67 m high column with on top a gilded statue of Victory.
The foundation is decorated with four bronze reliefs showing the three wars and the victorious marching of the troops into Berlin. The Victory Column was an eye-sore to the French being the symbol of victory of France in the wars in the 1860s and 1870s. In May 1945 the French hoisted their flag to its top in celebration of their victory, dismantled three of the four frieze reliefs from the pedestal and removed them to Paris. The missing pieces were later covered by granite plates, and in the course of history the reliefs wre soon lost track of. In 1984 and 1987, on the occasion of Berlin's 750th year anniversary and as a sign of reconciliation between the two nations, the reliefs were ceremonially returned from Paris. They were reattached to the monument deliberately left in a fragmented state. The granite plates are now in the tunnels leading to the monument.
The reliefs showing the three wars and the victorious marching of the troops into Berlin:
- (west) The Second Schleswig War and the Battle of Düppel, 1864, by Alexander Calandrelli (1834-1903). The Column's constructor, Johann Heinrich Strack, is depicted on the far left holding a blueprint roll.
- (south) The German War at Königgrätz, 1866, by Moritz Schulz (1825-1904), showing King Wilhelm I awarding his son and heir Friedrich Wilhelm the medal 'Pour le mérite'. On the left edge, Saint John of Nepomuk symbolizes Bohemia as the theatre of war.
Signed: moriz schulz fec. 1872
- (east) The Franco-Prussian War at Sedan and Paris, 1870/71, by Karl Keil (1838-89). It depicts the surrender of France's capitulation documents to Wilhelm I, and the German troups marching into Paris.
Signed: C. Keil | fec. 1872 - Gegossen von H. Gladenbeck Berlin 1873.
- (north) the victorious marching of the troops into Berlin, by Albert Wolff (1814-92).
Signed: albert wolff fec. 1872 - hannoversches guss u. walz-werk. - c. bernstorff u. eichwede fud. 187-
Designed by Heinrich Strack after 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian War, by the time it was inaugurated on 2 September 1873, Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71), giving the statue a new purpose. Different from the original plans, these later victories in the so-called unification wars inspired the addition of the bronze sculpture of Victoria, 8.3 metres high and weighing 35 tonnes, designed by Friedrich Drake.
The statue of Victory is a reconstruction from 1954.
The relief decoration was removed at the request of the French forces in 1945, probably to prevent Germans from being reminded of former victories, especially the defeat of the French in 1871. It was restored for the 750th anniversary of Berlin in 1987 by the French president at that time, François Mitterrand. However, several sections remain in France.
The moder for the figure of Victory was Margarethe, the daughter of the sculptor Friedrich Drake.
The Victory Column and the statues of Bismarck, Roon and Moltke originally stood in Königsplatz (now Platz der Republik), at the end of the Siegesallee (Victory Avenue). As part of the preparation of the monumental plans to redesign Berlin into Welthauptstadt Germania, in 1939, the Nazis relocated the column and the statues to their present site at the Großer Stern (Great Star), a large intersection on the city axis that leads from the former Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace) through the Brandenburg Gate to the western parts of the city.
- Alexander Calandrelli (Berlin 1834 - Lankwitz 1903),
German sculptor of Italian descent
- Friedrich Drake (Bad Pyrmont 1805-Berlin 1882), German sculptor (Wikipedia).
- Karl Keil (1838 - 1889),
- Moritz Schulz (Leobschütz, Upper Silesia 1825 - 1904),
- Albert Wolff (Neustrelitz 1814 - Berlin 1892),
Sources & Information
Location (N 52°30'52" - E 13°21'0")
Item Code: debe053; Photograph: 10 August 2013
Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
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© Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt