Posts Tagged ‘Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church’

Berlin Sculpture symbolizes city history

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Berlin is the capital of Germany, a city that was divided into East and West from 1945 to 1989 and brutally severed by the Berlin Wall from 1961 to 1989. But Berlin is also the name of a well-known sculpture, the Berlin Sculpture, located in the median of the Tauentzienstrasse, not far from the famous Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/iconic-kaiser-wilhelm-memorial-church/. If you are positioned just right, the sculpture will frame the church perfectly.

 

Berlin Sculpture in the median of Tauentzienstrasse with the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche in the background. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Berlin Sculpture in the median of Tauentzienstrasse with the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche in the background. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

How the Berlin Sculpture came about

In 1987, two years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the city celebrated its 750th anniversary http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/berlins-long-history/ To commemorate the occasion, the city of West Berlin commissioned a group of artists to create artistic sculptures for its main boulevard, the Kurfuerstendamm. The eight winning sculptures went on display. Husband-and-wife team, Brigitte Matschinsky-Denninghoff and Martin Matschinsky, created one of these eight sculptures and placed their creation within close proximity of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the house of worship that was so heavily damaged during the bombing of Berlin during World War II. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-battle-of-berlin-ended-wwII/

The Berlin sculpture consists of four chromed nickel steel tubes, shooting up into the sky, seemingly courting each other without touching. By placing the cylinders in close proximity, yet inaccessible to one another, the Matschinsky-Denninghoff sculpting team tried to represent Berlin’s situation in a symbolic way. From a certain angle, the Berlin Sculpture looks like a broken chain whose links are severed, which symbolizes the division of East and West.

To everyone’s surprise, only two years after the Berlin sculpture was created, the Berlin Wall fell quite unexpectedly. http://www.walled-in-berlin.com/j-elke-ertle/the-day-the-berlin-wall-fell/ Today, the sculpture is a reminder of Berlin’s history during the Cold War.

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom, click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com Walled-In is my story of growing up in Berlin during the Cold War.

 

 

 

Iconic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

Monday, December 12th, 2016

 

There are many memorials in Berlin that hark back to the city’s long and colorful history. But none touched me more than the protestant Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church (Kaiser Wilhelm Gedaechtniskirche) in the heart of the former West Berlin. Its damaged church tower is a reminder of the destructiveness of war.

aiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin, Germany, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin. com

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin, Germany, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2014. www.walled-in-berlin. com

History of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was originally built between 1891 and 1895. The last German Emperor and King of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhelm II, named it in honor of his grandfather Kaiser Wilhelm I. The foundation stone was laid on 22 March 1891, Wilhelm I’s birthday. With its 371-foot spire, the church was the tallest building in Berlin at the time. Inside it was decorated with stained glass windows and a large mosaic portraying the history of Prussia up to Emperor Wilhelm.

In 1943, the Neo-Romanesque church was largely destroyed during a bombing attack and the resulting fire. The subsequent air raids of 1945 leveled it almost completely. By the end of World War II, only the heavily damaged west tower of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church was left standing. Berliners dubbed it Hohler Zahn (hollow tooth).

Close-up view of the "Hohler Zahn", photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Close-up view of the “Hohler Zahn”, photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2015. www.walled-in-berlin.com

However, when the West Berlin government wanted to demolish the hollow spire in the 1950s, the public protested. In the end, the tower was left standing in its crippled state while a new church was constructed around it. The first floor of the damaged tower of the old church is now home to a memorial hall.

Reconstruction of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

The entire church stood heavily damaged until a new, octagonal church was built alongside the damaged tower between 1957 and 1963. A freestanding hexagonal bell tower was constructed next to the church, on the site of the former main nave of the destroyed church. Egon Eiermann designed the new construction.

The modern church bears little resemblance to its predecessor. Inside the octagonal nave of the new church, an enormous statue of Jesus, suspended above the altar, catches the eye. But the most striking feature of the new church is the intense blue light that pervades throughout the building, created by 21,000 colored blocks of glass. They were blown by hand in a French workshop. The predominant color is blue with small flecks of ruby red, emerald green and yellow.

21,000 blue glass blocks create an introspective atmosphere inside the reconstructed Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, photo © J. Elke Ertle. www.walled-in-berlin.com

21,000 blue glass blocks create an introspective atmosphere inside the reconstructed Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, photo © J. Elke Ertle. www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

Candles in memory of the victims of the 19 December 2016 terrorist attack in the Christmas Market next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

Candles in memory of the victims of the 19 December 2016 terrorist attack in the Christmas Market next to the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Photo © J. Elke Ertle, 2017. www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

For a sneak peek at the first 20+ pages of my memoir, “Walled-In: A West Berlin Girl’s Journey to Freedom,” click “Download a free excerpt” on the home page of http://www.walled-in-berlin.com

 

 

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