Very little of Dresden was left after the city was fire bombed in 1945. The Soviet GDR re-built many of the structures that had been destroyed, but had to raze others. A monument to Mozart, in the Bürgerwiese Park, depicted three Graces dancing around an altar dedicated to the composer. Two of the statues survived with relatively minor damage, but only half of one statue remained and that was removed to the Zionskirche ruins “lapidarium” where fragments of the ruined city are stored to await possible restoration.
Hermann Kurt Hosaeus won the commission to design the Mozart memorial in 1904. He was not yet thirty years old. There was a bit of a scandal about this: Hosaeus was young, unknown, and there was little in the way of completed works for the jury to examine. In 1907, the monument was revealed. Again there was some grumbling, but most accepted the baroque vivacity of Hosaeus‘ work.The three Graces on the monument are not the ones we normally think of — Aglaiea et al — but “Anmut, Heitigkeit, Ernst”, or Grace, Joy, Seriousness (or, you might prefer, Grace, Glee, and Gravitas). After the 1945 bombing, the first two Graces were more or less intact, but Ernst was very battered. Hosaeus went on to become a favored monument sculptor. Born in 1891, he enlisted and was wounded in the War. His first monument sketches were made while in service. Following World War I, there was a great demand for war memorials and Hosaeus was ready to provide them. Great artists such as Kathe Kollwitz and Ernest Barlach created works that were later denounced by the Nazis. The memorials designed by Hosaeus were non-controversial. He became a Nazi Party member and headed the architecture division of Berlin’s Technical Institute from 1932 – 1945. He may have fled to Argentina in 1945, but, if so, he did not stay long. Hosaeus died in 1958. In 1991, a copy of the destroyed Mozart monument was constructed by Eberhard Wolf. He added missing pieces to the two damaged Graces and recast a new Ernst. Also in the ’90s, neo-Nazi groups began assembling in Dresden on the February 13 anniversary of the bombing, and from 1999, their protests became very noticeable. It may be that this created a desire on the part of Dresdeners to restore their reputation as Germany’s Art City, a place for reflection, rather than reaction. In 2010, the Friends of Dresden awarded the first annual Dresden Peace Prize:
…it was clear what it should represent: To learn from the city’s fate, to intervene before everything is held for disposal, as it was done in the art city Dresden. That was and remains to be the message. Remembering that Dresden’s fate was not a singular one, not then and certainly not now. Adding to the continual state of mourning, Dresden’s message about all that was lost, transcends remembrance: War is not the means of last resort it is the wrong means.
Sculptor Konstanze Feindt Eißner designed the Peace Prize. It is a replica of the Ernst statue as it exists now: riddled with bullet holes and a gaping wound in the abdomen, but Eißner has restored the statue’s legs and drapery. The parts replaced are the same gilt color as the replica in the Bürgerwiese; the areas above are weathered and grey.
[A tip of the hat to Klaus who told me about the Dresden prize.]
Notes: Russian photographer Vova Pomortzeff toured Germany seeking out war memorials and published his photos and impressions as The Woe of the Vanquished . This is a very interesting book that raises questions about what the artist meant and what the audience understood.
Konstanze Feindt Eißner (in German)
German Art page on Hosaeus with many pictures.