Saturday, August 7, 2010

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Previous post: The Gardens at Charlottenburg

One of the places on Dad’s must-see list was Kaiser Wilhelm Church, which is preserved today as a memorial and reminder of the devastation of war.

It was built as a protestant church in the 1890s on the orders of Kaiser Wilhelm II and mostly destroyed by allied bombing during World War II.

Rather than restore, rebuild, or simply demolish the structure, it has been left as a graphic reminder of the war.

Meanwhile, a boxy new church (visible through the open archways) has been built in segments around it.

Gudrun isn’t aware that you can actually enter the building and Dad doesn’t remember there being much inside, but of course I want to go in, so we do.

Once inside, we discover a glittery portrayal of Germany in an earlier day, a parade of Hohenzollern rulers and other symbols of imperial Germany are portrayed amid glistening mosaics. Among them, Emperor Heinrich I on his throne.

While there is little that remains from the original church, that these mosaics (cleaned, we suspect, since my Dad was last here) survived at all seems rather amazing.

It is a glorious, somber, and thought-provoking space.

Next door, the ugly block that is the new church gives way to an interior that is, in its simple way, as glorious and inspiring as that of the old church.


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