Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The construction of the church was part of a Protestant church-building programme initiated by Kaiser Wilhelm II to counter the German labour and socialist movement by a return to traditional religious values. Wilhelm II decided to name the church in honour of his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I.

He built a large church in a Neo-Romanesque style modeled on the Bonn Minster with a Tuff stone facade. His design included 2,740 square metres of wall mosaic, a 113 metres high spire (what we see today is the rump of 71 metres) and a nave which seated over 2,000 people. The foundation stone was laid 1891,the church was completed in 1895.

In World War II, on the night of 23 November 1943, the church was extensively damaged in an air raid. Yet it was by no means beyond repair. A remnant of the spire and much of the entrance hall survived intact, as did the altar and the baptistery.[4] After the war, in 1947, the curatorium of the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche foundation decided in favour of rebuilding the church, but the manner in which this should be done was contentiously debated until the late 1950s. In a two-phased design competition in 1956, the question of whether the secured remnant of the spire should be torn down or preserved was left open. The winner of the competition, architect Egon Eiermann, initially proposed, in both his submissions, for the remnant of the old spire to be torn down, in favour of a completely new construction. But that plan provoked a public outcry in which the ruined tower was characterized as the "heart of Berlin"; as a result Eiermann revised the design to preserve the tower. He had most of the remaining structure pulled down, in order to build the modern church that now occupies most of the site.

The new buildings are constructed of concrete, steel and glass. The walls of the church are made of a concrete honeycomb containing 21,292 stained glass inlays. The glass, designed by Gabriel Loire, was inspired by the colours of the glass in Chartres Cathedral. The predominant colour is blue. The church has a capacity of over 1,000.

Inside the church, opposite the entrance, is a figure of the Crucifix which is suspended above the altar. The cross on the altar is of gilt silver with 37 rock crystals. To the left of the altar is the baptismal font on a stand filled with Carrara marble which contains a majolica bowl for the holy water. To the right of the altar is an octagonal pulpit. Opposite the altar on a gallery is an organ containing about 5,000 pipes. Plexiglas panels have been installed over the organ gallery to improve the acoustics.

By the northeast wall of the church are three works of art. The first is a bronze plaque commemorating the Protestant martyrs who died during the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. Next to this is the Stalingrad Madonna, a symbol of hope and reconciliation. This is a charcoal drawing made by Kurt Reuber during the time he was trapped inside Stalingrad at Christmas 1942. The third item of art is an icon of the Virgin Mary from Stalingrad.

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Berlin Holiday