Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
On the 1st of February 1898 dies Ernst Karl Theodor Hoppe (later Carl Hoppe): an inventor, a factory owner and the man who lifted Kreuzberg more than 8 metres in the air and then turned it 21 degrees around its axis.
Hoppe´s first factory, an iron foundry and machine construction business, before it moved to Gartenstrasse 9-11 (Mitte) and then after the great fire of 1899 further to Reinickendorf, had its seat in Köpenicker Strasse 176.
It was here that the talented engineer decided to go independent and in 1843 formed a sort of joint venture with an experienced iron foundry owner, F. Lindner. Already in 1844 he took over the whole business and ran it with such verve that soon more space for expansion was needed. Hence the moving to Mitte.
And here, somewhere in the mid-1870s Carl Hoppe receives an order from the Kaiser: His Imperial Majesty does not appreciate the fact that the war memorial for Wars of Liberation, that his father had built in Tempelhofer Vorstadt on top of a lonely and sandy hill is no longer well visible and wants it higher. The memorial needs to be raised.
The lonely and sandy hill, formerly known as Tempelhofer Berg, Sandberg or Weinberg and now (and forever more) as Kreuzberg, is slowly disappearing. It is sinking among the fruit of booming construction industry. Houses are shooting out of the ground wherever you look. Big tenement houses that grow tall and make no excuses for taking the light or the view from others. Also, the trees were beginning to come between the memorial and the eye of the beholder. And as more trees were still to follow – Viktoria Park was still to come but the plans had already been there (Lenne and Schinkel: enough said) – it was time to act.
Lifting a 200-tonne–heavy war memorial is not a stroll in the park even by today´s means. Therefore, Hoppe´s solution was both astounding and ingenious. He designed a hydraulic lift with the water pressure of 30 atmospheres and lifting power of 16 tonnes. Then he had his workers make it in twelve “copies”, which altogether meant that some 192 tonnes would temporarily defy the laws of gravitation.
After the lifts were done doing their job, Nationaldenkmal am Kreuzberg was standing on an 8-metre-high pedestal or base and looking straight down the axis of Großbeerenstrasse. In the 1890s a system of waterfalls made Viktoria Park even more attractive to the visitors than it already had been. And it is the main waterfall, allegedly modelled after Zackelfall (Wodospad Kamieńczyka or Kamienczyk Waterfall in the Polish part of Riesengebirge aka Karkonosze) that you can gaze down next time you climb up the stairs leading to the Denkmal. So when you sit there, regain your breath and enjoy the view down the waterfall, give a kind thought to Herr Hoppe. The man who raised the iron giant.