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Church of Atonement with tower
Church of Atonement with tower © Michael Maillard

Evangelische Sühne-Christi-Kirche

An impactful symbol and a reminder to be mindful, even today

The Evangelische Sühne-Christi-Kirche, inaugurated in 1964, near the Plötzensee Memorial is a place of remembrance for the victims of National Socialism.

During the Nazi era, there existed a notorious execution site to the north of Charlottenburg - the former Plötzensee prison. A lot of political prisoners of the Nazi regime were executed there. It is this former prison site that now houses a memorial of the Nazi crimes. About 3 kilometres to the west of it are three churches that are dedicated to remembering this dark time in German history. One of these is the Evangelische Sühne-Christi-Kirche on Toeplerstrasse.

Church of Atonement in Berlin
Church of Atonement in Berlin © Michael Maillard

This modern church building, which was inaugurated in 1964, is impressive even from afar thanks to its striking hexagonal shape. A free-standing, white and simply designed bell tower with four bronze bells on a triangular floor plan rises high into the sky right next to it. Bright daylight streams inside the building through the high windows located directly under the tent roof of the church.

A reminder to future generations

Church of Atonement, Memorial Wall
Church of Atonement, Memorial Wall © Michael Maillard

A white memorial wall stretches from the forecourt of the church right into the anteroom. With the inscriptions “Auschwitz”, “Plötzensee”, “Hiroshima” and “Walls” on the outside, it is a severe reminder of serious crimes committed by people against people. The part of the wall in the anteroom of the church bears the inscription “Golgotha”, after the place of crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In this manner, this wall designed by Florian Breuer, an artist from Berlin, serves as a reminder for mindfulness and points out the victims of the lack of it right from the word go. Directly in front of the memorial wall is a concrete slab that quotes God's words of warning from the Bible which he addressed to Cain: “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.”

Memorial and prayer room: the interior of the church

The main church in the building, designed by Hansrudolf Plarre from Berlin, is spacious and bright inside. The large windows under the roof offer an unrestricted and liberating view of the sky. The design of the simple red brick walls symbolizes openness and fragility. A gallery floats sublimely on one side of the hexagonal room: this large, modernly constructed organ with 38 registers is located here. The altar is entirely in plain white and is impressive due to its plain white stone cross with a crown of thorns.

Read more about the Path of Remembrance, on which the Evangelische Sühne-Christi-Kirche is located.