Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, Berlin

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Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks. The church was originally built between 1891 and 1895 by the last German Emperor and King of Prussia, Kaiser Wilhelm II, as a mark of honor for his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I. It was one of the most beautiful churches in the then province of Brandenburg, with unusually ornate interiors, stained glass windows and a large mosaic depicting the history of Prussia up until Emperor William himself.

Fifty years later, during the Second World War, allied bombing on Berlin leveled the church to the ground. Only the partially destroyed spire stood, like a “hollow tooth” as the locals called it. The damaged bell tower was supposed to be demolished to make way for a new construction, but Berliners protested in favor of integrating the ruins into the new church. The preserved ruin now remains as a famous and poignant reminder of the horrors of war, as well as a symbol of Berliners’ determination to rebuild their city during the period after the war.

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Photo credit: Thomas Favre-Bulle/Flickr

The new octagonal church was built between 1957 and 1963, alongside the existing tower. The church consists of honeycomb-like concrete elements, fitted with thousands of stained glass panels.

The ruined tower of the old church is now home to a memorial hall containing several objects from the original church such as the damaged statue of Christ which originally stood on the altar of the old church. Nails recovered from the roof timbers of Coventry Cathedral, that was also damaged in an air raid, was used to create a Cross of Nails. The hall also contains photos from before and after the bombing.

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The old church. Photo credit: Library of Congress

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Photo credit: Tilemahos Efthimiadis/Flickr

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Photo credit: Sean P Scott/Flickr

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Photo credit: Jeff Keyzer/Flickr

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The new tower and the old tower. Photo credit: Norman Z/Flickr

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Photo credit: Paul Kamblock/Flickr

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Photo credit: Savagecats/Flickr

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Interior of the old church. Photo credit: Tina Monumentalia/Flickr

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Interior of the new church. Photo credit: mararie/Flickr

Sources: A View on Cities / Wikipedia

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