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by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
December 9, 2009
The church’s interior was decorated with 2,740 square meters of wall mosaics depicting scenes from German Imperial history, with the aim of placing the Hohenzollerns (who were descended from the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights) within this tradition. Some of these are still visible in what remains of the entrance hall, which has been converted into a memorial hall, which contains a cross forged from nails found in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral (which was destroyed by Luftwaffe raids) as well as a cross given by a pair of Russian Orthodox bishops in memory of the victories of Nazism. The spire originally stood 113 meters high, of which only 63 meters are left. As a small plaque explains, the church has been left in ruins as a monument to the futility of war.
Although not a historical monument on a par with its predecessor, the new church, built next door, on the sight of the old church’s nave, makes an interesting counterpoint. Its hexagonal bell tower is 53.5 meters high, with a flat roof, and has been nicknamed "the Lipstick and Powderbox" by Berliners. Designed by Egon Eiermann, it is worth stepping inside as it’s highly unusual in that its walls are made primarily of blue glass set in steel and concrete, with the result that it glows blue when illuminated at night. (The clock on its tower is lit blue by diodes as well). I personally found this color incredibly calming, and it makes a nice and hopeful counterpoint to the jagged edge of the ruin next door, whose importance you might want to consider while sitting inside.
From journal Berlin - Monuments
Northern Va Suburbs of DC, Virginia
February 17, 2003
From journal "Achtung Baby" Berlin in October
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 22, 2004
Only the tower of the memorial church survived the destruction of 1943, which razed the city to the ground. Today only 63m high, it once rose to 113m. The hole in the tower’s roof has a sharply ragged edge which is why the tower was nicknamed "hollow tooth" by the Berliners. The Neo-Romanesque church was given the name of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in 1189, to honour Wilhelm I. Next to it, Eiermann erected a new church in 1957-63 where religious services are now conducted.
On the interior, one of the mosaics that has been preserved depicts Emperor Heinrich I on his throne, with imperial orb and sceptre. Originally decorated throughout with scenes from German imperial history, the church interior was meant to place the Hohenzollerns within this tradition and adorns the vestibules of the church ruins. It depicts Emperor Wilhelm I, together with Queen Luise of Prussia and her entourage.
A small crucifix, forged from old nails that were found in the ruins of the Coventry Cathedral, commemorates the bombings of Coventry, England, by the German Luftwaffe in 1940. There is another cross, a gift from the Russian Orthodox bishops of Volokolomsk and Yuruyev, given in memory of victims of Nazism.
The new hexagonal bell tower rises 53m high next to the tower ruins, on the site of the old church’s main nave. The golden figure of Christ created by Karl Hemmeter is suspended above the modern main altar in the new church. In the evening light, the windows behind the altar glow an overwhelming dark blue. The tower bears a clock based on a Classical design, with Roman numerals. At night, it is lit in blue by modern light, emitting diodes to match the lighting inside the new church.
From journal Berlin, the Beautiful
by Mr. Wonka
Brooklyn, New York
March 11, 2003
This neo-Gothic Protestant church was built in the early 1890s by Germany's last emperor, Wilhelm II, as a lasting tribute to his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I. Little did he know that about 50 years later, on November 22, 1943, it would be victimized by Allied bombing. After the rubble had been cleared, Berlin officials decided to keep the church in its debilitated state as a forlorn reminder of the destruction of war.
Today, the church is open for visitors to admire the tiled religious murals and the few statues that weren't irreparably damaged by the bombing. A modern building was constructed alongside the church, giving this site the ever-popular "old meets new" dichotomy. It’s one of the most well-known landmarks in Berlin, and is a must-see for anyone interested in exploring the historical roots of this great city.
From journal Wait a minute, was I really in Berlin?
February 7, 2003
From journal Weekend in Berlin