Topics of the day right in the middle: Bautzen’s dispute over the Bismarck monument

in the middle

Status: 11.11.2021 11:59 a.m.

Some want to have it rebuilt – others are strictly against it. In Upper Lusatia, plans to rebuild a Bismarck monument are heating up people.

By Daniel Schrödel, MDR

The base in front of the Berggasthof Czorneboh is still overgrown. But soon a Bismarck statue could be rebuilt on the legendary excursion mountain near Bautzen – based on a historical model: almost three meters high, with a spiked hat, uniform skirt, sword and iron cross. Elmar Ladusch thinks this is martial. The tenant of the mountain inn wants to prevent the plan of an AfD-affiliated home care association from the region and keep Bismarck away from his beer garden.

# in the middle of Bautzen: dispute over a Bismarck monument

Daniel Schrödel, MDR, Daily Topics 10:15 p.m., 11/10/2021

Avoid political trench warfare

The landlord of the Berggasthof is not interested in shaking up the existing Bismarck legacy. Monuments to the first German Chancellor and the many Bismarck towers in the country could remain “until the last day,” says Ladusch. But rebuilding the statue that was destroyed after the Second World War is something completely different and therefore so problematic.

Bismarck is a stimulus figure because of his foreign policy, which is characterized by “blood and iron” and the socialist laws – and Ladusch does not want the Czorneboh to become a kind of “theater of war” for the political trench warfare in East Saxony. He has often seen guests with imperial flags come by after demonstrations against Corona measures.

The “Bautzener Liedertafel” does not want to comment in front of the camera. She shares a mailbox with the AfD.

Bautzen’s Lord Mayor Ahrens initially also voted for the Bismarck monument.

Destruction as an “act of barbarism”?

The destruction of the Bismarck monument on the Czorneboh around 1950 was an act of barbarism, says the idea and financial backer for the reconstruction, the “Bautzener Liedertafel”. The Heimatpflege-Verein not only stands for tradition, but also sympathizes with politics on the right-wing conservative fringes. For example, members sang at AfD rallies and took part in Pegida demonstrations. To this end, the small association meets in the AfD office in Bautzen and shares the same mailbox with the party.

The “Bautzener Liedertafel” does not want to give an interview, which surprisingly managed to win a majority in the main committee of the Bautzen city council for the Bismarck monument. Even SPD city councilors and the Social Democratic Lord Mayor Alexander Ahrens approved their application at the beginning of October.

This is what the former Bismarck monument in Bautzen looked like.

Historian Pollack sees conflict if a new Bismarck were to be placed on the old pedestal.

Historian warns: keep an eye on minorities

Shortly after the decision became known, resistance arose, particularly from the Sorbian minority. Friedrich Pollack, historian at the Sorbian Institute in Bautzen, was against the Bismarck monument from the start. Because Bismarck’s policy was aimed at the uncompromising oppression of ethnic minorities in the German Reich such as the Sorbs and Poles, Pollack warns.

A reconstruction exactly where the Sorbs have their home and only a few kilometers away from the border with Poland would testify to unprecedented historical oblivion: “When we put Bismarck on a pedestal, a three-meter-high standing figure, we are expressing that we want to take a role model from him in some way, and that is something different from coming to terms with history and dealing with a contradicting historical personality. “

SPD city councilor Fleischer thought about it – and changed his mind about the monument.

Do not create a place of pilgrimage

The Prostest in Bautzen had some effect. The SPD local politician Roland Fleischer – still a supporter of the Bismarck memorial in the main committee – wants to vote against the reconstruction in the next, decisive city council meeting, as do his group colleagues: “Because we believe that this memorial will become a place of pilgrimage for right-wing extremists, right-wing extremists and for nationalists. “

His party friend in the town hall, Lord Mayor Alexander Ahrens, does not share this concern. Despite many criticisms of Bismarck, according to Ahrens, the bottom line was that the founder of the empire was progressive for his time. “Democracy needs discussion, but with decency and respect for the respective opponent. And I think that it is literally a step forward to actually erect this monument again, because there we have a stumbling block that can lead to discussions.” A supplementary panel should point out the downside of the Chancellor’s policy.

Will Bismarck soon be in the beer garden on the Czorneboh? The Bautzen city council wants to make a final decision at the end of November. The majority ratios are unclear before the vote.

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