Wreaths lying on the floor of the New Guardhouse, Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany for the Victims of War and Dictatorship
The Neue Wache or New Guardhouse is a memorial to the victims of war and tyranny. Käthe Kollwitz's famous Pietà sculpture "Mother and her Dead Son" can be admired here.
It is located between the Deutsches Historisches Museum (German History Museum) or former Armoury and Humboldt University. This was Karl Friedrich Schinkel's first important building commission in Berlin and is now part of his classical architectural legacy to Berlin. Erected in 1818 as a monument to the victims of the anti-Napoleonic wars it has been the reunited Federal Republic of Germany's main monument for the commemoration of the victims of war and tyranny since 1993.
History of the New Guardhouse
It served as a monument in three distinctive phases of German history. Until 1918 it was a memorial to the Wars of Liberation. From 1931, under Reichspresident Paul von Hindenburg, Heinrich Tessenow converted the monument into a memorial for the victims of the First World War by covering up an inner courtyard which only let through a slither of light. The task of transforming the monument fell into the hands of architect Heinrich Tessenow who produced a black granite block structure with a gold and silver Eichenlaubkranz. In the period following the end of the Second World War and the memorial's destruction the GDR leadership turned it into the monument for the victims of Fascism and militarism. An eternal flame was placed in a cube above the ashes of an unknown concentration camp prisoner and an unknown fallen soldier.
Käthe Kollwitz's Pietà
German reunification found a suitable symbol for the memorial in Käthe Kollwitz's wrenching sculpture also known as Pietà "Mother and her Dead Son" to express the perpetual tragedy of the loss of life caused by war and tyranny. Today the underground room includes the remains of an unknown soldier, a resistance fighter and soil from battlefields and concentration camps.
The classical elements include the cubic form reminiscent of a roman Castrum with a sandstone vestibule. The columns are decorated with metal Victorias in place of the classical triglyph and metope frieze.