32 marble groups of figures & a concrete Louise

Queen Louise of Prussia looks a bit sad. Standing there, her husband Fredrick William III in the back and Old Fritz to her right, she already seems to have a suspicion. Maybe a forthcoming farewell. Because the beautiful marble statue will soon have to leave the supplies depot of the Spandau Citadel and return to her traditional location in Berlin’s Tiergarten. For the moment there are still concrete copies of the Prussian couple there. Louise will be replaced and here weathered double will be transported to the original of William in Spandau.

“The only exciting thing about this swap is probably the contrast that the two will then display: he in a bright marble look, she with a crumbling concrete nose”. That’s what I think during my guided tour of the Spandau Citadel. From 2014 onwards the works of art can be seen again in the exhibition “unveiled. Berlin and its Monuments”. The exhibition will also show statues which were no longer suitable after a change in government and were removed from the cityscape. Some were buried, others were locked away.

Some of the future exhibits are already waiting behind the scenes of the Citadel for their comeback. For instance, the remaining figures of the former Siegesallee (Victory Avenue) in Tiergarten. 32 groups of monuments were donated by Emperor William II to the citizens of Berlin in 1895. Now I stand between the remains of his marble gallery of ancestors. The up to six metre high statues are partly deprived of arms and head. One has even lost its face. Although they are conserved, they are not reconstructed. Their dilapidation is to be part of the exhibition.

Do you want Lenin’s head…

However, “unveiled” is not only restricted to Imperial times. Monuments from the Nazi dictatorship are likewise shown, including “The Decathlete” by artist Arno Breker. The athletic man is currently still shown in the House of Sports on the Olympic grounds. A major work of GDR art is likewise to come to Berlin’s west. A 19 metre high Lenin monument stood on today’s United Nations square. The work made of red granite was disassembled in 1991 and buried in the Köpenicker Forst. Now the organisers of the exhibition try to get at least the approximately 3.5 tonne heavy head to Spandau.

At the Citadel they will all be reunited until 2014: emperors and communists, kings and strongmen. What used to be an expression of power and propaganda will then only be a silent witness to bygone days. I somewhat like this idea…

Author: Susan Steudtemann

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