Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

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The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (in German: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche) is located in the very centre of former West Berlin, on the Kurfürstendamm (Ku’damm shopping street) in the center of the Breitscheidplatz. This part of the town is still the commercial centre of the city with famous Europa centre nearby. Although it does not look like that, it is still working church today, being also a landmark of Berlin as well as the memorial of the war.

The old church was built in honour of the emperor Kaiser Wilhelm I between 1891 and 1895, actually ordered by his grandson Kaiser Wilhelm II. The plans were made by Franz Schwechten and the church was built in neo-Romanesque style. Its interior was decorated by the scenes of life and work of Wilhelm I.

On 3 November 1943 the church was destroyed by Allied bombing and the only part that preserved was the ruin of the belfry – the west tower of the church, which reminds the hole in the tooth (and it is also referred to it as to “der Hohle Zahn”).

After World War II it was decided that the new church would be built, but the Berliners wanted to keep the old one as well. So the architect Egon Eirman incorporated the old ruined tower into a unique eight sided church and a separate hexagonal tower. The construction began in 1951 and was finished in 1961; the church was consecrated on 25 May 1962.

The new church is glazed with blue glass blocks. Although they are not apparent from the outside, from the inside they are breathtaking as the sunlight streams through. The huge door is made of aluminium.

Besides a cross made of nails from the old Coventry Cathedral (destroyed by Nazi bomb attacks in Britain), it contains also an iconic cross of the Russian Orthodox Church and a graphic known – Stalingrad Madonna, made in December 1942 in Stalingrad (present Volgograd) by Lieutenant Kurt Reuber, as symbols of reconciliation between the three countries that were once at war.

Below the west tower of the destroyed church, there is a Gedenkhalle or Memorial Hall that 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. Moreover, there are some mosaic decoration and reliefs that survived the bombing.
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