Victory Column (Berlin)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Victory Column
View of the Victory Column from the west

View of the Victory Column from the west

place Berlin
builder Heinrich Strack
Construction year 1864-1873
height 67 m
Coordinates 52 ° 30 ′ 52 ″  N , 13 ° 21 ′ 0 ″  E Coordinates: 52 ° 30 ′ 52 ″  N , 13 ° 21 ′ 0 ″  E

The Victory Column on the Great Star in the Great Tiergarten is one of the most important sights in Berlin and the most important national monuments in Germany . Originally built on Königsplatz by Heinrich Strack in the years 1864–1873 to commemorate the Wars of Unification , it was moved to its current location in 1938–1939 together with the monuments to Bismarck , Roons and Moltke . The crowning Victoria by Friedrich Drake is called "Goldelse" in Berlin vernacular .

Reason for edification

Construction of the victory column on Königsplatz , photo by Hermann Rückwardt , 1873
Victory Column on Königsplatz in the center of this plan from 1879

In 1864, after the German-Danish War, the Prussian King Wilhelm I suggested the setting of monuments on the battlefields as well as in Berlin. He entrusted the court building officer Heinrich Strack with the implementation of all projects. In 1867, funds totaling 330,000 thalers were approved for this. After about two years of construction, 38,652 and 33,300 thaler respectively had accrued for the Düppel and Arnkiel memorials . This left only 258,000 thalers for the Victory Column in Berlin. Within a few years, two more victorious wars followed, the German War against Austria in 1866 and the Franco-German War from 1870–1871 . The three segments of the Victory Column and the crowning bronze sculpture of Victoria were meant to commemorate the victories. The monument was 60.5 meters high.

Dedicated to the Victory Column in celebration of was Sedan Day on September 2, 1873 the third anniversary of the victorious Battle of Sedan .

In 1938–1939 the column was moved 1.6 kilometers west of Königsplatz to its current location, the Großer Stern, and a fourth column drum increased it to its current size.


View of the Victory Column in its original form, around 1900

The Victory Column stands in the middle of the busy Großer Stern and can be reached to the west and east via T-shaped pedestrian tunnels below the roadway. Four neoclassical gatehouses to the north and south of Straße des 17. Juni provide access to these tunnels. The plans for this come from Johannes Huntemüller.

The victory column consists of a base clad with polished red granite and four column drums made of Obernkirchen sandstone that taper towards the top . In its fluting , it carries 60 gold-plated cannon barrels captured in the three wars in the lower three drums . The column shaft above the columned hall was raised by a fourth column drum below as part of the implementation of the monument in 1938–1939. The cannon barrels were each moved down by a column drum, with the now free fluting of the top column drum being given gold-plated laurel hangings.

Inside, a spiral staircase with 285 steps leads to the 50.66 meter high viewing platform. From there you have a good view of the Great Zoo, Potsdamer Platz , the Brandenburg Gate and the surrounding city area. The total height of the Victory Column including the statue is 67 meters. The green area around the Victory Column is 34  m above sea level. NHN .

On the base there is a circular columned hall with a glass mosaic on the back wall. It was made by the Venetian company Antonio Salviati in 1876 from a cardboard box created by Anton von Werner . At the inauguration, only the box was attached. As requested by Wilhelm I , the picture shows the unification of the empire as a result of the victory over France .

The crowning Victoria

Viktoria , known locally as "Goldelse" in
Berlin , 2006

The column carries a bronze sculpture created by Friedrich Drake in the form of a female figure, Victoria . In her right hand she holds up a laurel wreath and in her left hand a standard with the Iron Cross . Her helmet is adorned with eagle wings. Victoria is in Roman mythology known as the goddess of victory, it corresponds in the Greek mythology of Nike . Both are shown winged. Her eagle helmet makes the Victoria appear on the victory column as Borussia , the personification of Prussia .

Friedrich Drake designed the figure after the features of Victoria of Great Britain and Ireland , who at the time was Crown Princess in Prussia. The 8.32 meter high and 35 ton heavy bronze figure was made by the Berlin sculptor Hermann Gladenbeck . It was restored in 1954 and re-gilded by the Hermann Noack art foundry in Friedenau . In 1989 and 2011 it was restored again.

At its original location on Königsplatz , Viktoria looked south towards Siegesallee , and since its implementation in 1939 it has looked west towards Ernst-Reuter-Platz . It came to be called "Goldelse" because of its gilding and the title of the novel Goldelse by E. Marlitt , which the journal Die Gartenlaube published in 1866 as a popular sequel.

The reliefs on the base

Southern relief with dedication, 1933
Base without reliefs, 1946

The base is decorated with four bronze reliefs depicting the three Wars of Unification and the victorious entry of the troops into Berlin in 1871, in detail: Exodus to the Danish campaign and storming of the Düppeler Schanzen by the sculptor Alexander Calandrelli , Battle of Königgrätz and incidents of German War by Moritz Schulz , Franco-German War with battle of Sedan and entry into Paris by Karl Keil and finally entry of troops into Berlin by Albert Wolff . Above this relief, now mounted in a northerly direction, was the dedication “The grateful fatherland to the victorious army” , which was removed after the Second World War . The traces of attachment of the dedication can still be seen today.

In 1945 the reliefs were removed at the request of the French occupying forces . While the relief on the German War remained in the Spandau Citadel , the other three were initially thought to be lost. Investigations by the Foreign Office revealed that they were camped in the courtyard of the Musée de l'Armée in Paris. For the return, France initially requested an exchange with the painting Napoleon's Passage over the Alps , which the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation refused. After President François Mitterrand returned the reliefs during a visit to West Berlin in May 1987 on the occasion of Berlin's 750th anniversary , all four were put back in place after a restoration in the anniversary year 1987. The reliefs on the south and west side of the base are only preserved in fragments.

The relief excerpt from the Danish campaign and assault on the Düppeler Schanzen von Calandrelli on the west side of the base refers to the German-Danish War of 1864 (according to Meyer's lexicon : "the best of the four reliefs"). Some of the figures in the relief can be identified as historical persons: Partial view 1, group at the top left: Ferdinand Heinrich August Knerk (state official), Johann Heinrich Strack (architect), Heinrich Ludwig Alexander Herrmann (technical management) - they were responsible for the construction of the Victory Column . To the right of the preacher Wilhelm Hoffmann . Partial view 3, center: Major General Eduard von Raven , he died after being wounded while storming the Düppelner Schanzen. Partial view 4, bottom left: Pioneer Lieutenant Lommatzsch fell as a standard bearer during the attack.


Victory Column at its original location in front of the Reichstag building , around 1900
View over the entire complex at the Großer Stern, behind it Bellevue Palace
View from the visitor platform in east direction
Siegesallee with Victory Column , painting by Lesser Ury , 1925

The column was erected on Königsplatz until 1873 . The place lined the north, the General Staff building , the west, the Kroll Opera House and in the east the gallery building Palais Raczyński that in the 1880s the Reichstag building had to make way. Immediately before the inauguration of the column, a 750-meter-long avenue was laid out as a line of sight south through the zoo to Kemperplatz . The Kemperplatz received the Wrangel fountain in 1877 , which was replaced by the Roland fountain in 1902 . The avenue was Wilhelm II. From 1895 to Siegesallee expand.

In the course of the transformation of Berlin into the " World Capital Germania ", which began during the National Socialist era , the column was moved to the Great Star by the construction company Philipp Holzmann in 1938–1939, on behalf of the General Building Inspector for the Reich capital Albert Speer , whose diameter was from 80 to 200 Meter was enlarged. In order to reinforce the urban development effect of the monument as part of the east-west axis and to achieve an appropriate size ratio to the square diameter, the base was widened by 6.5 meters and the column was raised by 6.5 meters with a fourth drum. Another increase of around one meter was created by raising the columned hall, which is concealed by the roof connection to the widened base. As a result of these changes, the monument reached its current height of around 67 meters. In addition, the base entrance was relocated from the north to the south side during the new installation. Together with the Victory Column, the monuments to Bismarck , Moltke and Roon were moved to the northern edge of the Great Star, which was to be understood as the forum of the Second Reich .

During the Second World War , the Victory Column survived the air raids and the Battle of Berlin largely undamaged. On the day of Berlin's surrender on May 2, 1945 , Polish soldiers hoisted the Polish flag on the Victory Column before marching off for Nauen . According to their own statements, they later regretted not having blown up the monument in ignorance of its significance. The Victory Column was a building that was erected before August 1, 1914. This date, the beginning of the First World War , was the cut-off date which, according to the Allied Control Council Directive No. 30 of May 1946, decided on the preservation or removal of "militaristic monuments". Nevertheless, the SED-dominated Magistrate Werner, appointed by the Soviet occupying forces, decided to demolish the Victory Column by August 1946. It could be delayed until the magistrate, democratically elected in October 1946, did not come back. On November 26, 1946, the French occupying forces requested the Allied Commandatura to demolish the Victory Column. The British and the Americans refused, and the Soviet representatives abstained. The slightly damaged bronze plaques, which commemorated the wars against France and Denmark, as well as the relief depicting the triumphal procession in Berlin were brought to Paris . They only came back for the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987 and were put back on the base in a deliberately fragmentary state, together with the relief about the German war that had remained in Berlin in 1945, which had been stored in the Spandau Citadel for years . In 1989 the renovation of the Victory Column was completed.

On January 15, 1991, the Revolutionary Cells carried out an explosive attack on the Victory Column. The partial explosion of an explosive device weighing at least two kilograms on the viewing platform only damaged one support of the Victoria. People were not injured because no one was on the observation deck at the time of the explosion. The viewing platform was closed to visitors for ten months during the repair work.

In the years that followed, the Victory Column was the focus of major events such as the Love Parade , Christopher Street Day , demonstrations and the venue for politicians. On July 24, 2008, as part of the presidential election campaign in the United States, then-candidate Barack Obama gave a speech in front of the Victory Column in front of an audience of more than 200,000.

The Victory Column was extensively renovated between March 2010 and May 2011. As part of the renovation measures, the Viktoria and other components were re-gilded with 1.2 kg of gold leaf . In addition, the two pedestrian tunnels and the surrounding gatehouses from 1939, the bronze reliefs, the glass mosaic, the gilded cannon barrels, the staircase as well as the sandstone column and the Victoria itself were extensively renovated. It shows a new lighting concept at night with an illuminated circular hall and reliefs. After reopening, it has again been accessible to visitors for a fee since May 21, 2011, and still only via steps. Bilingual information boards on the history of the monument have been set up at the four gatehouses since October 2011. In the pedestrian tunnels are the granite panels that closed the relief fields until 1987, as well as an interactive light installation.

Street of the Monuments

Since 2008 the Victory Column has belonged to the Street of Monuments , a network of German monuments and places of remembrance founded on the initiative of the Leipzig City History Museum . The aim of the network is to "network the places of remembrance as former focal points of the past more closely and to make them more tangible as a whole through joint marketing measures."

Similar monuments

See also


  • Reinhard Alings: The Berlin Victory Column . Parthas Verlag, 2000, ISBN 3-932529-71-5 .
  • Matthias Braun: The Victory Column . Berlin Edition, Berlin 2000, ISBN 3-8148-0026-5 .
  • Alexander Markschies: The Victory Column. Berlin 2001, ISBN 3-7861-2381-0 .
  • Dieter Vorsteher , Silke Bittkow: Victory Column Berlin. Monuments tell history. Monument Tales, Berlin 2007.

Web links

Commons : Berlin Victory Column  - Album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Victory Column
  2. Siegessäule , at:
  3. Reinhard Alings: Monument and Nation: The Image of the Nation State in the Medium Monument - on the Relationship between Nation and State in the German Empire 1871–1918 (Contributions to the History of Communication, Volume 4), De Gruyter; May 13, 1996, ISBN 3-11-014985-0 , pp. 89-91
  4. From bottom to top in chronological order: 1864 Danish, 1866 Austrian and 1870 French. Victoria's new clothes. In: Der Tagesspiegel , February 16, 2010
  5. Andreas Krause: The exhibition and ceremony give the "Kaiserin Friedrich" a questionable shine. ( Memento of the original from April 23, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. In: Berliner Zeitung , August 8, 2001
  6. Berlin and its buildings , 1896, II./III. Hochbau, p. 42 (Ed. Vereinigg. Berliner Architekten, in several volumes) accessed January 18, 2020; u. a. such as B. City of Berlin
  7. Big star with victory column, monuments and gatehouses. At:
  8. Albert Speer: Memories . 11th edition. Berlin 1970, p. 154 .
  9. ^ Edward Kmiecik: Berlin Victoria . Ruch, o. O. [Warsaw] 1972, pp. 59, 66.
  10. ^ On the demolition decision in 1946: Berlin. Struggle for freedom and self-government 1945–1946 . Published on behalf of the Berlin Senate, Heinz Spitzing Verlag, Berlin, 1961, pp. 436, 442.
  11. Reinhard Alings: The Berlin Victory Column . Parthas, Berlin 1990, p. 41
  12. Tagesschau report on Barack Obama's speech on July 24, 2008 ( archive)
  13. Video: Obama's Berlin speech on Spiegel TV
  14. Victory Column covered for renovation from March ( Memento from March 6, 2010 in the Internet Archive )
  15. Victory Column opens to visitors again