-establishment

The current locations of the five statues violate Article 8 of the Venice Charter and are therefore criticized by monument experts. For historical and artistic reasons, the historian Christoph Stölzl is in favor of placing the marble statues of Bülow and Scharnhorst in front of the Neue Wache again. In addition, the bronze statues of Yorck, Blucher and Gneisenau were to return to the front of the boulevard Unter den Linden from exile in the back of the Prinzessinnengarten . Berlin's state curator a. Due to the contextual and artistic connections with the groups of sculptures on the Schloßbrücke , which are also reminiscent of the Wars of Liberation, D. Jörg Haspel is in favor of re-erecting the statues in front of the Neue Wache. Rauch's generals are also masterpieces from the Berlin sculpture school . The preservation of monuments is very keen to restore this globally unique ensemble. In addition, the former CDU culture expert Uwe Lehmann-Brauns, with reference to the return of the equestrian statue of Frederick the Great on Unter den Linden, advocates re- erecting the general statues in front of the Neue Wache. Scharnhorst was a "deserved reformer" who abolished corporal punishment in the Prussian army and introduced general conscription. Even Bulow was "not a militarist," but have defended Berlin three times against Napoleon and next motets composed.

Wolf Jobst Siedler criticized the misalignment of the statues by Christian Daniel Rauch due to the refusal of the grandchildren of Käthe Kollwitz during the time as the “ruin of a total work of art through good will”. He pointed out that Schinkel's Neue Wache with Schadow's Viktorien on the portico and Rauch's generals on the forecourt united the “triumvirate of architects and sculptors” that Prussia had at the “happiest moment in its history”. "The unity of Schinkel, Schadow and smoke - the incarnation of the classicism clotted Enlightenment  - is thus given up just because late grandson want that? Or because that's in keeping with the zeitgeist, the subsequent pacification of history? Or basically just because Berlin doesn't understand anything about itself anymore? The place will be destroyed where traces of why Berlin was at least one of the great cities of Europe at this point will be destroyed . ” Peter Bloch expressed double criticism of the incorrect placement of the statues in his standard work Die Berliner Bildhauerschule :“ On this historical manipulation Something else occurs: Since the statues by Scharnhorst and Bülow also refer to their function flanking the Neue Wache in their statuary structure - in the closed outline and the turning of the head towards the center - the isolation of Scharnhorst becomes one elsewhere artistic falsification . "

Arne Kollwitz, the grandson of Käthe Kollwitz, declares himself ready in the event that the castle is rebuilt, that the statues of Bülow and Scharnhorst will be put up again in front of the Neue Wache. In addition to the historian Laurenz Demps and the publicist Friedrich Dieckmann, this is also demanded by the Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin , the Forum Stadtbild Berlin and the Verein Berliner Historische Mitte . Ulbricht's censorship had to be reversed and the statues had to be put back in their original locations. The composition of Schinkel's buildings and Rauch's sculptures is world art, according to the association's chairwoman Annette Ahme. The State Monument Council has so far refused to allow the statues of Bülow and Scharnhorst to return to the Neue Wache.


The building inspired numerous contemporary architects to imitate it. The copies include the Alte Wache (1837–1839) by Schinkel's student Carl Scheppig on the market square in Sondershausen, Thuringia .


  • Memories of Kurt Reutti (1900–1967), a German sculptor and art collector L II. Die Neue Wache DFG-Viewer pp. 355-361
  • Laurenz Demps : The New Guard. Origin and history of a building. Military publishing house of the GDR, Berlin 1988, ISBN 978-3-327-00504-0 .
  • Christoph Stölzl (Ed.): The new guard on Unter den Linden. A German monument in the course of history . Koehler and Amelang, Munich 1993. ISBN 3-7338-0178-4 .
  • Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper : Schinkel's New Guard on Unter den Linden. A monument in Germany. In: Jörg Feßmann (Ed.): Dispute about the New Guard. To design a central memorial. Akademie der Künste , Berlin 1993, ISBN 3-88331-975-9 , pp. 35-44.
  • Michael Jeismann (Ed.): Memorial center. A controversy. DuMont, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-7701-4820-7 .
  • Wolfgang Kruse: Schinkel's New Guard in Berlin. On the history of the modern political cult of the dead in Germany. In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft 50 (2002), No. 5, pp. 419–435.
  • Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper: La Neue Wache (Nouvelle Maison de la Garde Royale) in Berlin. In: Les Temps Modernes - Revue bimenstrielle 58 (2003), No. 625 (Berlin mémoires), ISSN  0040-3075 , pp. 164-185.
  • Henry W. Pickford: Conflict and Commemoration: Two Berlin Memorials. In: Modernism / Modernity 12 (2005), No. 1, pp. 133–173 (compares the intention and design of the Neue Wache with the Holocaust memorial in the Bavarian Quarter in Schöneberg).
  • Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper: New Guard. In: Johannes Cramer, Ulrike Laible and Hans D. Nägelke (eds.): Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Guide to his buildings. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich, Berlin 2006, ISBN 978-3-422-06683-0 ( Karl Friedrich Schinkel . 1: Berlin and Potsdam), pp. 23-29.
  • Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper: Berlin - New Guard. New Guardhouse. In: Andreas Bernhard (Ed.): Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Guide to his buildings. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-422-06671-7 , pp. 25–31.
  • Laurenz Demps: The New Guard - From the Royal Guard House to the Central Memorial. Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86650-086-0 .

Web links

Commons : Neue Wache  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Laurenz Demps: Die Neue Wache: Origin and history of a building . Berlin 1988, ISBN 978-3-327-00504-0 , pp. 32 ff .
  2. a b Werner Heegewaldt, Oliver Sander: My fifty years of service life and literary work - I atone for my faith - Jewish memoirs , Vol. 3, Verlag Hentrich & Henrich. P. 12–15 ( contradicting current scientific knowledge )
  3. Klaus Jan Philipp: Around 1800: Theory of architecture and architecture criticism in Germany between 1790 and 1810. P. 23
  4. Kruse Political Remembrance Cultures Course Unit Editing: Wolfgang 2: Historical monuments and exhibitions on Germany's violent history in the 20th century: Developments and debates PDF preview p. 6
  5. Kurt Pomplun : Pomplun's Grosses Berlin Buch , Haude & Spenersche Verlagsbuchhandlung, Berlin 1985, p. 254
  6. Political culture of remembrance, editor Wolfgang Kruse, course unit 2, Faculty of Cultural and Social Sciences FernUniversität Hagen p. 8
  7. Laurenz Demps: Die Neue Wache: Origin and history of a building . Berlin 1988, ISBN 978-3-327-00504-0 , pp. 106 .
  8. Sights . In: Berliner Adreßbuch , 1934, after part 4, p. 2339.
  9. Laurenz Demps: Die Neue Wache: Origin and history of a building . Berlin 1988, ISBN 978-3-327-00504-0 , pp. 126 .
  10. ^ Franz Schulze, Edward Windhorst: Mies van der Rohe: A Critical Biography, New and Revised Edition . University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2012, ISBN 978-0-226-75600-4 , pp. 138 .
  11. Memories of Kurt Reutti (1900–1967), a German sculptor and art collector Secret State Archive Prussian Cultural Heritage Title VI. HA, Nl Reutti, K., No. 2: Kurt Reutti, memories. Vol. 2, pp. 252-496 DFGviewer p.355
  12. Facsimile of the declaration of February 10, 1949 in Demps (Lit.), p. 118, there also the rest.
  13. Contributions to the reconstruction of Berlin Azemina Bruch Selmanagić, free landscape architect Berliner Denkmaldialog on April 10, 2018 Selman Selmanagić a European biography Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung, Südhalle Selman Selmanagić after 1945 see lecture with pictures (3.5 MB) p. 11
  14. Berliner Kulturstätten Alfred Doil Brockhaus, 1981, 270 p . P. 111 (restricted view)
  15. [1]
  16. Laurenz Demps: The New Guard: From the royal guard house to the central memorial . Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86650-086-0 , pp. 55 .
  17. B erlin Neue Wache - Restoration of Victorias article on
  18. Laurenz Demps: Die Neue Wache: Origin and history of a building . Berlin 1988, ISBN 978-3-327-00504-0 , pp. 142 .
  19. ^ Pietà (mother with dead son), 1937–39 . At: Käthe Kollwitz Museum Cologne
  21. Reinhart Koselleck: Who can be forgotten? The Holocaust Memorial hierarchizes the victims. The wrong impatience . In: The time . March 19, 1998.
  22. a b Wolf Jobst Siedler: Where Prussia was most Prussian. In: Zeit Online , November 26, 1993.
  23. Peter Bloch, Waldemar Grzimek: The classic Berlin. The Berlin School of Sculpture in the nineteenth century. Propylaen Verlag, Berlin 1978, pp. 88-94.
  24. Jutta von Simson: Rauch, Christian Daniel. In: Neue Deutsche Biographie , Vol. 21. Duncker & Humblot Verlag, Berlin 2003, pp. 195–197.
  25. p. 77, CH Beck, Munich 1996, ISBN 978-3-406-41634-7 .
  26. ^ Karl Rodemann (ed.): The Berlin Palace and its downfall. A picture report on the destruction of Berlin's cultural monuments . Tauber, Berlin 1951, p. 66 f., With dated illus.
  29. Generals get on the pedestals. Retrieved January 14, 2018 .
  30. “Works of sculpture, painting or decorative equipment that are an integral part of a monument must not be separated from it; unless this measure is the only way to ensure their preservation. ” Article 8 of the Venice Charter
  31. Kollwitz heirs do not want to tolerate the statues of the Prussian generals in front of the Neue Wache - does the Pieta never come to rest? In: Berliner Zeitung , March 17, 1995
  32. Well housed. In: Der Spiegel 14/1995
  33. ^ Peter Bloch: The Berlin School of Sculpture in the Nineteenth Century - The Classic Berlin . Ed .: Waldemar Grzimek. Gebr. Mann Verlag, Berlin 1994, ISBN 978-3-7861-1767-4 , pp. 94 .
  34. Turning point in the dispute over the generals? In: Berliner Zeitung , March 25, 1995
  35. Laurenz Demps: The New Guard: From the royal guard house to the central memorial . Berlin 2011, ISBN 978-3-86650-086-0 , pp. 149 .
  36. Feenders: GHB-Newsletter No. 5 - 2018 - Gesellschaft Historisches Berlin e. V. Accessed on July 20, 2018 (German).
  37. ^ Forum Stadtbild Berlin: Activities from June 13, 2017
  38. Dispute over the Prussian generals in front of the Neue Wache . ( [accessed on July 20, 2018]).
  39. ^ Result minutes of the State Monument Council (LDR), meeting on October 6, 2017 .

Coordinates: 52 ° 31 '4.5 "  N , 13 ° 23' 44"  E