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The return of Aristotle

Partial view of undamaged Aristotle, circa 1930 (photo: J. Weyh)
  The main entrance
The main entrance to the old university buildings, with the four statues of Plato, Solon, Hippocrates and Aristotle (left to right), circa 1930 (postcard)

BEFORE 1945, the larger than life-size limestone statue of Aristotle (384-322 BC), along with statues of Plato, Solon and Hippocrates, dominated the monumental steps leading up to the main entrance of the old Kiel University building in the Schlossgarten. These Greek scholars of antiquity, the fathers of all universal learning and humanist scholarship, represented the four faculties of the university.

THE STATUE of Aristotle is the work of the Berlin sculptor Carl Begas (1845-1916). The impressive main university building (architects: Martin Gropius and Heino Schmieden), which opened in 1876, together with the monumental sculptures unveiled in 1882, formed a clear statement of the new Prussian presence in Schleswig-Holstein.

DESTROYED BY BOMBS in World War II, the ruin of the university building was demolished and cleared away in 1954 and the heavily damaged sculptures were buried. The fragmented torso of the statue of Aristotle was rediscovered in 2005 and represents a particularly stark link between the upheavals of modern German history and the motto of the Christiana Albertina, which dates back to the university's foundation in 1665 and remains as fitting today as it was then: Pax optima rerum – Peace is the greatest good.


Restorers with the torso
Copyright: CAU, photo: Sandra Sieraad
  The torso in the foyer
Copyright: CAU, photo: Jurgen Haacks

THE STONE RESTORERS, Paul Hofmann (left) and Christoph Kronewirth (centre), who have also worked for the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, were responsible for erecting the 1.2-tonne torso in the foyer of the main lecture hall. Professor Uwe Albrecht from the Institute of Art History at Kiel University (right) oversaw the work. The restorer who reassembled the Aristotle fragments, Jochen Seebach from Emkendorf, was absent when the picture was taken.

The torso in the foyer

The torso in the foyer (Copyright: CAU, photo: Jurgen Haacks)

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