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Apostolic Apolegetics
World News

Historic Berlin church to get makeover, but keep Nazi symbols

by Tola Mbakwe

According to The Times, Martin Luther Memorial Church has a statue of a Nazi stormtrooper and a big stone arch above the altar is carved with a mixture of Christian and Nazi symbols.

There are also crowns of thorns, helmeted soldiers' heads and eagles clutching wreaths. The wreaths used to contain carved swastikas, but they were scratched out after the Second World War due to the Nazi symbol ban in Germany.

Apostolic Apolegetics
Stone carving on arch surrounding chancel of Martin Luther Memorial Church.

The church, which can house 1,000 people, is not in use on a regular basis but at times hosts Christmas services. 

Marion Gardei, a pastor who is commissioner for remembrance culture of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia told The Times that she would not attend a service in the building.

She said: "Its use remains controversial. When you go in you stand there in this altar room among all this Nazi symbolism."

The Times reports that Martin Luther Memorial Church has the most intact Nazi symbolism than any other church in Germany.

Apostolic Apolegetics
Wooden frieze carved into the side of the pulpit depicting Jesus standing next to a Nazi soldier and Aryan women and children.

Ten years ago the church authority campaigned to save from demolition in the name of preserving history, despite the fact it was deteriorating. Since then, discussion on how to deal with the church's controversial interior have been going on.

Gardei told The Times those historians, the church and an architect plan to use the church for exhibits on the Nazi era as well as for occasional services.

She said: "The concept is to take out the chairs, level the downward sloping floor and create a room within a room out of glass or transparent fabric.

"Worshippers would congregate be inside that structure for services.

"It remains to be seen how visible the symbols will be. The basic idea is that people will be shielded from them a bit during church services without them being totally negated."

"The plan could still be subject to change but a consensus had been reached between the parish, the church and the architect."

She added that demolishing the church shouldn't be an option.

She said: "We live in an age in which we scarcely have any eyewitnesses left to tell us about the Nazi era so these historic locations are growing in importance."

According to The Times, Martin Luther Memorial Church has placed notices explaining the historical context of the structure.

Other churches in Germany face similar dilemmas. A church in the village of Herxheim in southwestern Germany having a similar issue this year after the organist complained that one of its three bells had swastika and the inscription, "Everything for the Fatherland Adolf Hitler."

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