Everything You Never Knew You Wanted to Know About Berlin
Following the posts published on this blog yesterday – they introduced “the mystery” of the broken columns lining the street between U-Bhf Hallesches Tor and today´s Mehringplatz – and a comment left by one of our readers, doubting the authenticity of the said objects, we did some additional digging as well as took a short trip to the place where the said columns are standing, to Hallesches Tor.
Here are our conclusions, which like most conclusions, are highly subjective.
Here are two good arguments FOR the authenticity of the columns: firstly, Strack had them made of polished granite, material which is immensely resistant and could have easily survived the air-raids in 1943/44 and the shooting during the Battle of Berlin in April/May 1945 (just as Cantian´s Friedenssäule did). After the war, the remains of the old Belle-Alliance-Platz were, like elsewhere, carefully collected and stored, which made their new use or recycling possible.
Secondly, as Hermann Rückwardt´s image from 1880 shows us, as far as their form and their size are concerned, the columns in the photo (this is the eastern “Magistratsklavier”) and those standing at Hallesches Tor today are pretty much identical. Obviously, the bases of the new columns cannot be original (you can see they were installed there after the plaza was re-designed and built anew – it was, in fact, an art project that resurrected the objects), however, the columns themselves are by all means pre-WWII creations: the proof for it is in the chipped “bullet-holes” or spots where the columns were hit by bullets or missiles.
I would risk saying that they cannot be 1930s or 1920s objects either: the style (rounded polished granite) was no longer fashionable (unless used at Berlin´s U-Bahn stations but to our knowledge only very few stations on the nearby U6 Line, like Voltastraße and Bernauer Straße, have their ceilings supported by by this kind of columns). However, it is quite improbable that they should have been brought to Hallesches Tor from some distant location in town: why do it? Especially to a dead spot that Mehringplatz became after 1945 and after 1961 in particular (the Berlin Wall ran only a couple of hundreds of metres north of it).
Perhaps it is only wishful thinking – my contacts at the local archives have not been able to answer all of my questions yet – but I believe we have every reason to consider those objects original.You are, of course, welcome to disagree:-)