The Idea

The idea to build the "Kaiser Wilhelm" (Emperor Wilhelm) Memorial came from the warriors and soldiers who worshiped their Emperor (Kaiser Wilhelm died in 1888). With the formation of the second German Empire in 1871 the dream of many people in the several German countries to have one united nation state was fulfilled.

After the breakup of the first German Empire in 1806 many politically independent small countries developed. Economical development was therefore inhibited. Wilhelm I. also known as "Weißbart" and "Barbalanca" was celebrated as the executor of the German unification. The ex-warriors and ex-soldiers chose the ruins of the "Reichsburg" (fortress of the empire) Kyffhausen as the place to built the memorial.

The Kyffhäuser Mountains – legendary and rich in historical events - in the heart of Germany were the ideal place. The legend was fulfilled here.

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Architecture/Construction

Dr. Westphal, recording clerk of the "Kriegerbund" filed already three days after "Kaiser" Wilhelm I. (Emperor) died on March 9th 1888 an application for the formation of a memorial to honour "Kaiser" Wilhelm. The formation of the memorial was supposed to be financed through voluntary donations of all warrior- and soldier associations. The competition of the proposal was won by Bruno Schmitz who was the best-known German architect at the time. In 1890 the formation of the memorial started with the "Ringterrasse" (terrace).

The laying of the cornerstone was on May 10th 1892. The induction was on June 18th 1896 which was attended by "Kaiser" Wilhelm II (Emperor Wilhelm II), the grandchild of Wilhelm I. The Memorial facility is 131 metre long and 96 metres wide. The facility ends in the East with the plain stone-balustrade of the "Ringterrasse" (terrace) and in the West with the rest of the ruins of the "Oberburg" (upper-fortress).

Laying of the cornerstone

The laying of the cornerstone had to be postponed several times because of the bad weather conditions. Just after the technical constructions of the "Ringterrasse" (terrace) was finished the definite fixed date, May 10th 1892, was defined. Fürst Günther von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (Prince Guenther von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt) the protector of the conformation of the memorial attended the festivities and acted out the first
three strokes with the hammer.

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Laying of the Cornerstone: the First Hammer-Strokes

The induction

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20000 Soldiers and guests came to the induction

At the beginning of June the construction of the memorial was finished so far, that it was possible to define June 18th 1896 as the fixed date for the induction. After "Kaiser" Wilhelm II, grandchild of "Kaiser" Wilhelm I, approved the programme the preparations were started. The nearby small towns were asked to prepare themselves for the reception of the guests.

Wilhelm the II. arrived with a special train by secret travel route to the train station Roßla. There he was picked up by Fürst Günther von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (Prince Günther von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt)

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Emperor and Prince on their way to the Memorial.

After the festive speech by Prof. Dr. Westphal and the allocution by the Emperor the memorial was handed to the public with 101 gun salutes.

Excerpts of the contemporary press (free translation)

Since it started raining in the afternoon of June 18th many guests left the Kyffhäuser-Mountains very soon. Therefore the merchants didn’t sell their goods and made disprofit.

The wood-shop offered paper cups with the emblem of the Kyffhäuser for the served drinks. Unfortunately they dissolved when filled with the drinks and therefore weren’t suitable.