There were 3 key people involved in the restoration of the
château du Haut-Koenigsbourg: the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II,
architect Bodo Ebhardt and the artist Leo Schnug.
Wilhelm II (1859-1941)
Wilhelm II (Friedrich Wilhelm Viktor Albrecht von
Hohenzollern), born January 27th 1859, was the
last German Kaiser and the last King of Prussia. He reigned from
1888 to 1918.
His time in power was marked by the industrial revolution and an
increasingly militaristic stance.
In his desire to be a modern leader at the head of a dynamic
country, he dismissed his Chancellor Bismarck in 1890 and launched
a programme of economic and social measures that transformed
Germany into a great industrial power.
He did not renew the German-Russian mutual aid pact (an
agreement guaranteeing the two countries' neutrality in set
circumstances), instead embarking on an aggressive foreign policy
that quickly led to disagreements with the United Kingdom and
France. He improved relations with Austria and Italy and launched a
huge programme of re-armament. In 1914, he brought his country into
the First World War. He abdicated on November 9th 1918
and went to live in the Netherlands, where he died in 1941.
Throughout his life he was fascinated by classicism and
archaeology, he looked back in admiration to the Middle Ages,
knightly virtues and the age of chivalry. He was anxious to match
the achievements of his grandfather Wilhelm I and to become known
as a great emperor. This ambition expressed itself in the
restoration of Haut-Koenigsbourg. He followed the
project's progress very carefully, developed a close relationship
with the architect and visited the site every year.
Bodo Ebhardt (1865-1945)
Born on January 5th 1865 in Bremen, his father was a
furniture-maker. Bodo Ebhardt died on February
13th 1945 in The Marksburg, a castle where he had lived
After having studied cabinet-making at the Berlin school of
decorative arts, he became an architect.
He loved castles and in 1899 published Deutsche Burgen,
a book in which he suggested that ruined castles should be rebuilt.
In the same year he founded the German Castles Association
(Deutschen Burgenvereinigung) in the Marksburg castle at
Braubach in Germany.
He edited Der Burgwart, a magazine about castles, which
promoted the conservation and above all, the restoration of
medieval castles. He was much criticized for this by those opposed
to the restoration of castles.
His love of the Middle Ages and his enthusiasm for castle
restoration made a good impression on Wilhelm II, who regularly
visited him in his Berlin studio.
The project to restore Haut-Kœnigsbourg
involved many travels abroad, where he drew inspiration from other
fortresses. Moreover, he frequently managed several projects at the
same time, earning himself the nickname of 'rasender Bodo' (busy
Leo Schnug (1878-1933)
Leo Schnug was an illustrator and painter born
in Strasbourg in 1878. Alcohol abuse and loneliness marked his life
and he died at Brumath-Stephansfeld psychiatric hospital on
December 15th 1933. He is buried in Lampertheim cemetery
in the Département of the Bas-Rhin, where his gravestone can still
be seen today.
His first involvement with the château dated from 1908, when he
drew up sketches of costume designs for the parade organized for
the unveiling of the castle. In the years up to 1914 he completed
the main wall paintings to be found in the castle, including the
famous Emperor's banqueting hall and the trophy room.
He also produced the following works:
- " Saint Martin partageant son manteau" ('Saint Martin sharing
his cloak', Strasbourg Museum)
- Wall paintings for the Maison Kammerzell and the former
pharmacy, the pharmacie du Cerf in Strasbourg
- The painting, "Der von Tierstein" in Lampertheim town hall