Tuesday, 20 December 2016

What would the Kaiser say?

The Breitscheidplatz in front of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church

A truck slammed into a crowded Christmas market in central Berlin on Monday night, killing at least 12 people and wounding 48, some critically.

The Scania-brand truck plowed up to 80 meters (260 feet) into the Christmas market near the iconic Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, along the Kurfürstendamm shopping mile, at around 8:30 p.m. local time as people were getting off work in the busy shopping district just days before Christmas.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church before WW II bombs damaged the building.

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church at Breitscheidplatz is one of Berlin's most famous landmarks. The ruin of the old church has been converted into a war memorial.

Built between 1891-95 in memory of Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first German Emperor and King of Prussia (1861-1888), by Franz Schwechten in neo-romanesque style, it was damaged on December 23rd, 1943 and subsequently almost completely destroyed during the April 1945 air-raids.

The construction of the church was part of a Protestant church building programme initiated by Kaiser Wilhelm II and his consort Empress Auguste Viktoria. In honour of Kaiser Wilhelm II's grandfather the church was named after Kaiser Wilhelm I. The competition for the design was won by Franz Schwechten, member of the Bauakademie who had distinguished himself with the design of the Anhalter Bahnhof.

The Hohenzollern Family remained attached to the church. It is said, that Kaiser Wilhelm II took the keys to the church into exile in Doorn. When his grandson and successor Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia died, a memorial service was held in the Kaiser Wilhelm Gedächtniskirche.

On 4th December 1965 Prince Louis Ferdinand's eldest daughter Princess Marie-Cecile married Duke Friedrich August of Oldenburg in the Berlin church.

No assassination can rob this prestigious place its dignity. The noble church and the family that have been associated with it have endured many moments of sadness and sorrow.

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