The History of the Humberg Tower and the Association
In 1896, committed citizens of Kaiserslautern founded the Humberg Association with the aim of financing and building an observation tower on the Great Humberg hill (1,400 ft) in the forest to the south of the city. The first entry in the book of minutes of this association describes the history of the origin of the association on the occasion of a Sunday lunchtime drink in the Hotel Krafft at No.19, Markt Strasse, in Kaiserslautern on August 23rd 1896.
A short survey of the history of the origins of the Humberg Association.
For many years, the population of the city of Kaiserslautern expressed the lively wish for the construction of an observation tower on the Humberg hill (1,400ft) to beautify the surroundings of the city, to give all friends of nature protection against wind and weather at the top of this hill and to offer the pleasure of the wide and beautiful panorama of the view. For many years, the fulfilment of this thought remained a pipe dream. Even the decision of the city council to consider the construction of an observation tower on the Humberg changed nothing in this respect. It remained to the personal initiative and drive of local friends of nature and of the beautification of Barbarossa’s city and its surroundings to put the execution of the plan to work by means of an association founded solely for this purpose. At 11.50am on Sunday August 23rd 1896, a Humberg Association to realize the plan mentioned was founded at a lunchtime drink at the round table in the Hotel Krafft by Chief Inspector of Taxes Liebler, the physician Dr. Kinscherff, Legal Assistant Dr. Müller, the merchant Ernst Kieffer jr. and the malt manufacturer Gelbert. They established and paid the first contributions and went about recruiting members in the next few days. After they had become convinced that the newly-founded association had found a welcome echo everywhere, an invitation to the constituent assembly of the association was sent out on postcards already bearing a picture of the planned tower.
At the first general meeting on September 14th 1896, Major Karl Mottes was elected chairman. Among the founding members were Mayor Dr. Orth, his predecessor, Privy Councillor von Neumayer, the sewing machine manufacturer Pfaff, the printing works owner Thieme and the businessmen Karcher and Pfeiffer.
The plans for the tower were drawn up by the then member of the planning department and later ministry official in the Highest Building Authority of the State Ministry of the Interior in Munich, Ludwig Ritter von Stempel. The Humberg Tower is a monumental sandstone block building with neo-romantic echoes typical of the Wilhelmian era. The octagonal base is 28ft high, the outside staircase surrounding the lower tower on two sides has 33 steps on each side, the spiral staircase inside the slender cylindrical shaft of the tower has 130 steps. The observation platform is 93 feet above the ground. The total height of the tower is today 118 feet.
The foundation stone was laid in the spring of 1899. On May 3rd 1899, the tower, already 33 feet high, collapsed on account of faulty mortar. After reconstruction, the tower was finally opened officially on September 2nd, 1900.
In March 1909, the Humberg Association was dissolved. New projects had been considered but rejected. The task for which the association was founded had been successfully accomplished. The Humberg Tower was built and paid for. The tower itself, plus the association’s capital of 1800 marks, passed into the ownership of the city of Kaiserslautern.
During the First World War, aircraft observers were stationed on the Humberg Tower. In the Second World War, a unit of the aircraft warning troops took up their positions on the Great Humberg Hill. The two-storey superstructure removed at that time was replaced in 1950 by a simplified sandstone structure with a new helm roof.
In 2000, the Humberg Tower celebrated its 100th anniversary. Hundreds of visitors made their way to the festival on the Great Humberg Hill on Sunday September 17th.
On December 20th of the same year, the start of the foundation of the Humberg Tower Association of Kaiserslautern was made at the Bremerhof. The idea was Wolfgang Albrecht’s, the then director of the waterworks, on the occasion of a round of spiced wine at the Christmas Market. The Association was to adopt the building which had become so near to the hearts of the citizens of the city of Kaiserslautern.
The constituting session on February 14th 2001 was able to win over Werner Weisenstein, a city councillor and chairman of the district committee of the Betzenberg, to be chairman of the association. Since May 15th 2013, Werner Lademann has been chairman of the Humberg Tower Association of Kaiserslautern.