33Thälmann Monument

Buchenwaldplatz

A group of students in uniform gather around a statue on a pedestal, with buildings in the background.
Thälmann Monument on the Square of 56,000, around 1961.

Until 1945, there was a memorial to the French-German War of 1870/71 on the former
Watzdorf Square, which was removed after 1945. The plaques with the names of the fallen soldiers from Weimar are now attached to the former cemetery chapel in the historic cemetery, which serves as a memorial hall for the First World War. In memory of the dead of the Buchenwald concentration camp, the square was renamed Platz der 51,000 in 1945 and Platz der 56,000 in 1958. The initial plan was for a "Peoples' Monument to the Resistance Movement" that would encompass the entire square. It was not realized. It was replaced by the GDR's first memorial to Ernst Thälmann (1886-1944), the Reichstag deputy and chairman of the KPD who was murdered in Buchenwald on 18 August 1944. It was created by the Dresden sculptor Walter Arnold and shows Ernst Thälmann as a combative orator during his time as a politician in the Weimar Republic. The statue was ceremonially unveiled on August 17, 1958. The wall bordering the square to the west bears the inscription: "From your sacrifice grows our socialist deed." Symptomatic of the anti-fascism of the GDR, the history of the memorial shows how the commemoration of all those who died in the concentration camps disappeared behind the memory of communist heroes. The square has borne the name Buchenwaldplatz since 1991.