The King is back to a town in Germany in the form of a statue of Elvis Presley as he was in the 1950s. The town, Bad Nauheim, was a temporary home to Presley during his time in the military.
The statue of Elvis recreates a photo he once took in Bad Nauheim
It is set to be placed in August, on a pedestrian bridge crossing the Usa River in Bad Nauheim. This bridge was the location of a photoshoot of Elvis in 1959, and the statue emulates one of those famous photos.
The statue of Elvis will be leaning against the bridge’s railings like Elvis did in the photo; however, the ones the King leaned against have long been removed. In preparation for the statue’s arrival, the current railings are to be replaced with ones more closely matching the railings in the photo.
Two Presley fans, Meike Berger and Angela Storm, raised the money for the project with a GoFundMe campaign, managing to gather $42,000. The money has been well spent, allowing the creation of the nearly 6-foot tall figure of Presley. The statue was crafted from a 3D rendering of the original image, then cast in a foundry, and in its final form weighs 440 pounds.
Why was Elvis in this German town?
Elvis Presley received a letter containing his draft notice in 1957. By this time, Elvis was already a global superstar and was offered a chance to serve in the Special Services, a branch of the military focused on entertainment.
Despite being beloved by younger fans, older audiences perceived Elvis as a menace to society and were glad to have him out of sight. Both Elvis and his manager believed taking the deal to become a member of the Special Services would be seen as an unfair out available to him thanks to his fame, so he opted to enlist as a normal soldier.
His manager also realized that any performances would be recorded by the U.S. military only and would become their property, and any profits earned would go to Uncle Sam instead of Presley and his manager.
Immediately, older audiences warmed to him, viewing him as a true American who serves his country. He began basic training in Fort Hood, Texas, and spent the following 18 months serving in Company D, 32nd Tank Battalion, 3rd Armor Division.
He and his division would be stationed in Friedberg, West Germany. After being allowed to live off-base, he took up residence in the Grunewald Hotel in Bad Nauheim, near Friedberg. In early 1959, he would move to a five-bedroom house close by, after King Saud of Saudi Arabia booked the entire Grunewald Hotel for him and his entourage.
Elvis was honorably discharged from the military in early 1960 before returning back to the U.S. from West Germany. Despite him leaving, his legend has remained ever since.
Annually, the usually quiet town holds the European Elvis Festival, where it is flooded with “a sea of Cadillacs, petticoats and Elvis quiffs.” The festival is held near the anniversary of the King’s death on August 16, 1977.
The COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to the yearly festivities in 2020, but it’s back on track for August 13–15, 2021, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. The bronze statue of Elvis is due to be unveiled at this year’s festival.