Update: 20.08.2011

Bismarck-towers and Bismarck-columns
The Bismarck-tower infoportal about a unique German monument phenomenon

Bismarck-towers are a unique German monument phenomenon to honor the ex-Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1815 - 1898). 240 of these towers were built between 1869 and 1934 on four continents (Australia, South America, Africa and Europe).

173 Bismarck-towers, including new discovered towers, still remain worldwide. Most of the towers were built after 1899 only by donations from German citizens. Surely this was partially a protest to the imperialistic politic of German Emperor Wilhelm II, who has dismissed long-standing Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1890.

After the dismissal of Bismarck, especially increased since his 80th birthday in 1895 (over 400 honorary citizenships), a special Bismarck-myth (Bismarck-cult) started. Hundreds of streets were named after Bismarck, hundreds of monuments were built. Cities, districts, mountains, plants, ships were also named after the German ex-Chancellor. German emigrants, for example in the United States have chosen his name for the following cities: Bismarck (Capitol of North Dakota), Bismarck (Arkansas), Bismarck (Illinois) and Bismarck (Ohio).

The German Student-Corporation has chosen one of the submitted blueprints of German architect Wilhelm Kreis in an architecture-competition from 1899. The awarded blueprint 'Götterdämmerung' was selected as the standard model for all Bismarck-columns. This massive and squat tower model was able to build in various heights and width depending on the donation amount for every monument.

Every Bismarck tower should be built as a fire column on the top of a mountain. Their fire-bowls should be ignited on fixed days to honor the ex-Chancellor Bismarck to remember his achievement by the Unification of Germany from 1871. The aim was to illuminate the whole German Reich in order to have a wide view from one flamed tower to other flamed Bismarck-towers ('net-idea').

But only 47 towers were built as 'Götterdämmerung', other towers were erected on other blueprints, in many cases similar to the standard-model, in other cases with big differences. Some tower committees conducted their own competition.

Most of the Bismarck-towers were built as lookout towers, although this was not the intention of the German Student Corporation. But at this time lookout towers were very popular.

A few Bismarck-towers never received a fire bowl.

Numerous towers were flamed on Bismarck’s birthday (1st April) and / or on summer solstice (21st June). Due to the different years of construction the network idea did not work. After World War I the Bismarck-myth faded.

410 Bismarck-towers were planned, 240 were built.


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Joerg Bielefeld, Remscheid [Germany]
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webmaster(at)bismarcktuerme.de