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War Commemoration and the Republic in Crisis: Weimar Germany and the Neue Wache

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 December 2008

Sean A. Forner
University of Chicago


“Our dead are above the petty quarreling and the wretched, empty phrases that we cherish. A deep remembrance of our fallen brethren can only strengthen the will to reconcile differences and awaken the spirit that one of their number once expressed in this fashion: ‘Germany must live, even if we must die.”’ Thus a conservative nationalist representative to the Reichstag in Berlin addressed his colleagues in March 1927. His words reflect several notions current in Weimar Germany. They voice a call, still impassioned eight years after the armistice, for commemoration of the war dead, and they register a frustration with the contentious fragmentation of contemporary political culture, so dissonant with the image of soldiers unified in selfless sacrifice for the German fatherland. Finally, these words articulate the widespread sense that it was in the memory of the fallen of the Great War and in the emulation of their heroic sacrifice that Germans could find the bond to unify them as a people during the postwar period.

Copyright © Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association 2002

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1. Verhandlungen des Reichstags, 3d Wahlperiode 1924, vol. 392, 18 March 1927 (Berlin, 1927), 9682. The reference, made by Ernst Martin of the German National People's Party (DNVP), was to a well-known line penned by German war poet Heinrich Lersch in the autumn of 1914; see Lersch, Heinrich, “Soldatenabschied,” in Herz! Aufglühe dein Blut: Gedichte im Kriege (Jena, 1916), 1415.Google Scholar

2. Much of the literature on the Neue Wache during this period has been prompted by interest in later memorial functions of the building, under the GDR and especially after its most recent reinstailation under Helmut Kohl in 1993; see, e.g., the helpful overview by Tietz, Jürgen, “Schinkels Neue Wache Unter den Linden: Baugeschichte 1816–1993,” in Die Neue Wache Unter den Linden: Ein deutsches Denkmal im Wandel der Geschichte, ed. Stölzl, Christoph (Berlin, 1993), 993.Google Scholar English-language literature addresses the Weimar history of the site only in passing; see Koshar, Rudy, Germany's Transient Pasts: Preservation and National Memory in the Twentieth Century (Chapel Hill, 1998), 138–39Google Scholar; Ladd, Brian, The Ghosts of Berlin: Confronting German History in the Urban Landscape (Chicago, 1997), 217–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Mosse, George L., Fallen Soldiers: Reshaping the Memory of the World Wars (New York, 1990), 9798.Google Scholar For a history of the site from a GDR perspective, see Demps, Laurenz, Die Neue Wache: Entstehung und Geschichte eines Bauwerks (Berlin, 1988).Google Scholar

3. Eksteins, Modris, Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age (New York, 1989), 253–54.Google Scholar

4. Peukert, Detlev J. K., The Weimar Republic: The Crisis of Classical Modernity, trans. Deveson, Richard (New York, 1993). Peukert's account of the Weimar period is valuable for his emphasis on the depth of its crises, both actual and perceived, as well as the contingency of its outcomes.Google Scholar

5. A consciousness of crisis that destabilizes group identity can serve as an impetus to memorial construction; Wolfgang Hardtwig has argued along such lines for the Kaiserreich in his “Bürgertum, Staatssymbolik und Staatsbewusstsein im Deutschen Kaiserreich, 1871–1914,” in his Geschichtskultur und Wissenschaft (Munich, 1990), 245–68.

6. Winter, Jay, Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History (New York, 1995), here 93.Google Scholar

7. Mosse, , Fallen Soldiers, here 7.Google Scholar

8. Koselleck, Reinhart, “Kriegerdenkmale als Identitätsstiftungen der Überlebenden,” in Identität, ed. Marquand, Odo and Stierle, Karlheinz (Munich, 1979), 256, 262.Google Scholar

9. The key texts are Freud, Sigmund, “Mourning and Melancholia,” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, vol. 14, ed. Strachey, James (London, 1957), 243–58Google Scholar and idem, “Remembering, Repearing, and Working-Through,” in Standard Edition, vol. 12, ed. Strachey, (London, 1958), 147–56.Google Scholar

10. See, e.g., Jeismann, Michael and Westheider, Rolf, “Wofür stirbt der Bürger? Nationaler Totenkult und Staatsbürgertum in Deutschland und Frankreich seit der Französischen Revolution,” in Der Politische Totenkult: Kriegerdenkmäler in der Moderne, ed. Koselleck, Reinhart and Jeismann, (Munich, 1994), 2350.Google Scholar Mosse underscores such German particularities as well; Mosse, , Fallen Soldiers, 102–5.Google Scholar

11. On the importance of the memory of the Wars of Liberation as a moment of unity for the construction of the “national cult,” see Mosse, , The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars through the Third Reich (Ithaca, 1975), 17.Google Scholar

12. For the following, see Dronke, Wolfgang, “Die Neue Wache in Berlin” (Doktor-Ingenieur diss., Technische Hochschule Berlin, 1931).Google Scholar On the nineteenth-century history of the site and its character as a monument, see also Tietz, , “Schinkels Neue Wache,” 1021.Google Scholar

13. The words are those of Christian Daniel Rauch, the artist commissioned by Schinkel at the outset of the project to create the sculptures; cited in Dronke, , “Die Neue Wache,” 37.Google Scholar

14. Ibid., 21.

15. Narrowly construed, this term refers to the area of Unter den Linden in the immediate vicinity of the Neue Wache. Understood as Berlin's premiere site of state self-representation, it must be extended to include the Brandenburg Gate and the royal palace. See Engel, Helmut and Ribbe, Wolfgang, eds. Via Triumphalis: Geschichtslandschaft “Unter den Linden” zwischen Friedrich-Denkmal und Schlossbrücke (Berlin, 1997).Google Scholar

16. On the early history of the Brandenburg Gate, see Ladd, , Ghosts of Berlin, 7275. The Iron Cross was Prussia's newly commissioned war decoration, recently designed by Schinkel.Google Scholar

17. Redslob, Edwin, “Denkschrift zu der Frage des Reichsehrenmales,” 15 02 1926, Bundesarchiv Berlin (hereafter BA) R32/353 Reichskunstwart, 101–4.Google Scholar

18. Hegemann, Werner, “Schinkel und das Reichsehrenmal,” Die Neue Rundschau 42, no. 4 (1931): 540.Google Scholar

19. Bergmann, Ernst, “Diese Toten sind ja nicht tot!,” in Deutscher Ehrenhain für die Helden von 1914/18 (Leipzig, 1931), 8.Google Scholar

20. Ebhardt, Bodo, “Der Stand der Reichsehrenmalfrage,” Deutsche Bauzeitung 62, no. 91 (1928): 775.Google Scholar

21. Inglis, K. S., “Entombing Unknown Soldiers: From London and Paris to Baghdad,” History and Memory 5, no.2 (1993):7.Google Scholar On the Tombs of the Unknown Soldier, see also Mosse, , Fallen Soldiers, 9497. Mosse's assertion that in 1931 the Neue Wache housed a tomb of the unknown soldier is incorrect.Google Scholar

22. Redslob, “Zusammenstellung,” November 1925, BA R32/353 Reichskunstwart, 66. Schottmüller's proposal centered on a pietà, the Christian iconographic image of the Virgin Mary mourning the dead body of Jesus in her lap; Schottmüller, Frieda, “Ein Denkmal für die Kriegsgefallenen,” Der Kunstwanderer 6 (1924): 80.Google Scholar Such an image is the highly controversial current centerpiece of the Neue Wache memorial, since its 1993 reinstallation; see the contributions to Fessmann, Joerg, ed. Streit um die Neue Wache: Zur Gestaltung einer zentralen Gedenkstätte (Berlin, 1993)Google Scholar; Schmidt, Thomas E., Mittig, Hans-Ernst, and Böhm, Vera, eds. Nationaler Totenkult: Die Neue Wache: Eine Streitschrift zur Zentralen Deutschen Gedenkstätte (Berlin, 1995)Google Scholar; Stölzl, , ed. Die Neue Wache.Google Scholar

23. For a detailed account of the debates, see Lurz, Meinhold, Kriegerdenkmäler in Deutschland, vol. 4, Weimarer Republik (Heidelberg, 1985), 4785.Google Scholar

24. Ibid., 50–51.

25. “Gedenktafeln und andere Kriegerehrenmale,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 40, no. 102 (1920): 638.

26. On the level of high politics, only the German Communist Party (KPD) rejected the project from the outset. They opposed any expenditure for war decorations and monuments, insisting that such moneys would be better spent to alleviate the material suffering of the wounded and the survivors of the war dead. See, e.g., the speeches in Verhandlungen, 1st Wahlperiode 1920, vol. 353, 15 March 1922 (Berlin, 1922), 6268–73; Sitzungsberichte des Preussischen Landtags, 2d Wahlperiode 1925, vol. 10, 14 October 1926 (Berlin, 1927), cols. 14555–70.

27. “Für ein Ehrenmal!” Vossische Zeitung, 3 August 1924.

28. “Den Toten des Weltkrieges,” Berliner Tageblatt, 3 August 1924.

29. See, e.g., Stahl, Fritz, “Das Ehrenmal,” Berliner Tageblatt, 22 10 1924.Google Scholar

30. “Das Reichsehrenmal in Berlin? Die Neue Wache als Pantheon,” Berliner Tageblatt, 12 August 1926.

31. See the records of their meeting on 16 January 1926 in Kempner, Franz, “Betrifft: Errichtung eines Nationaldenkmals für die Gefallenen im Weltkrieg,” 19 01 1926, BA R43/I/713 Reichskanzlei, 140; “Niederschrift” BA R32/353 Reichskunstwart, 88–89.Google Scholar

32. On the veterans' organizations, see Berghahn, Volker R., Der Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten, 1918–1935 (Düsseldorf, 1966)Google Scholar; Chickering, Roger, “The Reichsbanner and the Weimar Republic, 1924–1926,” Journal of Modern History 40, no. 4 (1968): 524–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Diehl, James M., Paramilitary Politics in Weimar Germany (Bloomington, 1977)Google Scholar; Dunker, Ulrich, Der Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten, 1919–1938: Geschichte eines jüdischen Abwehrvereins (Düsseldorf, 1977)Google Scholar; Elliott, C.J., “The Kriegervereine and the Weimar Republic,” Jorunal of Contemporary History 10, no. 1 (1975): 109–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

33. Lurz, , Weimarer Republik, 5556Google Scholar; “Das Reichsehrenmal in Berlin?” On the centrality of heroes' groves in German Great War commemoration, see Mosse, , Fallen Soldiers, 8789.Google Scholar

34. See the records of their meeting on 11 March 1926 in Wilhelm Külz, “Niederschrift,” BA R32/353 Reichskunstwart 135–36; Kempner, “Niederschrift,” BA R43/I/713 Reichskanzlei, 166–67. The unity of the veterans' organizations is indeed striking, given the antagonism between the increasingly antirepublican and anti-Semitic Stahlhelm and the republican Reichsbanner and Jewish Reichsbund.

35. Verhandlungen des Reichstags, 3d Wahlperiode 1924, vol. 392, 19 March 1927 (Berlin, 1927), 9714.

36. Lampmann, Gustav, “Wettbewerb Reichsehrenmal,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 52, no. 30 (1932): 349.Google Scholar

37. “Mündlicher Bericht des 19. Ausschusses (Besetzte Gebiete),” Verhandlungen, 4th Wahlperiode 1928, vol. 433, 4 December 1928 (Berlin, 1928), Anlage 654; Verhandlungen, 4th Wahlperiode 1928, vol. 423, 15 December 1928 (Berlin, 1929), 819; “Übersicht der Entschliessungen des Reichstags nebst Beantwortungen der Reichsregierung,” Verhandlungen, 4th Wahlperiode 1928, vol. 436, 3 June 1929 (Berlin, 1929), Anlage 1093, 12.

38. Lurz, , Weimarer Republik, 6162.Google Scholar

39. See ibid., 70–85. It is noteworthy that the Tannenberg memorial, dedicated in 1927 to Hindenburg's 1914 military victory, never came into serious consideration as the Reichsehrenmal during the Weimar period. It was largely an affair of the antirepublican right-nationalist patriotic associations (vaterländische Verbände); the Reich and Prussian governments refused to support its construction financially, and key republicans like Otto Braun and Carl Severing declined to appear at its dedication. It would seem that its rather antidemocratic, revanchist, and militarist character rendered it unsuitable for republican war commemoration. See Wippermann, Wolfgang, “Die Geschichte des ‘Reichsehrenmals Tannenberg’:Ein historisches Lehrstück,” Niemandsland: Zeitschrift zwischen den Kulturen 1, no. 2 (1987): 5869.Google Scholar

40. “Wozu noch ‘Neue Wache’?” Der Montag Morgen, 1 September 1924.

41. “Das Reichsehrenmal in Berlin?”

42. Cited in Lurz, , Weimarer Republik, 56.Google Scholar

43. “Ausstellung ‘Kriegsgräberfürsorge’ in der Neuen Wache zu Berlin,” Kriegsgräberfürsorge 9, no. 11 (1929): 169–72. On the VDK, see Lurz, , Weimarer Republik, 101–6.Google Scholar

44. Cited in ibid., 172.

45. Friedrich, Paul, “Das Ehrenmal der Toten,” Berliner Börsen-Zeitung, 25 07 1930.Google Scholar

46. Braun to Ministers of State, 26 July 1929, Geheimes Staatsarchiv Preussischer Kulturbesitz (hereafter GStA) I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2387, 4; excerpts from cabinet meeting, 26 November 1929, GStA I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2387, 13. The article critical of the guardhouse's disuse that Braun distributed to his ministers was “Pietät oder Verschwendung?,” Deutsche Zeitung, 18 July 1929.

47. See Hermann Pünder to Interior Ministry and Defense Ministry, 29 November 1929, BA R43/I/716 Reichskanzlei, 5; idem to all Ministries and office of the president, 29 November 1929, BA R43/I/716 Reichskanzlei, 5.

48. Severing, to Braun, , 10 12 1929, BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 70–71.Google Scholar

49. “Betrifft: Reichsehrenmal,” 19 December 1929, BA R43/I/716 Reichskanzlei, 11–12. Represented were the chancellery and the interior, finance, and defense ministries.

50. Severing, to Braun, , 23 12 1929, BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 69; emphasis in original.Google Scholar

51. Correspondence from the culture minister suggests that Prussia's government was concerned that risking association with the embattled Reichsehrenmal project might delay or thwart their plans for a memorial altogether; see Becker, to Braun, , 13 01 1930, GStA I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2387, 19.Google Scholar

52. Behrendt, Walter Curt, “Eine Gedächtnisstätte für die Gefallenen des Weltkrieges: Zum Umbau der Neuen Wache in Berlin,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 50, no. 29 (1930): 513.Google Scholar

53. Verhandlungen, 4th Wahlperiode 1928, vol. 425, 11 June 1929 (Berlin, 1929), 2287.

54. See Orlow, Dietrich, Weimar Prussia 1925–1933: The Illusion of Strength (Pittsburgh, 1991). Orlow's account focuses on this conviction among Prussian statesmen. In the case of the Neue Wache project, some version thereof was evidently shared by important actors at the Reich level, not least Severing. It is no accident that Severing, interior minister of the Reich from 1928 to 1930, held that office in Prussia from 1920 to 1926 and again from 1930 to 1932.Google Scholar

55. Behrendt, , “Eine Gedächtnisstätte,” 513Google Scholar. For a detailed art-historical analysis of the proposals, see Tietz, , “Schinkels Neue Wache,” 2861.Google Scholar

56. Behrendt, , “Eine Gedächtnisstätte,” 518. Impaneled were Director Martin Kiessling and Councilor Walter Curt Behrendt of the architecture division of the Prussian finance ministry, Councilor Rudelius of the defense ministry, Reich Commissioner for art Edwin Redslob, Berlin City Architect Martin Wagner, Dresden Architecture Professor Wilhelm Kreis, Prussian Curator of Artistic and Cultural Monuments Robert Hiecke, Director of Prussian Museums Wilhelm Waetzoldt, and art publisher Karl Scheffler.Google Scholar

57. “Wettbewerbsprogramm,” BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 65–66.

58. For the proposals and the prize committee's evaluations, see Behrendt, , “Eine Gedächtnisstätte,” 513–18. This article, printed in a government publication, was the official release of the competition results; see architecture division of the Prussian finance ministry to Hegemann, 15 July 1931, GStA I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2387, 111. Thus, Behrendt was here voicing the majority judgment of the committee rather than merely his own.Google Scholar

59. For the definition, see Blunck, Erich, “Umgestaltung der Neuen Wache in Berlin zu einer Gedächtnisstätte der im Weltkrieg Gefallenen,” Deutsche Bauzeitung (Wettbewerbe) 64, no. 12 (1930): 81.Google Scholar

60. See the correspondence from the Prussian finance ministry to Redslob in BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 54–59.

61. “Niederschrift der Sitzung des Begutachtungsausschusses,” 15 July 1930, BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 33–35. Behrendt, Kreis, Rudelius, Scheffler, and Waetzoldt voted for Tessenow; Kiessling, Redslob, and Wagner for Mies; and Hiecke for Poelzig.

62. Kracauer, Siegfried, “Tessenow baut das Berliner Ehrenmal,” Frankfurter Zeitung, 22 07 1930.Google Scholar

63. “Tessenow baut das Gefallenen-Denkmal,” Berliner Tageblatt, 30 July 1930.

64. Summary reports of the public discussion diverged; some took public opinion to be generally critical of Tessenow, while others considered the majority of assessments to be favorable; see, e.g., “Der Auftrag an Tessenow,” BZ am Mittag, 31 July 1930; M. O., “Das Ehrenmal,” Vossische Zeitung, 30 July 1930.

65. See, e.g., “Die ‘Neue Wache’ als Ehrenmal,” Vorwärts, 7 August 1930; Dettmann, Ludwig, “Die Schinkelsche Wache als Ehrenmal,” Deutsche Tageszeitung, 23 07 1930; Friedrich, “Ehrenmal der Toten.”Google Scholar

66. See, e.g., “Vom Kampf um die Schinkel-Wache,” Deutsche Tageszeitung, 31 July 1930; Meunier, Ernst, “Das Ehrenmal,” Germania, 8 08 1930.Google Scholar

67. See, e.g., “Auftrag an Tessenow”; “Die Behörde, die ‘am schnellsten arbeitet’,” Kölner Tageblatt, 29 July 1930; “Ehrenmal auf dem Verordnungswege,” Neue Preussische Kreuz-Zeitung, 31 July 1930; “Die Schinkelsche Wache in Gefahr!” Deutsche Tageszeitung, 26 July 1930; O., “Ehrenmal”; Schmidt, Paul F., “Noch einmal das Berliner Ehrenmal,” Vorwärts (Der Abend), 1 08 1930Google Scholar; Schmidt, , “Die Baudiktatur,” Das Tagebuch, 9 08 1930Google Scholar; Stx., “Das Schicksal der Schinkel-Wache besiegelt,” Der Tag, 30 July 1930; Westheim, Paul, “Zeitlupe,” Das Kunstblatt 14 (1930): 282Google Scholar; Wgf., “Das Ehrenmal der Gefallenen,” Zentralblatt für das deutsche Baugewerbe 27, no. 15 (1930): 209.

68. Kiessling, Martin, “Preussische Staatsbauten 1931,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 52, no. 21/22 (1932), 243–44.Google Scholar The “concept of the state” Kiessling invoked is not the pluralist Kulturstaat of Weimar educational reformers but rather the cultural-interventionist Kulturstaat of the late nineteenth-century empire, which was concerned to assert and forge tighter bonds between the state and the nation through culture. See Peukert, , Weimar Republic, 143–45Google Scholar; Koshar, , Germany's Transient Pasts, 20.Google Scholar

69. Kiessling, , “Preussische Staatsbauten,” 244Google Scholar. Nor did cost seem to be an object in the execution of the Neue Wache project; the total expenditures of between 470,000 and 488,000 RM nearly doubled what was initially planned and allocated; see Dammeier, , “Die Neue Wache in Berlin als Gedächtnisstätte für die Gefallenen des Weltkrieges,” Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 52, no. 47 (1932): 558; “Neue Wache Berlin,” GStA PK I.HA, Rep. 151 IV 2388, 245.Google Scholar

70. The following account is drawn from: “Feierliche Einweihung des preussischen Ehrenmales,” Berliner Tageblatt, 2 June 1931; “Hindenburg weiht die Neue Wache zum Ehrenmal,” Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, 2 June 1931; “Für die Gefallenen des Weltkrieges,” Frankfurter Zeitung, 3 June 1931; “Das preussische Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen,” Kölnische Zeitung, 2 June 1931; “Denzwei Millionen im Weltkrieg Gefallenen,” Münchner Neueste Nachrichten, 3/4 June 1931; “Die Neue Wache als Ehrenmal,” Neue Preussische Kreuz-Zeitung, 2 June 1931; Schmidt, , “Otto Braun gedenkt der Kriegsopfer,” Vorwärts, 2 06 1931Google Scholar; “Die Feier in der Neuen Wache,” Vossische Zeitung, 2 June 1931. On the radio broadcast, see Prussian state ministry to Kiessling, 13 May 1931, GStA I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2388, 128.

71. The only prominent veterans' organization not to send a delegation was the by then deeply antirepublican and anti-Semitic Stahlhelm, which declined to participate because of the invitation of the Reichsbanner and the Reichsbund jüdischer Frontsoldaten, an indication of the depth of fragmentation beneath the ceremonial display of unity; “Feier in der Neuen Wache.”

72. Kracauer, , “Zur Einweihung des Berliner Ehrenmals,” Frankfurter Zeitung, 2 06 1931.Google Scholar

73. For the text of the speeches cited below, see the pamphlet, Den Gefallenen des Weltkrieges (Berlin, 1931). One or more of the speeches were reprinted in whole or in part in all the major daily newspapers cited in note 70; see the articles cited there — with the exception of “Feier in der Neuen Wache” — and also “Das Blutopfer der Millionen,” Vossische Zeitung, 2 June 1931.Google Scholar

74. Braun did proceed to assert that the memorial was on the “most Prussian site of all Prussia,” but in the specific context of refuting charges of the “neglect of tradition” cast against SPD-led Prussia by the political Right.

75. See, e.g., “Auftrag an Tessenow”; “Schinkel-Geist und Reichsehrenmal,” Pommersche Tagespost, 14 May 1931; Friedrich, “Ehrenmal der Toten”; Hegemann, , “Schinkels Neue Wache als Reichs-Ehrenmal,” Wasmuths Monatshefte Baukunst und Städtebau 14, no. 10 (1930): 440Google Scholar; idem, “Schinkel und das Reichsehrenmal”; Rubsch, Hugo, “Schinkelsche Wache als Ehrenmal,” Deutsche Tageszeitung, 23 07 1930.Google Scholar

76. See, e.g., Schmidt, , “Für die Opfer des Weltkrieges,” Vorwärts (Der Abend), 23 07 1930Google Scholar; Schmidt, , “Otto Braun”; Sch., “Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen des Weltkrieges in der Schinkelschen Hauptwache Berlin,” Deutsche Kunst und Dekoration 68, no. 4 (1931): 258–60. It is noteworthy that this position was prevalent in the republican, Social Democratic press.Google Scholar

77. This unity was a nondenominational Christian one. Although the Jewish veterans' organization was invited, there were no representatives of local or national Jewish communities involved in the ceremony, as was the case, for instance, at President Ebert's state funeral in 1925; see Ackermann, Volker, Nationale Totenfeiern in Deutschland: Von Wilhelm I. bis Franz Josef Strauss (Stuttgart, 1990), 52Google Scholar. The Christian valence of the discourse of sacrifice, transfiguration, and the transcendence of death is also unmistakable. Relatedly, Tessenow likened his own design to a chancel, “the high altar room in the Catholic Church”; Tessenow, to Dümke, Richard, 30 06 1931Google Scholar, BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 5. For the Christian character of war memorialization in general and in Germany in particular, see Koselleck, , “Kriegerdenkmale,” 259–60Google Scholar; Mosse, , Fallen Soldiers, 3235, 74–77.Google Scholar

78. Höpker-Aschoff, , “Geleitwort des Preussischen Finanzministers,” in Die Neue Wache als Gedächtnisstätte für die Gefallenen des Weltkrieges (Berlin, 1931), 5.Google Scholar

79. Den Gefallenen des Weltkrieges.

80. Braun, to Kiessling, , 26 08 1931, GStA I.HA, Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2388, 226.Google Scholar

81. On the struggle for preeminence among holidays in the political culture of the republic, see the contributions to Lehnert, Detlef and Megerle, Klaus, eds. Politische Identität und nationale Gedenktage: Zur politischen Kultur in der Weimarer Republik (Opladen, 1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

82. Severing, , Mein Lebensweg, vol. 2 (Cologne, 1950), 69.Google Scholar On subsequent Constitution Days and on Totensonntag, a day of commemoration of the fallen of the Great War that enjoyed semi-official status, the memorial was to be lit for special etfect; see Klepper, to Mooshake, , 31 12 1931Google Scholar, GStA 1. HA, Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2388, 251. Additionally, it was the site of a ceremony on the Volkstrauertag, which was privately organized but involved representatives of the Reich government; see Groener, to Braun, , 2 02 1932Google Scholar, and Braun, to Kiessling, , 16 02 1932, GStA I. HA, Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2388, 259.Google Scholar

83. Koselleck, , “Kriegerdenkmale,” 256.Google Scholar

84. This is the only side of the debate reflected in the secondary literature that addresses (in passing) the memorial and its popular reception. See Koshar, , Germany's Transient Pasts, 139Google Scholar; Mosse, , Fallen Soldiers, 98.Google Scholar

85. “Vom Votivraum der Gegenwart,” Deutsche Bauhütte 34 (1930): 252; , F. M., “Preussens Gefallenen-Ehrenmal,” Germania, 3 06 1931Google Scholar; “Warum werden die Umgestaltungsentwürfe der Neuen Wache noch gezeigt?,” Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, 1 August 1930.

86. Meier, Burkhard, “Die Neue Wache in Berlin,” Die Denkmalpflege 33, no. 4 (1931): 157–58Google Scholar; Klimsch, Fritz, “Achtung — Bildhauereil,” Berliner Tageblatt, 24 09 1930.Google Scholar

87. Interestingly, the committee clearly favored broadly modern proposals (Tessenow, Mies, Poelzig) over broadly traditional ones (Grube's historicist neoclassicism or Blunck's figurative sculpture).

88. P.,“Wettbewerb für ein Ehrenmal in Berlin,” Bauwelt 21, no.31 (1930): 986–87Google Scholar; see also, e.g., Westheim, , “Zeitlupe,” 282.Google Scholar

89. “Das Ehrenmal in Berlin,” Münchner Neueste Nachrichten, 2 June 1931; “Feier in der Neuen Wache”; Scheffler, Karl, “Das Ehrenmal,” Kunst und Künstler (1931): 339. Scheffler was, as we have seen, also a proponent of Mies on the judges' panel.Google Scholar

90. Sch., “Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen”; Schmidt, “Otto Braun.”

91. See, e.g., Donath, Adolph, “Das Gefallenen-Denkmal,” Berliner Tageblatt, 23 07 1930Google Scholar; idem, “Die Gedenkhalle,” Berliner Tageblatt, 2 June 1931; Schmidt, “Für die Opfer”; idem, “Baudiktatur”; idem, “Otto Braun.”

92. A report from late 1931 refers to a continued “lively visitation,” so much so in the evenings that lighting for the stairs outside was procured after one visitor fell in an “unusually powerful rush.” Mooshake, to Klepper, , 28 11 1931, GStA I. HA, Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2388, 247.Google Scholar

93. Kracauer was also a trained architect and had spent a few “unhappy years” in the profession, from 1915 to 1920; Frisby, David, Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Work of Simmel, Kracauer, and Benjamin (Cambridge, 1985), 111.Google Scholar

94. Kracauer, , “Das Berliner Ehrenmal: Vorläufige Bemerkungen,” Frankfurter Zeitung, 19 07 1930.Google Scholar

95. Kracauer, “Tessenow baut das Berliner Ehrenmal.”

96. Kracauer, “Zur Einweihung.” The nuances of Kracauer's statement, deriving from the double meaning of Raum as both “room” and “space,” are lost in translation.

97. Kracauer, “Tessenow baut das Berliner Ehrenmal.”

98. Martin Wagner, “Anlage 4,” BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 41–42.

99. Tessenow, “Erläuterungsbericht,” GStA I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2387, 216.

100. von Erffa, Hans Martin and Schoenen, Paul, “Eiche,” in Reallexikon zur Deutschen Kunstgeschichte, ed. Schmitt, Otto (Stuttgart, 1958), 917–19.Google Scholar On the centrality of the oak and the forest to Germany's “national cult,” see Mosse, , Nationalization of the Masses, 3435, 41. As mentioned above, when the quadriga returned from Paris in 1814, Schinkel replaced the laurel on Victory's staff with an oak wreath and the Iron Cross.Google Scholar

101. Dammeier, , “Neue Wache,” 553.Google Scholar

102. See, e.g., the hundreds of photos of war memorials in Deutscher Ehrenhain.

103. Drexler, Arthur, ed. The Mies van der Rohe Archive, vol. 3 (New York, 1986), 550.Google Scholar

104. Tessenow, “Erläuterungsbericht.”

105. Sch., “Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen,” 259. This evaluation was echoed in Schmidt, “Otto Braun” and Wgf., “Das Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen,” Zentralblatt für das deutsche Baugewerbe 28, no. 12/13 (1931):156.

106. Tessenow, to Höpker-Aschoff, , 17 06 1931, GStA I. HA Rep. 151 Finanzministerium IV 2388, 193.Google Scholar

107. Schulze, Franz, “War Memorial 1930,” in Mies van der Rohe Archive, vol. 3, ed. Drexler, 2. Again, the double meaning of Raum as both “room” and “space” is crucial.Google Scholar

108. Cited in Behrendt, , “Eine Gedächtnisstätte,” 516.Google Scholar

109. My thinking here is indebted to scholarship that uses Freud's framework to elucidate dynamics in the memory and representation of the Third Reich and the Holocaust. See Santner, Eric L., Stranded Objects: Mourning, Memory, and Film in Postwar Germany (Ithaca, 1990)Google Scholar; LaCapra, Dominick, Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma (Ithaca, 1994)Google Scholar; idem, History and Memory after Auschwitz (Ithaca, 1998).

110. Scharkowski, H. W., “Das Berliner Gefallenen-Ehrenmal,” Neue Preussische Kreuz-Zeitung, 25 07 1930Google Scholar; Sternaux, Ludwig, “Ehrenmal U. d. Linden,” Der Montag, 21 07 1930Google Scholar; von Sydow, Eckart, “Ehrenmal der Kriegsgefallenen,” Hannoverscher Kurier, 28 07 1930.Google Scholar

111. “Unser Toten-Ehrenmal,” Berliner Morgenpost, 23 July 1930; Behne, Adolf, “Das preussische Kriegermal,” Sozialistische Monatshefte 36, no. 72 (1930): 891–93.Google Scholar

112. Kreis, “Anlage 5,” BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 44–45; Scheffler, “Anlage 8,” BA R32/358 Reichskunstwart, 50–51.

113. At the time of the competition, a major daily remarked on the “extraordinary interest” of the public reflected in the many letters from readers addressing potential inscriptions of the memorial. These uniformly rejected Mies's “to the dead,” recommending instead that the site “give testimony of our continuing memory of the fallen”; one reader proposed “to the unforgotten” as an alternative. See “Die Inschrift des Ehrenmals,” Vossische Zeitung, 26 July 1930.

114. Wgf., “Das Ehrenmal für die Gefallenen,” 156; idem, “Das Ehrenmal der Gefallenen,” 209. The term “transfiguration” was used with reference to Tessenow's memorial in a variety of public fora, from trade periodicals to Braun's dedication speech to Germany's most widely-circulating daily newspaper. See Sternaux, , “Ehrenmal”; Den Gefallenen des Weltkrieges, 2; “Unser Toten-Ehrenmal.”Google Scholar

115. Clemen, Paul, Der Denkmalbegriff und seine Symbolik, Reden, Bonner Akademische, vol. 15 (Bonn, 1933), 3, 17.Google Scholar On Clemen, see Koshar, , Germany's Transient Pasts, 3941.Google Scholar

116. This ambivalence is reflected in the actors involved. The project that culminated in the installation of the memorial at the Neue Wache was developed and supported by such staunch republicans as Ebert, Marx, Redslob, Severing, and Braun and planned under the Great Coalition. The memorial was dedicated, however, not only by Braun and the relatively prorepublican general Groener but also by Hindenburg (a member of the old military and agrarian elite whose support of the republic was deeply ambivalent) and in the presence of Brüning (who presided over the dissolution of parliamentary government).

117. Nipperdey, Thomas, “Nationalidee und Nationaldenkmal in Deutschland im 19. Jahrhundert,” Historische Zeitschrift 206, no. 3 (1968): 531.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

118. Nora, Pierre, “Between Memory and History: Les lieux de mémoire,” Representations 26 (1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

119. Halbwachs, Maurice, On Collective Memory, trans. Coser, Lewis A. (Chicago, 1992), 172.Google Scholar Peter Homans, for instance, has argued that the interaction with a memorial that re-presents a traumatic collective memory can reopen the process of attending to that memory for the individual visitor; Homans, , The Ability to Mourn: Disillusionment and the Social Origins of Psychoanalysis (Chicago, 1989), 272.Google Scholar

120. Fritzsche, Peter, “Did Weimar Fail?Journal of Modern History 68, no. 3 (1996): 637.Google Scholar

121. For a discussion of the relationship among war, violence, and national identity in twentieth-century Germany, in which war provided “narratives of empowerment” and functioned as an “enactment of the identity of the nation” fundamentally inimical to difference and heterogeneity, see Geyer, Michael, “The Stigma of Violence, Nationalism, and War in Twentieth-Century Germany,” German Studies Review (Winter 1992): 76, 86.Google Scholar

122. Bartov, Omer, Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide, and Modern Identity (New York, 2000), 1617.Google Scholar

123. Eksteins, , Rites of Spring, here 197, 309.Google Scholar

124. Schmidt, “Baudiktatur”; idem, “Für die Opfer.”

125. Bretholz, Wolfgang, “Für 2 Millionen Tote!” Berliner Tageblatt, 2 06 1931.Google Scholar