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Berlin's "Broken Tooth" church needs cash for repair





BERLIN, Aug 12 (Reuters) - One of Berlin's best-known landmarks, the war-ravaged Gedaechtniskirche church, is threatened with closure unless it finds millions of euros for repairs to its crumbling neo-gothic stone facade.

Built in 1895 as a memorial to Kaiser Wilhelm I -- whose Prussian troops invaded France, Austria and Denmark and forged modern Germany -- the "Memorial Church" in west Berlin is now a a symbol of the immense cost of war and a popular tourist site.

During World War Two bombing, the church nave and much of its spire were destroyed, but instead of being demolished like many other buildings in postwar Berlin, public protests ensured the ruins were preserved.

In the early 1960s modern church buildings were added around the damaged 68-metre (223 feet) high tower -- nicknamed the "Broken Tooth" for its jagged silhouette.

Now, though, the effect of icy winters and traffic vibration means chunks of the facade risk falling on to passersby if expensive repairs are not carried out by next year.

"We estimate 4.1 million euros ($6.1 million) is needed. The tower is very badly damaged," said Marko Rosteck, spokesman for Berlin's urban development office.

While the city-state of Berlin, which has debts of 60 billion euros, could provide 1.5 million, the federal government and private donors would have to find the rest, Rosteck said.

Wolfgang Kuhla, who chairs the church's management board, said around half a million euros had been raised so far, and he was aiming for over a million. If private donations did not fill the gap, he hoped the federal government would step in.

"The tower is definitely a big symbol for Berlin. As a ruin it's certainly the most important memorial for reconciliation in Berlin, and possibly in Germany," he said.

One of the first donations had come from British airman Charles Gray, who flew bombing missions over Germany during World War Two, Kuhla said.

Calls to preserve the church, located near the Berlin Zoo and bustling "Ku'damm" shopping boulevard in the heart of the former west, have also caught Berliners' imagination.

One supermarket chain is organising a rubber-duck race along the capital's Spree river to raise money, while Berlin artists have donated paintings to auction.

But newspapers have questioned why the city government has failed to come up with more cash, given the hundreds of millions spent on other construction projects.

Some have suggested Berlin's ruling coalition, a partnership of Social Democrats and the ex-communist Left party, has little sympathy for a religious building in the former west Berlin.

Tourists visiting the Gedaechtniskirche this week agreed it was worth preserving.

"There are other big buildings in Berlin that cost a lot of money too, and I think this one is more important than the new buildings," said Anja Heeren, a mortgage advisor from Amsterdam.

"It's about what the world war did to Germany as well as the rest of Europe. I think it's important to remember the heavy damage."
 

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Part of me wants to see the structure entirely restored. :cheers:


 

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As much as I like the architecture of the new church and its bell tower that looks like a replica of a supertall skyscraper, I would like to see the church restored in full just like Dresden's Frauenkirche.
 

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As much as I like the architecture of the new church and its bell tower that looks like a replica of a supertall skyscraper, I would like to see the church restored in full just like Dresden's Frauenkirche.
Why? So we can pretend nothing ever happened?
 

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Frauenkirche in Dresden was at first a memorial too, but they then decided to rebuild it. Maybe this could happen here too? Would be great, considering how ugly the ruin is.
 

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Why? So we can pretend nothing ever happened?
How does rebuilding destroyed landmarks make us forget? :sly: It is insanity to leave your city littered with ruins in the name of "remembering" things. That is what monuments are for. Besides, the Germans don’t need a ruined church to remember WWII.
 

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How does rebuilding destroyed landmarks make us forget? :sly: It is insanity to leave your city littered with ruins in the name of "remembering" things. That is what monuments are for. Besides, the Germans don’t need a ruined church to remember WWII.
I support the structural strengthening of the spire, but not rebuilding it to the point that it no longer shows the war damage.

The whole point this church is so famous is because of its shattered state - its a reminder of the past.

Rebuilding it to its pre-war state would be tacky.

"thats what monuments are for" - this is Berlin, not Indianapolis.
 

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I support the structural strengthening of the spire, but not rebuilding it to the point that it no longer shows the war damage.

The whole point this church is so famous is because of its shattered state - its a reminder of the past.

Rebuilding it to its pre-war state would be tacky.
Tacky? IMO, it would be a restoration that shows Germany recovered, progressed, and moved on.
"thats what monuments are for" - this is Berlin, not Indianapolis.
What does that have to do with anything?
 

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Hmm .. keeping the entire ruined church would have amplified the impact. Why was the rest removed?
from english wiki

"The church was largely destroyed but part of the spire and much of the entrance hall survived.[4]

New Church was designed by Egon Eiermann and consists of four buildings grouped around the remaining ruins of the old church. The initial design included the demolition of the spire of the old church but following pressure from the public, it was decided to incorporate it into the new design.[5] "

From german wikipedia translated with google translater

"On the part of the National Socialists, there was a commitment to the community, the Memorial Church was destroyed in post-war Berlin as big and grand rebuild. The victors of the Second World War did, in contrast to relatively hard with this planning, the building reflected but also reflects the Wilhelmine-German national pride. Thus, the ruins were initially left to their decay. Only in 1956 they began to demolish the dilapidated choir.

In March 1957, won Egon Eiermann the architectural competition to rebuild the church. His model was, in favor of a modern building, the complete demolition of the ruins. These plans have created an unusually passionate public debate. It ended with a compromise that was accepted by both the architect as well as by the citizens reluctantly. The 71 meters [2] high ruins of the old main tower, remained localized in secured, preserved as a memorial to the war, surrounded by a four-building ensemble according to the plans Eiermann
"

So the rest was demolished because of this new church. But you still may ask why they didn't resuce the all ruin, stablise all and building the new church somewhere else or only the tower of the new church. that could have been done as you can see.

Dont build that smaller thing, but replaced it with the new church tower in front of the damaged old tower. That would have been an option. Call me a brick or a jerk, but imo even the ruin looks better than the new church.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped...r-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche-2007_retouched.jpg

I still say it wasn't neccessary to demolish the large part of the ruin.


In December 2007, Charles Jeffrey Gray, a former British pilot who carried out World War II bombing raids over Germany, joined a campaign to rescue the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church from decay. After reading about the condition of the Church, Gray contacted Wolfgang Kuhla, the chairman of the church's advisory board, urging that its tower be restored. In response, a fund was launched to help raise the costs of its repair.[15]:banana:
 
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