Martin Luther Memorial Church

Berlin, Germany

Travel Information

Riegerzeile 1a, 12105 Berlin
U 6 Westphalweg
Location map (Google)

Gallery

northern façade and bell tower after reconstruction (2011) (photo: Alexander Bärike)

chandelier with iron cross

main hall seen from the organ loft

organ façade

western pillar with terracotta reliefs (detail)

pulpit with carvings

The Past

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Mariendorf parish planned to build a new church to make room for its growing community. In 1918, the parish bought a site at the Rathausstraße, where, as a first step, parish rooms were build in 1926-27.

Architect Curt Steinberg, who built the parish rooms, was commissioned to plan also the church. But due to the Great Depression, construction works could not begin before 1933. Two years later, in December 1935, the church was consecrated.

The church's exterior appearance is characterized by the combination of strictly vertical elements—pillars and the approximately 49 metres high tower—and a cladding of rectangular ceramic tiles in various shades of yellow and brown.

The entrance hall's side walls are decorated with terracotta portraits of Martin Luther and Paul von Hindenburg, Field Marshall in World War I and President of the German Republic from 1925 to 1934. The hall's chandelier shows the Iron Cross, surrounded with golden oak leaves.

Through the entrance hall one enters the barrel vaulted main hall of the church. It is 15 metres of height and built on an almost square plan. Its walls and pillars are covered with the same yellow-brown tiles used on the façades outside. To the south, the nave concludes in a semi-circular apse, whose stained glass windows were created in 1970 by Hans Gottfried von Stockhausen. To the north there is a Walcker organ from 1935, its front pipes are decorated with folkloristic ornaments.

The church's interior appearance is dominated by the archway, which is decorated with approximately 800 square tiles. The terracotta reliefs—designed by artist Heinrich Mekelburger—show Christian symbols side by side with heads of helmeted soldiers and symbols of the Nazi state, party, and mass-organisations. Swastikas and the symbol of the NS Volkswohlfahrt (National Socialist People's Welfare) were removed at the end of the war.

The oak-made baptismal font and pulpit were designed in 1935 by Hermann Möller. The carvings on the pulpit show Christ preaching to mothers, children, workers, and bourgeois, but among the listeners are also a soldier and a man in a Sturmabteilung (storm-troopers') uniform.

The Future

With its almost untouched iconography, the Martin Luther Memorial Church today is a notable example of religious art in the Nazi-era, and therefore a listed building.

Serious structural damage at the Martin-Luther-Gedächtniskirche required extensive refurbishment. The renovation of the church spire was completed in 2011, the measures at the facade are scheduled for 2016.

The Church will still be used by the Ev. Kirchengemeinde Berlin-Mariendorf for divine service and other religious purposes. Furthermore it shall be a multifunctional building for educational and cultural events like concerts, workshops, exhibitions and more.