My day began with visiting the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. This church has a lot of sentimental value for me. I first learned about this church in November 2006, after arriving in Berlin with Sharon for my first European trip……ever!!! We were staying close to the church, so it was the first historical landmark I took pictures of on my first trip to Europe.
History of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
The original church was dedicated to Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first German emperor. It was built in the 1890’s. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the grandson of the first German emperor, chose to name the church in his grandfather’s honor. Kaiser Wilhelm II was the last of the German emperors and was in power during the construction of the church as well as during World War I.
The significance of the church in history is the damage it received during World War II. In November 1943, the church was extensively damaged in air raid bombings. Parts of the church survived, including the spire, as seen in the picture below.
The entrance hall in the old church is open to visitors which includes some of the damaged relics as well as the history of the church, including some very interesting pictures from the past.
Things have changed in the 11 years since I saw the church. In 2007, a British pilot who was involved in the bombing raids over Germany during the war heard about the deteriorating condition of the old church. His desire to restore it helped initiate a campaign to pay for the funding of that.
The New Church
The new church was consecrated in 1961. The front of the inside of the church with its altar is shown in the Featured Image in this post. It is quite different from many of the modern churches I have visited throughout Europe.
Christmas Market – 2016
During the Christmas holidays, a market is set up on the area surrounding the church and the plaza near it. It was in December 2016, when a truck crashed into the market killing 12 people. Outside the church is a memorial dedicated to these people who came from six different countries.
As I was standing there, many people walked up to the memorial looking at the pictures and standing there in a moment of silence. The memorial is a reminder that we live in a different world today than when my generation grew up. Whether it’s a Christmas Market, a mall or a school, there are people in the world today who are set on disrupting the lives of innocent people I find it quite painful to visit these sites. Last summer I also visited one in London. Each time my chest gets tight and tears come to my eyes, but I believe it’s something I need to do to pay my respects just as those other people did who visited the memorial when I was there.