Future of 'Nazi Church' Divides Berlin





Normally, there's very little desire to highlight Germany's Nazi history here.

And normally, when it comes time to decommission a Protestant church here, it's a straightforward affair.

But Berlin's Martin Luther Memorial Church seems bound to be an exception on both counts.

From the outside, it's an ordinary church with a bell tower in need of renovation. The inside seems standard at first, until one takes a closer look at the elevated lectern. Carved into the wood is a sermonizing Jesus Christ; in the crowd gathered around him are a Nazi soldier and one of Adolph Hitler's infamous brown-shirted storm troopers.

Planned in the 1920s but completed in 1935, the church is a bizarre blend of the Protestant faith and National Socialist dogma. A carved soldier decorates the baptismal font. Tiles on the wall include Nazi symbols. The spot now occupied by a bust of Martin Luther once was filled by a bust of Hitler. Even the Christ figure on the altar's cross is strong, athletic and defiant, embodying the Nazi concept of the Ubermensch more than the traditional Jesus surrendering himself.



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