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Baustelle der Garnisonkirche in Potsdam
Baustelle Garnisonkirche Potsdam © SGP, Foto: Peter Michael Bauers

Garrison Church in Potsdam

The reconstruction of the Garrison Church tower

"Living History" inspires a current debate in this fateful place: history as a challenge to reflect on the present and to discuss the socio-political challenges of the future.

The Court and Garrison Church, built in 1735 by the North German baroque master builder Philipp Gerlach, burnt down in 1945, shortly before the end of the Second World War, after a bomb attack. In 1968, at the time of the division of Germany, the GDR leadership had the church blown up for ideological reasons. This makes the former Garrison Church one of the 60 or so church buildings destroyed under the GDR regime.

View of the Garrison Church Potsdam in the 1930s
View of the Garrison Church Potsdam in the 1930s © © Anke Silomon, Foto: Christine Gottwald

The Garrison Church - a monument to German history   

In the heart of Potsdam, not far from the Barberini Museum, a new tower is being built.

In 2018, visitors marvel at the spectacular foundation work: 38 bored piles are turned at a depth of 38 metres to lay the foundations for the new 90-metre-high building with four full storeys and a tower hood.

The tower base with the two side wings and the mezzanine floor will be completed in spring 2021. The height of the tower construction site is currently just under 30 meters.

The decision to rebuild the tower is based on the turbulent history of the Garrison Church, in which both the Prussian Monarchy and the Nazi dictatorship left their mark. First built by Friedrich Wilhelm I for the members of the court and the garrison, the first freely elected town councillors met in the Garrison Church from 1809. Calvinists and Lutherans formed the first union here in 1817. The tomb of the Garrison Church served the Prussian rulers Frederick William I and Frederick II as a burial ground. In 1933, the Garrison Church became sadly famous when Adolf Hitler was confirmed by Reich President Paul von Hindenburg as Reich Chancellor by handshake on the "Day of Potsdam".  

As a place of remembrance of German history and as a forum for peace and reconciliation, a space of encounter is created here, where the debate about arrogance and fall, about resistance and adaptation, and about freedom and oppression is to be brought to life.
The idea of reconciliation accompanies the reconstruction project from the very beginning: The temporary Nail Cross Chapel on the edge of the construction site unites historical traces with the church and socio-political discourses.

Baroque style meets modern functionality

The new tower design of the architects Hilmer, Sattler & Albrecht shows an exciting symbiosis of reconstruction and modern functionality. Exhibition and seminar areas as well as the central chapel as the heart of the tower will be built on an area of about 1200 sqm. A highlight will be the 57-metre-high viewing platform with a wide view over Potsdam. The historic carillon under the almost 90-metre-high tower dome will also sound again.

The nearly 90 meter high building will have four full storeys, 365 steps and an elevator. Accessible construction is the order of the day.

Longitudinal section of the new tower of the Garrison Church Potsdam
Garrison church in Potsdam Longitudinal section of the tower © Arbeitsgemeinschaft Wiederaufbau Garnisonkirche Potsdam – 1.BA Turm

The Nail Cross Chapel

At the edge of the construction site, the temporarily erected Nail Cross Chapel invites you to church services, exhibitions and lots of historical information. As a member of the Coventry Nail Cross Community, three steps form the basis of church life: remembering history, learning responsibility and living reconciliation.

Chapel of the Nail Cross at the construction site of the Garrison Church Potsdam
Chapel of the Nail Cross Garrison Church Potsdam © SGP, Foto: Heike Schulz