Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ecclesia sanctissimi Salvatoris in portu sacro

Glienicke Bridge around 1912
When you take the Bundesstraße 1 (Federal Highway 1) from Potsdam to Berlin you will cross the Havel river on Glienicker Brücke and possibly stop for a photo shooting.

Photo shooting in November 2011. The sign reads:
Germany and Europe were divided here until November 10, 1989 at 6 p.m.
©Wikipedia/Mariluna


During the Cold War the bridge was the border between the East German Democratic Republic (GDR) and West Berlin frequently serving as an exchange point for spies. The most famous swap took place on February 10, 1962 when the Soviets handed over U-2 pilot Gary Powers and American student Frederic Pryor for Soviet KGB Colonel Vilyam Fisher aka Rudolf Ivanowich Abel. The USSR honored its spy with a stamp just in the year when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ceased to exist splitting up in autonomous republics.


When you stand on Glienicke Bridge and look north over the waters you notice in the far distance a building with a spire, the Heilandskirche of Sacrow.

Ecclesia sanctissimi Salvatoris in portu sacro (©dpda)
The Ecclesia sanctissimi Salvatoris in portu sacro (Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in the Sacred Port) is located on the waterfront of Jungfernsee (Virgins' Lake). In the Latin title the Slavic name of the place Sacrow (za krowje means behind the bushes) was changed to sacro, the ablative case of the Latin adjective sacer (holy). The Heilandskirche was conceived by the romantic king on the Prussian throne, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, built by court architect Ludwig Persius in the Italian style with a separated campanile (clock tower), and terminated in 1844.

When the GDR closed its borders to the West on August 13, 1961 the barrier ran across the church property such that the campanile serving as observation tower for the East German border guards eventually became part of the concrete wall. The church nave stood inside the Todesstreifen (death strip) between wall and border. Later the East German authorities sealed off the building completely to prevent any escape of people from East to West.

Looking from the campanile down to the death strip.
The concrete wall is to the left (©Pfingstkirchengemeinde)
Just before Christmas I found the following heartwarming German-German story in Der Spiegel on-line:

When the wall eventually fell on November 9, 1989, the Heilandskirche nearly in ruins became accessible again.

The interior of the Heilandskirche in November 1989 (©Pfingstkirchengemeinde)
On Christmas Eve 1989 Pastor Joachim Strauss, at the age of 77 and after more than twenty-eight years of absence from his church, held the midnight service.

The parish people were already seated when Pastor Strauss entered the dilapidated church
around midnight to celebrate Christmas Eve service on December 24, 1989
(©Birgit Regotzki/Der Spiegel)
Today the Heilandskirche has resuscitated in all its splendor, a symbol of freedom and peace, Amen.

Auferstanden aus Ruinen (Risen from ruins)
is the first line of the national anthem of the former GDR (©dpda)

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful transition! Thanks for the before and after photos.I have had the oppertunity to have visit the Frauenkirche in Dresden, incredible renovation! Thanks again!

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