Greenwood, Wisconsin's Peace Memorial

Transcribed by Stan & Janet Schwarze.


Source: Marshfield News Herald  8/12/1982




Greenwood – It would seem appropriate that at a time when world peace seems to be endangered more than at any time in recent history, a local monument to peace would be refurbished.


The Greenwood city crew has applied a water repellant material to the statue in the city’s park next to the library.  A few cracks, possibly symbolizing the crack in world peace that have erupted since the statue was built in 1937, have also been repaired.


The monument was created by Ernest Durig who preceded his name with the title “professor” and claimed to the the last pupil of the famed Auguste Rodin.


Durig, a native of Switzerland, arrived in Greenwood to visit his wife’s sister who lived in the area.  The brief visit of the Durig’s and their daughter was extended when the artist offered to create a peace monument for the city.


It was his wife who was given credit for the statue’s design: a Gold Star mother holding an American flag high in one hand and clutching her fallen son with the other.


Durig worked in a box constructed around a block of white concrete manufacture by a Manitowoc firm.  What was going on behind the walls was a frequent subject of conversation.


According to Durig, this was just one of many sculpture he had worked on.  Among his self-proclaimed credits were busts of Pope Pius XI, Mussolini, Herbert Hoover, Will Rogers, George Eastman, Knute Rockne and toehrs.  During his stay in Clark County, he also worked on sculptures of several area residents.


When the statue was completed, some 7,500 people reportedly turned out for the unveiling.  Not among them were an assortment of dignitaries, including President and Mrs. Franklin Roosevelt, supposedly personal friends of the Durigs, who declined invitations.


Durig left Greenwood shortly after the dedication to allegedly work on a sculpture of the Roosevelts.  In 1965, Life magazine exposed a different side of the man who had been so popular in Greenwood.  The magazine reported that Durig died a pauper in 1962.  He had long been selling sketches by Rodin but they were rejected as fakes.  Life magazine, in fact, called the supposedly esteemed professor a “flagrant faker.”


The statue that Durig created, however, in the center of Greenwood is real.  Peace which the monument is meant to symbolize, unfortunately, not so real.

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