It was a bleak structure in an unpleasant place. The new owner has now decided to breathe life into the historic walls of Gocławska Tower in Szczecin.
Both the surroundings and the memorial have been slowly, but effectively, changed over the past two years. Although it already existed in the times of the Polish People’s Republic, there were the first signs that something could be done with the building.
– As early as 1978, the Szczecin Press appeared in the headline “The Host Direly Needed, Opportunity for the Joklau Tower”. Unfortunately, no repairs were made in those days, even today. It caused a lot of damage, such as salting of stones, cracks in the ceilings, and tree growth in the joints – says Wojciech Kłodziński, owner of the tower.
So far, the new host, which he referred to as a hobby project, has cleared and leveled the area. The bushes were cut down and new grass was planted. Rubble and trash have been removed from the tower. Electricity and internet were provided. A 3D virtual tour of the tower has been developed. Despite the austere conditions so far, some interesting events have already been organized.
– As the new host of this place, together with the Rentumi team and my friends, in the past two years we have organized several interesting free events in which a total of several thousand residents of Szczecin participated – proud Mr. Wojciech.
Rapper TEDE, OSTR and artist Szczecin BabaYaga gave concerts under the tower. In a unique atmosphere – in late autumn – “Music Under the Moon” was held with the participation of pianist and composer Krzysztof Baranowski, in collaboration with the Academy of Arts during “Dziady”.
The tower was also open to gourmets. Dinner parties were organized on the observation deck. There were also drone flights and … garbage collected on time: more than two tons were collected in three hours.
During the work on restoring the splendor of the tower, some back-breaking operations were carried out.
– In December 2021, we removed the 32-meter steel mast from the dome of the tower. Climbers showed stability for three weeks, despite the bad weather: -3 ° C and snow. The mast was cut into sections half a meter long – says the owner. – Over the past few weeks we have been preparing for the next important stage, which is to repair the entire entrance gate with stone blocks in the false port. It is not an easy task, because the stones are dangerously caused by the growth of tree roots in the joints. These stones are located at a height of 10 meters. For the whole process, we have prepared not only scaffolding, but also specialized supporting towers and stair dams to drive the crane directly below the entrance to the tower. No bigger lever will come that can reach over the stairs.
Shell limestone from southern Germany
Loosen stones are cleaned, shaped and sanded. The next step would be to embed the missing limestone stones just below the edge of the outside balcony.
– We have a problem finding quarries with deposits of this calcium. The original stones come from southern Germany. We also need coal dust, with which we will fill in small holes – says Mr. Wojciech.
What’s Next? Most urgent will be securing and completing the roof as well as waterproofing the upper balcony. The future plans are ambitious.
– Ultimately, it will be a point of view. If there is an artistic opportunity, there will be a cafe with a beautiful view. Cultural events for up to 150 people are planned in the lower room, as well as a small museum with pillars from the tower and the vicinity of Gocław – confirmed the owner.
How many Bismarck towers were built?
The towers were built in the years 1869-1934 (the first tower was built in Lower Silesia, near the village of Ober Gunsdorf, today Janowicz). They had to glorify Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. The first buildings of this type were built during his lifetime, and the last tower was put into use in 1926 in Bolano.
174 Bismarck towers and columns stand in the territory of today’s Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, Austria, Cameroon, Tanzania and Chile. Another 66 of these structures, including those erected in today’s Denmark and Papua New Guinea, no longer exist.
On the territory of present-day Poland, only 17 of the original 40 confirmed or probable towers have survived (it is sometimes impossible to find documents confirming that a particular building was by definition the “Bismarck Tower”). Szczecin is one of a kind. why?
“You could say it was one of the largest of the towers dedicated to the Iron Chancellor, but it was certainly the most expensive of the towers. First, it was an unusual design modeled on the tomb of Emperor Theodoric in Ravenna, with an interior reminiscent of the Roman Pantheon. Second: the employment of A. Hermann Haushaus – a well-known specialist in Carving the monument from Berlin, raising the cost of its construction to a huge amount of 200,000 marks – says Commissioner Dr. Marek Chuzak, a policeman and historian.
Interestingly, the tower may not have been built in today’s Gocław, the residential area from which it takes its name, because the location of Grodzka Island was taken into account for a moment. In 1910, the Bismarck Monument Building Society for the Pomeranian Province led by Governor von Eisenhardt launched a competition to design the tower. The work by Wilhelm Kreis was selected for execution. The cornerstone was laid to celebrate the centenary of the Battle of Leipzig in 1913. On August 10, 1921, the tower was officially opened.
Site of trips and accidents
The residents of Szczecin loved the new building. Its location on the Gocław hills, covered with forests and cut by deep valleys, created ideal conditions for hiking. Most importantly, you can relax and eat something delicious nearby.
– In 1897, under the same tower, there was a Weinberg restaurant, at ul. Lipowa, two other venues Villa Flora and Zum Anker, enumerate Marek Shujak. – There was a large Gotzlow restaurant on the Odra River, accessible by ship, and in the woods behind the tower there were three more: Forsthaus Julo, Kaffeeberg and Böhmer Wald. The people of Guklau, who made a living from fishing and growing vineyards, were able to use the advantages of the area to attract tourists.
After 1945, the tower began to collapse.
– I do not know the exact date of the destruction, but I believe that the imperial eagles, symbolizing the strength of Germany, alarmed the Russians who occupied Goklau in 1945, since the remains of the nearby Hedwigshütte factory are located in the Mujahideen. Lipowa 16 – explains Mr. Marek.
The bust of Bismarck has also been removed from the inside. It was never found. On the other hand, parts of the eagles are still visible on the hillside under the tower.
After the war, this place had a bad reputation. There have been accidents, also fatal, and even allegedly celebrating a black mass.