KREUZBERGED BERLIN

Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin

TODAY IN KREUZBERG: FEBRUARY 18th – THE DEATH OF EDUARD LÜRSSEN

1891

Some time between 5 and 6 PM on February 18th, 1891 in Berlin a famous and widely respected sculptor Professor Eduard Lürssen fails to go on his daily walk. Instead, standing in the middle of his studio in Kurfürstenstrasse 71 he puts a small gun to his left temple and pulls the trigger. He is almost instantaneously dead.

Berlin is deeply shocked. Prof. Lürssen, an active artist and a teacher of Dekorative Plastik (decorative sculpture) at Berliner Bauakademie, was a well known personality in German capital. Everybody knew him as the author of the wonderful works adorning the impressive Kaiser-Wilhelm-Brücke next to the Royal Castle as well as one of the best art teachers in Germany. His depression, on the other hand, was not a widely discussed topic.

At the time of his death only relatively small number of people realised that also one of the four group sculptures guarding both side of Belle-Alliance-Brücke (Hallesche Brücke today), as well as the keystones and the medallions decorating the span of the bridge on the outside, came from Lürssen´s studio.

Belle-Alliance-Brücke in all its beauty some time around 1880.

Belle-Alliance-Brücke in all its beauty some time around 1880.

Out of those four groups – Fischfang (Fishing) by Julius Moser, Flußschiffahrt (River Navigation) by Otto Geyer, Fruchthandel or Marketverkehr by Friedrich Reusch and, of course, Lürssen´s Gewerbefleiß (Industry in the sense of “working hard”) – only two still exist. Fischfang and Flußschiffahrt were removed from the bridge in 1921 or 1922 during the construction of the new underground level of the station for today´s U6 line.

The only image of Lürssen´s Gewerbefleiß I was able to find (a strongly magnified detail of a 1900 picture).

The only image of Lürssen´s Gewerbefleiß I was able to find (a strongly magnified detail of a 1900 picture).

Both of them found their new home on Melachton-Brücke in Urbanhafen but after the bridge was blown up in 1857 Fischerfang and Flußschiffahrt had to change their address again. This time they were placed on the lawn next to the old Krankenhaus Am Urban. But after a while they will be back to the waterfront again, looking at Landwehrkanal from Sedanufer not far from Waterloo-Brücke (Sedanufer is gone – today it is a path along the canal between Prinzenbad and Zossener Brücke). Until in the 1980´s Kreuzberg authorities decided to put them back where they belong: on their old bridge, now known as Hallesche Brücke. They took the place of the other, missing sculptures.

Otto Geyer´s Flußschiffahrt group in front of the old Lrankenhaus Am Urban

Otto Geyer´s Flußschiffahrt group in front of the old Lrankenhaus Am Urban

Because the other two groups were definitely less lucky. Although they both survived the war (almost) untouched – despite the rumours Fruchthandel was not hit by a bomb in 1943 or 1944 as in the picture made in April-May 1945 it´s still very much standing where it always was – like so many other Berlin sculptures they simply vanished in the air and could never be found again. Lürssen´s Gewerbefleiß counts as officially stolen.

Fruchthandel, Freidrich Reusch´s sculpture allegedly destroyed during WW2 - here a photo from 1945. Found thanks to Dan of the great War Tourist Blog.

Fruchthandel, Freidrich Reusch´s sculpture allegedly destroyed during WW2 – here a photo from 1945. Found thanks to Dan of the great War Tourist Blog.

And as if Lürssen´s tragic death were not enough, his wife Marie who discovered the artist´s body, died only hours later from a massive heart attack. They were buried together in Kreuzberg at Friedhof I der Jerusalems- und Neuen Kirchengemeinde – one of the cemeteries between Mehringdamm and Zossener Strasse. Standing at their grave you can almost see the bridge where some of Eduard Lürssen´s most beautiful works used to make people stop in their tracks.

The grave of Eduard and Marie Lürssen in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

The grave of Eduard and Marie Lürssen in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

One comment on “TODAY IN KREUZBERG: FEBRUARY 18th – THE DEATH OF EDUARD LÜRSSEN

  1. berlioz1935
    February 20, 2014

    Another great story. What a beautiful picture of the bridge and the buildings nearby in 1880. The area was just being developed at the time. I’m proud to have grown up there but sad that I also experienced the demise of it during WW II. You have shown so often in your blog what great part Kreuzberg played in the development of modern Berlin and in the world beyond.

CARE TO COMMENT?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,101 other followers

Archives

%d bloggers like this: