For almost 50 years, artist Käthe Kollwitz (1967-1945) lived in Berlin's Prenzlauer Berg, then one of the most heavily populated areas is Germany. The family of four lived in Weißenburger Straße (now Kollwitzstraße), where her husband had a medical practice. There she witnessed the fates of the unemployed, starving and sick, whose emaciated figures are represented in her drawings and posters.
In 1947 the square was renamed Kollwitzplatz; in 1958 Gustav Seitz created the larger-than-life bronze monument of the sitting artist. Her serious expression is familiar from her many self-portraits. Although Seitz placed a sketch book and a charcoal pencil in her hand, Käthe Kollwitz appears deep in thought, motionless. A heaviness hangs over the block-like figure – as if the focus of her life and work weighs down on her: poverty, hunger, war and death. Her fierce political stance arose not least from her own painful experiences: she lived through the death of her youngest son in the First World War and of her grandson in the Second World War. She did not break under the pressure of the National Socialists, who excluded her from the Prussian Academy of Arts in 1933. She was one of only a few to join the funeral procession of her Jewish colleague Max Liebermann in 1935.
In 1986 the Käthe Kollwitz Museum in Charlottenburg's Fasanenstraße was devoted to her sculptures and graphic works. One of her most famous sculptures, Mother with Dead Son (Pietà), was recreated in a larger form for the Neue Wache building on Unter den Linden in 1993.