Logo Exhibition - Reinhold Begas - Monuments for the German Empire
DHM - Duration of the exhibition
Poster - Reinhold Begas - Monuments for the German Empire

The National Monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I in Berlin


The bronze-cast equestrian monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I was the main commission in Begas’ life and one of the largest monument installations in Europe – surpassed only by the Monumento Vittorio Emanuele II, erected from 1885 to 1911 in Rome. It faced the western façade of the Berlin Castle. Wilhelm II commissioned Begas in 1891, followed by the laying of the foundation stone on 18 August 1894 and the dedication on 22 March 1897. In the centre of the installation stood the nine metre high equestrian statue of the Kaiser, led by a female genius loci. Four Victorias hovered on the base, four lions guarded damaged war equipment on the projecting corners, and the youthful figures of “War” and “Peace” rested on the steps. The Weimar Republic did not lay a hand on the Hohenzollern memorial; the decree to destroy it as a “symbol of Wilhelminian art and grandiosity” was first formulated by the East Berlin city magistrate in May 1946. It was torn down in the winter of 1949/50. Only a few remains have survived: the four lions now in the zoo in Berlin-Friedrichsfelde, an eagle in the Berlin City Museum, the left hand of the genius loci, a few mosaic stones from the floor, the remains of a stair. The GDR government regularly set up stands for mass events on the surviving substruction at the Spree River; in the near future the “Freedom and Unity Monument” will be erected there.

Postkarte mit Nationaldenkmal für Kaiser Wilhelm I. in Seitenansicht, um 1930, Privatbesitz
Kolorierte Postkarte mit Schlossfreiheit und Nationaldenkmal für Kaiser Wilhelm I., um 1900/1910, Privatbesitz
Please click the headlines to enter the exhibition areas
Floor Plan I.M. Pei Building - second floor Time Horizon Ancestry and Youth Teachers and Training Rise to Success Rome and the'German-Romans' Figure, Portait and Casting The Sculptor's Studio Public Monuments and their Afterlife Begas Reception Iconoclasm at the End of the Second World War The National Monument to Kaiser Wilhelm I in Berlin Monument Dedications Cult of the Monument Monuments and the Public The Demolition of the Monuments 1949-1954 Begas Today
Floor Plan I.M. Pei Building - second floor - German Historical Museum
DHM - Exhibition Bottom