4/9/1915 Berlin unveils Iron Hindenburg

In Berlin today beside the Victory Column the authorities unveil the 12 metre tall figure of Iron Hindenburg. A choir sings and Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg gives a speech to mark this momentous occasion. Sadly Iron Hindenburg is not a diesel-powered automaton who strides off to smite the enemies of the Fatherland but a wooden statue of the revered field marshal into which people pay to drive nails. The sale of the nails raises funds for the war effort.

Across Germany and Austria-Hungary the citizenry have been paying to drive nails into similar statues. Sometimes the nails are driven into statues of other leaders of the German war effort such as Admiral Tirpitz or Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria. Sometimes they are of mythic heroes, as is the case with the Iron Siegfried of Wiesbaden. And sometimes the nails go into crosses, shields, columns or other inanimate objects. In Berndorf there is even an Iron Bear. The nail figures are an important focus of popular support for the war effort and for the struggles of German and Austro-Hungarian menfolk at the front.

image sources:

Iron Hindenburg (Great War London; picture taken from reproduction of the New-Yorker Staats-Zeitung, 16. Oktober 1915 on Project Gutenberg)

Iron Siegfried (Landesgeschichtliches Informationssystem Hessen (Hessian Regional History Information System))

2 thoughts on “4/9/1915 Berlin unveils Iron Hindenburg

  1. It seems to have been very common all across Germany. Also in Austria-Hungary, and not just in German areas there, as there was a big Nail Man in Cracow run by a Polish organisation.

    I don’t know if the practice made its way to Allied nations, as my source on the subject is primarily concerned with the Central Powers war effort. One of the links above mentions a later Iron Hindenburg in Stepney, but this was more an opportunity for people to vent their dislike of the German general.

    The point about iron nail being a valuable war material is an interesting one. Maybe they pulled out the nails and melted them down or something.


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