Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by becks on October 3, 2002

The Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche (Emperor Wilhelm Memorial Church) is not much older than a century but it has a significant importance for the people of Berlin. It commemorates the life of Kaiser Wilhelm I (not the Second of World War One fame), but was severely damaged by bombing during the Second World War. After the war it was decided not to repair the church but to let its' damaged appearance serve as a reminder of the devastation that war brings. It was located at the heart of West Berlin and a poignant symbol in a city that rebuilt as fast as possible to show off the wealth and progress of the capitalist West compared to the Communist controlled East.

All that is left of the church is the central part with the tower knocked off – it has the appearance and thus the nickname of "hollow tooth". Seeing the inside proved to be more of a challenge than it should have been – it was often closed despite signs proclaiming it to be open and we only managed to enter it on our fifth attempt!

Once inside it is pretty small. Of interest are the wall decorations and several mosaics depicting scenes from the life of Kaiser Wilhelm. Amazingly some of the mosaics escaped the bombing almost undamaged. There is also a cross made of two iron nails that were found in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral and presented to the German people as a sign of peace.

If you're interested in German history, especially the very interesting latter part of the nineteenth century, you can take in the church in a few minutes. However, guided tours in German take more than half an hour and go into great detail about the lives and events depicted in the scenes.

Next to the old church are two modern constructions consisting mainly of blue glass blocks – the glass came from Chartres as a symbol of peace. These buildings are locally known as the powder box and lipstick. The powder box being a hexagon building used as a church assembly hall and the lipstick being a bell tower. In the bell tower is a Third World Shop and rather disappointing none of the blue glass is reflected inside. This must be the most visited and least bought from shop in Berlin, as disappointed tourists making a 30 second walk around trying to figure out how do you go up! The reflection of the blue glass can fully be appreciated in the "powder box" assembly hall. Here 12 minute church services including song, sermon, and prayers are held each afternoon in German with longer sermons, also in English, on Sundays.

The large square between the church and the now very much out of date and out of fashion Europe Shopping Center brims with life all day with street performers and mainly people just hanging out.

Berlin, Germany, 10789
+49 30 218 50 23


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