The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church is one of Berlin’s most famous landmarks. Situated in the center of former West Berlin, the Church serves as a symbol of rebirth of post-war Berlin and a constant reminder of the destructive power of the war.
Originally built in 1895, the Old Church was commissioned by Kaiser Wilhelm II to commemorate his grandfather, Kaiser Wilhelm I. Built in Romanesque Revival style by Franz Schwechten, the Church was unusually ornate for a protestant church with almost 30,000 sq. ft. of mosaic decorating the interior walls and depicting the history of Prussia. It was badly damaged in an Allied air raid in November 1943 when the Church sustained irreparable damage and only its broken west tower remained standing. Post-war reconstruction plans called for the original church complete demolition, however, local opposition saved the remains of the church and they were incorporated in a revised design.
In 1961 a New Church complex was built which consisted of four buildings of concrete, steel and glass surrounding the remaining ruins of the old church. Built of bricks of glass coloured in distinctive blue with small inlays of ruby red, emerald green and yellow, the New Church houses several works of art reminding visitors of the WWII years. The first is a commemorative plaque to honor the Protestant martyrs who died during the Nazi regime. It was placed in the Church on July 20, 1964, a 20th anniversary of an attempt to assassinate Hitler. The second is the Stalingrad Madonna, a charcoal drawing of Virgin Mary drawn by German soldier Reuber during the Battle of Stalingrad. Copies of the drawing now hang in the cathedrals of Coventry in the UK and Volgograd in Russia as symbols of post-war reconciliation among the three countries. The third is an Icon of Virgin Mary from Volgograd.
The Memorial Hall houses three exhibits symbolising the history of the Church. A damaged Statue of Christ which stood on the altar of the destroyed part of the Old Church. To its right is the Cross of Nails which was made from the nails of the timber roof of the Coventry Cathedral badly damaged in a German air raid in November 1940. To the left from the statue is an Icon Cross given by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1988.