Berlin, Germany

The Victory Column is an iconic monument that was built by an architect, Heinrich Strack, after the Danish-Prussian war. The column symbolized the success of the Prussians’ defeat of the Danish in 1864. By the time of its completion in 1873, the Prussians had also defeated the French and the Austrians. The golden statue, ‘Victoria,’ designed by a sculptor, Friedrich Drake, was added in the 1930s to symbolize other war victories. In 1987, a politician, Francois Mitterand restored a decoration that had been removed in 1945, during the 750th anniversary of Berlin.

Its original location was Platz der Republik, at the time known as Königsplatz, but the Nazis moved it in the 1930s when they came to power as a part of their reimagining of Germany. Its relocation was probably the reason it survived so largely in tact after the Allied bombings of World War II. Some people still see the Victory tower as a Nazi symbol, and others see it as a commemoration of Prussia’s victories and unification.

In 1945, during the Battle of Berlin, Soviet Troops nicknamed the column “the Tall Woman.” Polish Army troops, fighting alongside their Soviet allies, hoisted the Polish flag on the column on May 2, 1945 at the end of the battle.

The column looked similar to the other victory columns, the “El Ángel” in Mexico City and the Alexander Column in St. Petersburg.

It served as the location for Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin as a US presidential candidate during his visit to Germany on July 24, 2008. The choice of site was controversial as it symbolizes German military victories of the past and is seen by some as a monument to German militarism.

The Reichstag is a symbol of democracy and the current home of the German parliament. The original building was designed by Paul Wallot and modelled after the Memorial Hall in Philadelphia. Decorative motifs, sculptures and mosaics were contributed by the artist Otto Lessing. The Reichstag was completed in 1894. It served as the home of the German parliament until 1933 when the building was severely damaged by a fire. Under Nazi dictatorship, the building fell into neglect and was severely damaged during WWII. In 1945, it becomes one of the primary targets for the Red Army due to its perceived propaganda value.

After the war, West Germany’s parliament was relocated to Bonn, and the building remained a virtual ruin until it was renovated in the 1960s. Throughout the cold war period and until the German reunification in 1989, the Reichstag was the site of a permanent exhibition. In 1990, the Reichstag was the site of the official reunification ceremony. After another year of intense debate, it was decided that it would once again be the home of the German national parliament. In 1995, just prior to the commencement of Norman Foster’s restoration of the building, artist Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude wrapped the Reichstag in fabric. Foster’s careful restoration and redesign of the building was completed in 1999, and the new German government convened at the Reichstag for the first time on April 19.

REFERENCE: Google Earth

Here’s more on Berlin:

Grades: B pluses

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