In December 2018, I visited Düsseldorf, Germany, the capital of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia. While strolling along the river Rhine, I passed by “Villa Horion.” Villa Horion was built in 1910/11 by the German architect Hermann vom Endt in the neoclassical style. In 1984, it was registered as a historically protected building by the Department for the Preservation of Historical Buildings in Düsseldorf (Denkmalbehörde Düsseldorf).
The building was originally used as the official residence of the state governor (Landeshauptmann) of the Rhine Province, a former province of Prussia. It is named in honor of the last democratically elected state governor Johannes Horion, who served from 1922 until 1933. After WWII, the British military used it as an officers’ mess until 1956. In 1958, the state cabinet announced that Villa Horion would be used as the office of the Prime Minister and State Chancellery of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. A statue of Johannes Rau, former Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia (1978 to 1998) and German Federal President (1999 to 2004), stands on the square in front of the building. In 1999, the office was relocated to a different part of Düsseldorf. Today, the building houses the petitions department of the parliamentary administration as well as the “House of Parliamentary History” (Haus der Parlamentsgeschichte), where visitors can learn about the history of the state parliament and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia in general.
On the other side of the square, you can find a statue of Karl Arnold, former major of Düsseldorf (1947-1956), first democratically elected Prime Minster of North Rhine-Westphalia (1947-1956), and first President of the German Bundesrat (1949-1950), the constitutional body through which the states participate in the legislative process. In his hands, he holds a paper with several of his political maxims. One of them reads:
Der Weg zur Freiheit und Wohlfahrt ist keine Autobahn, sondern ein schmaler und mit viel Geduld beladener Pfad. Diesen Pfad freizulegen und ihn zu einer breiten Vorstraße zu erweitern, ist das Ziel einer sinnvollen Politik.
Translation (by author):
The way towards freedom and prosperity is not a highway, but a narrow path paved with patience. To uncover this path and to broaden it into a bigger road is the goal of a sensible policy.