KREUZBERGED BERLIN

Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin

TODAY IN KREUZBERG: JANUARY 1st – LITTLE HOUSE ON THE HILL

When on September 19th, 1818 the corner stone for the future Nationaldenkmal für Befreiungskreige (National Memorial for The Wars of Liberation) was laid on top of Tempelhofer Berg in today´s Berlin-Kreuzberg, the occasion was commemorated on hundreds of bronze memorial medals.

The original 1818 medals featuring Friedrich Wilhelm III and Alexander I on the obvers and the memorial itself on the reverse (photo: Münzen am Zoo Berlin Leihhaus - Thomas Polland, where the medal can be purchased as well)

The original 1818 medals featuring Friedrich Wilhelm III and Alexander I on the obvers and the memorial itself on the reverse (photo: Münzen am Zoo Berlin Leihhaus – Thomas Polland, where the medal can be purchased as well)

Those medals were sold and the proceeds from their sale formed a special fund helping the soldiers crippled during the Napoleonic wars. But what these soldiers and their families needed the most were jobs, a regular income that would allow them to thrive.

Martin Herborn, a war invalid, had more luck than many others. He was offered a position that was not only relatively well paid and respectable but also provided him with comfortable accommodation on top of that.

On January 1st, 1822 – a year after the Nationaldenkmal was finished and unveiled – Herborn moved into the small and cosy Wächterhouse (the guard´s house) at the foot of the memorial.

The house was placed out of direct view, on the north-eastern side of the hill that until 1821 was known as Tempelhofer Berg, Sandberg, Runder Berg and Weinberg and became Kreuzberg afterwards. The God of Prussian Architecture, Schinkel, designed it to match the memorial he built for the king: both constructions shouted “Gothic revival!” from far away.

Tempelhofer Vorstadt seen from the top of Kreuzberg (the hill) in 1829 in a painting by Heinrich Hintze

The memorial with the roof of the (in reality much smaller) guard´s house visible to its right (The View From Kreuzberg by Heinrich Hintze, 1829)

Martin Herborn lived at the foot of Nationaldenkmal until at least mid-1830s. He was followed by several other guards until in the last decade of the 19th century the building was bought by the Milchkuranstalt from Kreuzbergstrasse down at the bottom of the hill (you can read more about the Milchkuranstalt or the “milk sanatorium” in Kreuzberg in the following post).

Milchwirtschaft bar next to the Kreuzberg Monument

Milchwirtschaft – the milk bar next to the Kreuzberg Memorial, opened inside the old Wächterhaus

The building could be still seen on the 1938 map of the area and was most probably destroyed during the 1944 British air-raid that removed the villas of Wilhelmshöhe (the neighbouring elegant cul-de-sac) and ripped open part of the memorial´s stone base.

If you should go looking for it today, all that you will find is a forlorn damp little football pitch behind a high mesh-wire fence – unused because dark, damp and uninviting. Hard to believe that it is here that Martin Herborn spent the happiest years of his life.

wächterhaus im vpark in the 1930s

The Wächterhaus marked on the 1938 map of Tempelhofer Vorstadt (Kreuzberg 61 between the canal and Tempelhof)

4 comments on “TODAY IN KREUZBERG: JANUARY 1st – LITTLE HOUSE ON THE HILL

  1. berlioz1935
    January 8, 2014

    Die Milchwirtschaft we loved to visit as children and have a drink of cool milk, herrlich. The milk was only sold during the summer months. The licensee (Betreiber) sold postcards on the steps of the Denkmal. Still to today I remember what he looked like. When you come up the first steps you look at a wall. There are two metal bars. That is where he hung up his display of the postcards. Memories, they will go to my grave with me.

    • notmsparker
      January 9, 2014

      No, they won´t – they are safe with me and all the others reading this, Peter! Thanks so much for sharing them. You are by far my most precious source of information – keep it coming, please:-)
      I will go to the park soon and take some photos. Of the metal bars, of course, as well.

  2. auntyuta
    January 9, 2014

    “Tempelhofer Berg, Sandberg, Runder Berg and Weinberg”
    Gee, it had a lot of different names before it became “Kreuzberg”!

    • notmsparker
      January 9, 2014

      There are several others I have found as well (like Götz´sche Berg) but I left them out in order not to confuse the public:-)

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