Victoria, the personification of the Roman Goddess of Victory,

which sits atop Berlin's Victory Column: Some Germans say

it's a fitting omen for a man in the midst of an election battle,

while others complain that the statue commemorates victories

over nations that today are fellow E.U. members. Still other

Germans snipe that Hitler tainted it by putting it where it is.



Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany

Obama at the Victory Column: After All, Isn't That What He's After? ...


"The Column represents victory - and that's not a bad omen for someone in the midst of an election battle. To be precise, it's a reminder of three victories, albeit military ones. If he goes into this in his speech, he can mention Afghanistan and Iraq - and he'll still have one victory left."


By Eckart D. Stratenschulte*

Translated by Julian Jacob


July 22, 2008


Germany - Frankfurter Rundschau - Original Article (German)

Berlin's Victory Column: A very symbolic and perhaps fitting place for Barack Obama's much-awaited speech on translatlantic relations - although not all would agree. .


BBC NEWS VIDEO: Obama tells Berliners that the U.S.and Europe have grown apart and its time for them to come together again, July 24, 00:02:58. RealVideo

Barack Obama will come to Berlin on Thursday and deliver an important speech. That's already a beautiful thing. So many insignificant speeches are heard in Berlin that this will be nice for a change. But it's perfectly clear that Obama's interest in his performance consists not only in enriching citizens on holiday in Berlin, but above all for election advertising at home. Which is also why the "location" is so important.


Actually, Obama wanted to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate. That hasn't worked out. But the Gate isn't reserved, as has been claimed, for visiting heads of state. In fact there is a regular stream of promotional events there, and besides, it stands right next to the American Embassy. However, George W. Bush shot a furious glance at our chancellor during the G8 summit in Japan, so it won't be held there.


This may have left the candidate momentarily annoyed, but it can be seen in another light: The raised eyebrow of a U.S. President often creates widespread disruptions among Germany's leading politicians. If this is already true in Bush's case and judging by the recent conduct of the Europeans, the chances for a President Obama to mimic his success are excellent.




Now with the Victory Column, another good place has been found for his appearance. Obama need only characterize this in the proper light. First - the column represents victory - and that's not a bad omen for someone in the midst of an election battle. To be precise, it's a reminder of three victories, albeit military ones. If he goes into this in his speech, he can mention Afghanistan and Iraq - and he'll still have one victory left.


[Editor's Note: Conceived in 1864 to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war, by the time the Victory Column was inaugurated in 1873, Prussia had also defeated Austria in the Austro-Prussian War (1866) and France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870/1871), giving the statue a new purpose. These later victories in the so-called Unification Wars, inspired the addition of the 8.3 meter-high bronze sculpture of Victoria .]


About 200,000 Berliners gather to hear Barack Obama.


Atop the Column, Victoria is enthroned . She weights 35 tons - which includes the Iron Cross [held in her left hand ]. Ultimately, American viewers will want to see something they have in common with Germans. On Victoria's helmet sits the animal on America's coat of arms, the eagle, which will allow the transatlantic relationship to unobtrusively enter the picture. Victoria is lovingly named Goldelse [Golden Lizzy], after the title of a German novel [by Eugenie John ] which was serialized in the German newspaper Die Gartenlaube [in 1866]. Here, Obama can bring the solidarity of our two peoples into play. Incidentally, Victoria's face startlingly recalls the daughter of the column's sculptor, Fredrich Drake , which is a good example of how one can leave a long-standing mark on history.



And there's plenty of room for an audience around the Victory Column, for it stands in the midst of the Tiergarten [the park in the center of Berlin]. Obama should be somewhat grateful to Adolf Hitler for this. He had the Victory Column brought there in the context of his plans to rearrange Berlin as the world capital of Germania . To be precise, the monument stood in front of the Reich building [the Reichstag - or parliament building]. If it were there, the American candidate would have had to battle the central district's Urban Green Space Planning Office, which is even more stubborn than Angela Merkel.



The Victory Column also represents tolerance, as she is the patron saint of a gay magazine in Berlin. This reference ought to attract American voters to Obama in droves. All in all, the Victory Column is a location full of symbolism. This will surely stir the Democratic hope-bearer to meditate on where to permit his German guests to give their speeches - if only he can become president. For this, Angela Merkel can already be pleased.


*Eckart D. Stratenschulte is head of the European Academy in Berlin



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US July 24, 7:49am]

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