What a long, strange trip it’s been to Siegessäule at the Großer Stern in Tiergarten Park, where on Thursday, July 24, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., will deliver what his campaign is billing a "major speech on the historic U.S.-German partnership, and the need to strengthen transatlantic relations to meet 21st century challenges."
As you may recall, originally Obama’s campaign had explored the notion of its candidate speaking at the Brandenburg Gate, site of President Ronald Reagan’s "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" speech.
But German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear to Obama she didn’t cotton to the idea.
This was followed by allegations the Bush White House was involved in Merkel’s "nein"-ing, denials of said allegations, and then one of Obama’s foreign policy aides said that the candidate himself thought Brandenburg was a "presumptuous" location.
So where will Herr Obama be speaking?
Der Siegessäule is the "Victory Column" erected to celebrate the Prussian victory over the Danes in their 1864 war. Before the column could be completed, the Prussians had knocked off two other victories, in wars against Austria in 1866 and France in 1970-1871. The 35-ton figure atop the column is the Goddess of Victory. The base of the column is festooned with bas-reliefs of battles.
The column used to be located elsewhere in Berlin — in front of the Reichstag — but it was moved to the intersection of Großer Stern (Great Star) by the Nazis.
In Wim Wenders’ film Wings of Desire the column is where angels meet.