Victory Column in Berlin
The Victory Column was erected as a symbol of triumph in the unifying Prussian wars against Denmark, Austria, and then France in the second half of the 19th century. The author of the project was the architect Heinrich Strack (Heinrich Strack).
The official opening ceremony of the Victory Column took place in 1873, while it was exactly timed to coincide with the third anniversary of the victory in the battle of the French Sedan, September 2. The opening ceremony was attended personally by Kaiser Wilhelm I and Otto von Bismarck.
The Victory Column was mounted on a pedestal made of red granite, initially it consisted of three parts, and instead of decorations, gilded trophy guns crowned with gilded laurel wreaths were used: Danish on the lower, Austrian on the middle, and French on the top.
The crown of the winners is crowned by the gilded figure of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory, respectively. Victoria holds in her hands a laurel wreath and a rod with a symbol of military prowess – an iron cross, on her head – a helmet with eagle wings. The author of the sculpture is Friedrich Drack. People call the goddess simply – “Golden Elsa” (“Goldеlse”). Such a nickname has taken root since the publication of the novel of the same name in the periodical Die Gartenlaube by the novel E. Marlitt.
The sculpture of the goddess Victoria, erected on top of the Victory Column, has impressive dimensions – 8.3 meters high, weight – 35 tons.
Victory Column is located in the heart of Berlin’s huge Tiergarten park, once the hunting ground of the electors and, later, the kings of Prussia. Großer Stern Square, which is translated from German as the Big Star, in the center of which stands the Victory Column, was founded in the 18th century as a center for crossing hunting roads.
Victory Column came here during the Third Reich. As part of Hitler’s restructuring of Berlin in the “capital of the world Germany” the column was moved here from the Royal Square in front of the Reichstag. At the same time, the fourth knee was added to the Victory column and its height was 66, 89 meters. The Großer Stern square was expanded to a network of meters, in combination with the monuments Bismarck, Moltke and Roon transferred here, it was to be the square of honor of the Second Reich.
Four tunnels were laid to the Victory Column. On them, today you can cross the area, always full of rushing cars. At the foot of the Victory Column there is an entrance to the observation platform. Before enjoying a beautiful view of the city, Tiergarten park, Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz from a height of 50.66 meters, 285 steps have to be overcome on foot.
On the second floor of the Victory Column pedestal there is a circular gallery with granite columns, the reverse side of which is decorated, at the request of Kaiser Wilhelm I, with a mosaic panel by Anton von Werner on the theme of the victorious march of the German army and the unification of Germany as a result of the victory over France. The mosaic is made of Venetian glass workshop Antonio Salviati.
The pedestal of the Victory Column is decorated with four bronze reliefs that visually represent the battle scenes during the unification of the Danish, Austrian and French wars, made by sculptors Karl Kale, Moritz Schulz, Albert Wolf and Alexander Caladrelli.
After the end of World War II, the participants in the anti-Hitler coalition decided to destroy all the monuments associated with German militarism and erected in the period from 1914 to 1945. Concerning the Victory column, opinions were divided. Formally, the monument was erected before the outbreak of World War I. But they worked on it, and finished building, already under the Nazi regime. In addition, the victory of German weapons, which is celebrated by the column, then carried a particularly negative meaning. France favored the demolition of the Victory Column, Russia abstained, England and America agreed to leave the Victory Column in place. All that the French could do was remove the bas-reliefs on the pedestal of the column and take it away in an unknown direction.
For a long time, three bas-reliefs were considered lost until they were discovered many years later by representatives of the German Foreign Ministry in the courtyard of the Army Museum in Paris. After long negotiations, with the personal participation of French President Francois Mitterrand, for the 750th anniversary of the 1987 1987 Berlin, the reliefs were solemnly hoisted to their former place.
Once again, the Victory Column was at the center of all the news in January 1991, when the terrorist organization Revolutionary Cells detonated at the base of the Victory statue. Fortunately, there were no casualties, only the support of the sculpture suffered.