There are many works of art on public display in Kiel. Some are dedicated to specific people or groups of people, including the shipyard worker. But this particular work of art is also a good example of how an appreciation can turn into the opposite. For the shipyard worker was quickly denigrated by the vernacular as a “shipyard worker looking for his last raise.” The shipyard workers would have preferred an appreciation in the form of a wage increase rather than the erection of a monument.
But now let’s start again from the beginning:
For a long time, the economy of the city of Kiel was determined by the Navy, the shipyards and their suppliers. Even after the wars, civilian shipbuilding played a major role in the reconstruction of destroyed Kiel. As general director of Howaltswerke AG, Adolf Westphal commissioned the artist Walter Rössler in 1959 to create a monument to the shipyard workers.
The sculpture shows a worker in work clothes, kneeling, with his head tilted down. The depiction of the worker clearly stands out from the heroic depictions of earlier years. If you want to make a comparison, feel free to look at the “Shipyard Worker” and at the house 4 on the lake fish market. The artwork was created by Erich Schmidt-Kabul in 1939/1940, who created numerous National Socialist emblems on public buildings. He thus supported the propaganda of the Nazis. Quite strange, because of the hereditary health law (set link) of these same Nazis, he was forcibly sterilized after a stay in the Kiel mental hospital.