Four Scholars of Königsberg
In 1927, William Ehrich worked under Stanislaus Cauer, the senior professor
of sculpture at the Art Academy (Kunstakademie) in Königsberg. Although
Königsberg at the time was the focal point of art and culture in East
Prussia, the hyperinflation that began in 1922 and the massive need for
reconstruction resources made financial support for art difficult to obtain.
Since Cauer was such a dominant force at the time, he received numerous
commissions. In order to support himself and his new bride, Ruth, Ehrich
worked for Cauer and executed some of his projects. Among those works were
the sculpted heads of Copernicus, Kant, Herder, and Corinth which were placed
above the main entrance to the Neue Burgschule on Lehndorfstraße, which was
completed in November of 1927.
After the final destruction of Königsberg and the Russian conquest in April,
1945, the Russian occupiers wished to remove all traces of German identity,
but many buildings and some art survived. The Neue Burgschule survives today
as Gimnasium No. 1 in Kaliningrad,
but the heads were destroyed in 1945. Incredibly, Die Zeit reports
that at the end of September, 1945, a Russian colonel visited the school and
demanded that the director destroy the heads. A student named Jurij
Nikolaiewitsch Iwanow recalls how he held the ladder as the heads were
destroyed and discarded in a bomb crater. Nobody knew the artists or the
intellectuals whose likenesses were lost that day.
- Sietz, Henning, Königsberger Stufen, Die Zeit,
October 11, 1991, p. 91.
- Dönhoff, Marion Gräfin, Mit Mut, Die Zeit,
July 29, 1994, p. 6.
- Krücken, Wilhelm,
Die Burgschule Königsberg in Preußen.
- Mühlpfordt, H.M., Königsberger Skulpturen und ihre Meister 1255-1945,
Holzner Verlag, 1970, p. 51.
- Die neue staatliche Burgschule in Königsberg i. Pr.,
Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung 48 (31),
August, 1928, pp. 497-502.