Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
At Mariannenplatz in SO 36 a “new” memorial for Berlin fire-fighters who lost their lives while on duty is revealed . “New” because it replaced the original memorial placed on the same spot in 1902 and designed by Ludwig Hoffmann.
Hoffmann, who gave Kreuzberg Volksbadeanstalt Bearwaldstrasse (today just as beautiful as back in 1901 and still serving as an indoor public swimming-pool), Friedrich-Realgymnasium in Schleiermacherstrasse (Leibnitz-Gymnasium today), Altes Zollhaus in Carl-Herz-Ufer (now an excellent restaurant but originally Straßenreinigungsdepot – city cleaning services´ depot) and the old Möckernbrücke blown up during WW2, created a memorial that in its artistic form was far more decorative than the one that was to take its place after the war.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Berlin Fire Department Hoffmann created a fountain with a sarcophagus decorated with dolphins and waves (symbols of water) as the central element. It was sided by two massive pylons with symbols of fire on them. The two lion heads placed to the left and to the right were spitting water while on a relief created by August Vogel Hercules was forever fighting the four-headed monster, Hydra.
A plaque nailed to the memorial listed the names of the fire-fighters who died protecting the lives and the goods of others.
Badly damaged during the air-raids and the Battle of Berlin, the monument – or rather what was left of it – was eventually dismantled in 1958.
But only 2 years later Dietrich Wolff unveiled his version of the memorial: a simple 5-metre long wall with stylised flames all along its surface. Although not as decorative as Hoffmann´s work, it is one of the most powerful symbolic representations of the fire-fighting trade and its dangers. And also one of the simplest ones.
Kurt Mühlenhaupt´s Feuerwehrbrunnen placed in 1981 opposite Wolff´s memorial, very much beloved by the residents and by the tourists not only because of the welcome cooling it offers in summer but also because of the funny noses that the artist gave his characters, was not – despite what many guide-books and web pages claim – built on the spot where Hoffmann´s work stood. It was put on the small plaza between Mariannen- and Waldemarstrasse in front of the place where the old fountain stood.