The Kurfurstendamm, or K-Damm, is one of the liveliest streets in Europe. This is where Berliners go for a good time. But standing in the middle is the remnant of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church.
Built in 1895 to honor Kaiser Wilhelm I, it was nearly destroyed by heavy Allied bombing in World War II. After the war, most of Berlin was rebuilt. But this church was left in its burned out condition as a reminder of those days. Egon Eiermann, an architect from Karlsruhe, designed the new church that stands beside the old one. It has 20,000 pre-fabricated concrete units, with windows from Chartres, France. Completed in 1961, it's been nicknamed the "Compact and Lipstick" by locals. The old wrecked church is nicknamed the "Hollow Tooth." After the Brandenburg Gate, this is one of the city's best-known landmarks.
This broken,destroyed church at the end of the Ku'damm main shopping street has been left as it was ,after the bombings of the Second World War, unlike most of the other buildings in Berlin which have been restored or completely rebuilt.
It stands as a chilling reminder and as a monument to the war and those who died.
Nothing much to add except that it is definitely worth a look ,and I hope that it will serve to remind people of the stupidity of man's inhumanity to man.Next to it there is a little garden with a strange modern sculpture and some nice flowers.
The church was built between 1891 and 1895 in honour of Wllhelm I and was struck by bombs from air raids in 1943 and 1945 changing it from what was regarded as an ugly church into one of the most well known tourist sites in Berlin. Work started in 1959 on a new church next to the old one and was finished in 1963. There are 3 guided tours around the church each day except Sundays.
The Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks. The damaged tower is a symbol of Berlin's resolve to rebuild the city after the war and a constant reminder of the destruction of war.
After allied bombing in November 1943, only the broken west tower of the church was still standing. Local opposition saved the structure from demolition in the 1950s and in 1961 a new, octagonal church designed by Egon Eiermann was built alongside the existing tower.
A freestanding hexagonal bell tower was constructed on the site of the former main nave of the destroyed church. A third and small rectangular building is also part of the new complex.
The church is a reinforced concrete structure with blue-colored glass bricks.
Below the west tower of the destroyed church is a Gedenkhalle or Memorial Hall. It documents the history of the church and contains several of the original objects in the church as well as photos from before and after the bombing. Some of the mosaic decoration and reliefs that survived can be seen, especially on the ceiling.
This was a really interesting place to check out.....and easy to find...and once again.....really CLOSE to the Ambassador Hotel where I was staying....about a fifteen minute walk.....
Emperor Wilhelm II ordered the construction of the church in honor of his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm.Mosaics inside the church recalled the life and work of Emperor Wilhelm...some of these mosaics survived the bombing and can be seen today.
The Church was built in the late 1800's and was bombed out by the RAF in 1943...I talk about a "contrast" because in fact there is "new" section rebuilt after the war in the fifties I believe...a modern structure that really looks strange beside the remains of the original building...In fact the whole area was flattened during the war and the Church is smack in the center of a modern bustling city.
There is a small museum ...I cant remember if it was right inside the original part of the Church...I sort of think it was....in any case there are exhibits about the history of the building and well worth a look!
Reduced to ruins in World War II, this Neo-Romanesque building was spared from removal by the protest of thousands of Berlin's citizens. With the addition of the modern-style tower and chapel by Egon Eiermann, it became on iconic symbol of post-war West Berlin.
The major attraction in former West Berlin is the Gedächtniskirche. The church was destroyed during World War II. Only the destroyed tower of the old church survived and now serves as a remembrance of those days. Next to the tower stands a modern chapel.
One of the most striking monuments to the desecration of war is the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedachtniskirche, destroyed by British bombing in 1943 with only one wing and the belfry still standing. Original construction was in 1891-5 commissioned by Emperor Wilhelm II in honor of his grandfather Wilhelm I, a Romanesque Protestant church to plans by Franz Schwechten. It is located at the eastern end of Ku'damm in the former center of West Berlin near Breitscheidplatz and the KaDeWe department store.
After the war, between 1951-61 reconstruction of an ultramodern replacement incorporated the remains of the old building as a constant reminder of the terrors of war and the damage suffered by Germany. The new building contains, in addition to a functioning church, a section with relics from the old building.
The dramatic exterior of Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is matched by a very interesting interior. The original building houses the Memorial Hall, with walls, ceiling and floor, covered in the most wonderful mosaics. The mosaic in the photo is in the centre of the floor and is a detail of Arkangel Michael slaying a dragon. Unfortunately, the wall and ceiling mosaics are not in such pristine condition as this one and photographing them proved quite hard. They are primarily blue with a lot of gold and go right around the walls in a pictorial account of the Hohenzollern family. These are stunning frescoes but unfortunately my photos all turned out under- exposed and higlighting only the cracks. The second photo illustrates this point but you can still get an idea of how impressive they are. Here in this hall also are the crucifix from the original church, the Cross of Nails from Coventry in England and the Iron Cross of the Russian Orthodox Church. These are symbols of peace and reconciliation.
Inside the 'bunker' is quite a revelation. This building of pre-fabricated concrete has a double shell with a small cavity between the inner and outer walls. Here lamps are installed, illuminating the 21,292 panes of stained glass which make up the interior grid. These were designed by the French artist Gabriel Loire. The effect is surprisingly appealing and there's something very peaceful about all that blue light. Hanging over the altar is a statue of Christ with arms outstretched, by Munich artist Karl Herrmeter. This is brass and copper but the effect is of gold on blue, seemingly suspended in thin air without any assistance.
I loved this church and lit some candles there despite the fact that it is of course a Protestant place of worship. My poor Irish Catholic mother would turn in her grave if she knew.
I only visited the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church to get out of the rain. Inside I joined a guided tour and was surprised at how interesting it was. The tour was given by a mathematics student who was passionate enough about his subject to incite enthusiasm in his audience. The tour begins in the central part of what's now a trio of buildings, the main hall and tower of the original church. This is what you see in the photograph and it was built in honour of Kaiser Wilhelm 1 between 1891-1895.
This central part of the church now serves as a Memorial Hall ( details in the following tip ) and the actual place of worship is across the courtyard. When you walk along the Ku'damm the partly ruined church stands out like a sore thumb, but standing out even more is the squat, ugly, black bunker -type structure next to it. This is the new church and on the other side of the tower, in matching ugly matt-black, is the belfry. (Photo 2 )
These new buildings were constructed after public opinion decided that the remains of the church, practically the only building in the area to survive the bombing, should not be demolished. For Berliners it's a reminder of past and a comitment to present.
To see how it all works out, let's look at the interior.
The Nail Cross of Coventry has a prominent place in the magnificent Memorial Hall of Gedächtniskirche.
On 14 November 1940 a German airstrike demolished the city centre of Coventry including its Gothic cathedral from the 14th and 15th century. Already in January 1941 the people of Coventry held mass again in the burnt out church, having rebuilt an altar from rubble, and using charcoaled beams as the holy cross. They prayed for forgiveness and included those who once created the mess in their prayers, and this made them overcome their hatred.
They also made a cross with three hand-forged nails they found in the rubble. It became the Nail Cross of Coventry, as the symbol for reconciliation around the world in post-war times.
On 7 January 1989, on the occasion of the inauguration of the historic Memorial Hall, the Nail Cross of Coventry was given to Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtnis-Kirche as a gift. There it is kept as a reminder of peace and reconciliation.
This Memorial Hall is an incredibly spectacular place. It is located in the main portal of the old church and thus in the tower ruin, and has been opened in 1987. It left me speechless for a moment when I entered as I just did not expect such Russian orthodox splendour, gold everywhere, icons, an arched golden ceiling over and over painted with icons, reliefs and sandstone and marble mosaics, and a brilliant tiled marble floor.
As you can expect this hall is an anti-war memorial, and it holds some precious exhibits which put stress on the virtue of reconciliation. First of all the Nail Cross of the Cathedral of Coventry (see extra tip), then an Icon Cross of the Russian Orthodox Church. Both have been given to Gedächtniskirche by the Christians of both countries. Finally the hall holds the damaged figure of Christ from the altar of the demolished church.
Every Friday at 1pm they pray the reconciliation prayer of the Cathedral of Coventry in the Memorial Hall, instead of the noon prayer in the church.
Whereas the church opens at 9am, the Memorial Hall is only open from 11am.
The new church – a simple octagonal room - was inaugurated on 17 December 1961. It is famous for its blue glass walls which were design by Gabriel Loire from the French town of Chartres. The artist used more than 16,000 of 30,000 glass mosaics which were laid into concrete frames. Those again were put into honeycomb-like big frames, and those panels were finally transported to Berlin and mounted into the steel frames of the construction. Loire said he used mostly blue glass because blue is the colour of peace.
And really, those walls give this modern room a very peaceful feeling, and depending on the direction of the sunlight the reflections and lighting are subject to permanent changes.
The centre-piece of the hall is a huge golden-looking figure of Christ after the resurrection, floating above the altar.
It is made of a material called Tombak which is a kind of pewter with high copper content. It was created by the Munich artist Karl Hemmeter, is 4.60 metres tall and weighs about 300 kilos.
The church’s organ has 5000 pipes.
This church at the end of eastern end of Kurfürstendamm is the West’s most striking reminder of the war, and the tower ruin has been left in its pityful condition, so people will always remember how important peace is, and we do not forget, or deny what has happened in the past.
The church had been built from 1891 to 1895, and named after Germany’s first emperor, Wilhelm (William) I. His grandson Wilhelm II had requested the construction, and it soon became the symbol of the New West. The pointed tower, 113 metres high, was the highest building of the city.
After being hugely damaged in World War II (November 1943) it was planned to demolish the church completely but the tower – called Hollow Tooth – had already become the new symbol of the city, and so after the biggest cultural discussion Germany has ever seen the country’s so-called most beautiful ruin was conserved.
The architect Egon Eiermann who had won the competition agreed half-heartedly but not convinced to a compromise which made the 68 metre high torso of the tower the centre-piece of the new four-fold complex. The tower is now used as a memorial hall and exhibition room, the new church is placed in front of the former main portal, and the new clock tower is where the nave once was. To the sides are two low buildings which are used as a chapel and a foyer which is the administration centre of the community.
The new tower is 53.5 metres high, and is crowned by a 1.80 m high golden cross on a 5.3 m long pole. Below the cross sits a golden ball. The tower is built in the same style as the octagonal new church hall. It holds six bronze bells. The biggest one weights 5600 kilos.
At the moment the church asks for donations which are urgently needed for the renovation of the crumbling old tower. They have an info hotline for this: (030) 3109 - 4000
Open daily 9am – 7pm (church), Memorial Hall from 11am
Guided tours (church) Mon – Sat 1.15pm, 2pm and 3pm
The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Chirch is located on the Kurfürstendamm and you just can't miss it. During World War II, the church was destroyed and the only remainder of the old building is the ruin of the belfry. After the war the new church was built alongside the ruins of the old building, which were kept as reminders of the horrors of war.