Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche

The Gedächtniskirche or Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is the symbolic centre of West Berlin, an anti-war memorial to peace and reconciliation.
Die Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche
© dpa

Following Allied bombing during WWII, the original, west tower has remained standing as a ruin and is referred to as the “hollow tooth” it is literally an empty husk. Immediately recognizable and located on Breitscheidplatz at the start of the busy shopping district which includes Tauentnzienstrasse and Ku’damm, this is the only building on the square which was spared by the bombing and deliberately preserved as partly a ruin.
Built between 1891 and 1895 in neo-Romanesque style in memory of Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first German Emperor (1861-1888, by Franz Schwechten in neo-Romanesque style, it was damaged on December 23rd, 1943 and subsequently almost completely destroyed during the April 1945 air-raids.

The Gedenkhalle (Memorial Hall) contains photographic exhibits of the church and the surrounding area before and after the war. Other exhibits of interest are liturgical objects from bygone days and mosaics.

The church remained heavily damaged until 1956 when the new building was built following Egon Einermann’s winning project for an adjacent modern church that included an octagonal hall and a bell tower. This was erected between 1957 and 1963 and the nave had to be removed. The modern tower, which not everyone likes, consists of an octagonal structure and a six-sided bell tower. Its peculiarity is blue shimmering light, achieved by leaving an inner cavity of 2m between the inner and outer walls with lamps which emit a blue hue to the inside and outside of the structure. Over 20,000 elements of stained glass make up the walls of the modern church, consecrated on May 25 1962, the same day as the new Coventry Cathedral in the UK, also a victim of WWII bombs.

Inside the church is an aluminium baptismal font filled with Carrara marble pebbles, an organ from the Schuke workshop in Berlin-Lichterfelde with over 5,000 pipes, a suspended brass figure of a resurrected Christ, a martyr’s memorial commemorating Protestant martyrs of the Nazi regime and the Cross of Nails from Coventry and the icon cross from the Russian Orthodox Church, all designed to keep alive the theme of reconciliation.
The chime in the old tower was composed by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and can be heard every hour.

The city of Berlin has already allocated 1.5 million Euros for much-needed renovation – the steeple and stone façade need to be reinforced – and a “Save the Tower Campaign” foundation is hoping to raise the required 3 million Euros needed to avoid long-term decay.
The Foyer and Chapel are also used by the active parish for regular family services, christenings and weddings.
The shop sells postcards, guides and souvenirs.

The surrounding Breitscheidplatz on the Ku’damm is a place to sit around in the open-air cafés and the nearby 22-storey Europa Center erected in 1965 by Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petshnigg, is a popular a shopping and leisure centre.

Address: Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtnis Kirche
Kurfürstendamm 237
10719 Berlin
Phone: 030 2 18 50 23
Internet: www.gedaechtniskirche.com
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 9-19 (Church)
Guided Tours: Mon-Sat at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm;
Mon, Fri and Sat additional at 10am, 11am and Noon

Public transportation

Copyright: Berlin Images
Last edited: 30. January 2014

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(Bilder: Accorhotels 2012; dpa; VisitBerlin; BerlinOnline/argus/flashpics/fotolia.com; Antje Kraschinski)