On 31 July 1913 the whole of Norway turned their eyes to Vangsnes, a small, roadless village with 285 inhabitants, located on the Sognefjord,. Between 5000 and 10000 visitors were present to witness the solemn unveiling of the gigantic Fridtjov statue, 14 tons of weight and 10,5 metres of height. The bronze statue had been made in Germany by the Berlin artist Max Unger who had spent 8 months on the work, and it was a gift from the German Emperor Wilhelm II. In addition to the German Emperor Wilhelm II both the Norwegian King Haakon and the former Norwegian Prime Minister Christian Michelsen were among the guests. The statue was mounted on a 12 metres high plinth.
The saga of the viking Fridtjof originates from the Middle Ages and it was retold in verse in 1825 by the Swede Esaias Tegner. This book became very popular both in Scandinavia and in Germany, also with Emperor Wilhem II. Besides the Fridtjov statue in Vangsnes he erected a statue in Balestrand, the statue of King Bele, who is also mentioned in the Fridtjov Saga.
Wilhelm II was the Emperor of Germany from 1888-1918 and in this period he visited the Sognefjord regularly, usually a few weeks almost every year. He always arrived by his ship The Hohenzollern together with friends belonging to the German aristocracy. He was fascinated by Nordic culture and Norwegian history, and reading aloud from the Fridtjov Saga was a fre-quently repeated activity during his journeys.