'Hollow Tooth' peace symbol of Berlin faces deadly decay threat

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Its jagged, bomb-shattered belfry towers above the busy streets at the centre of west Berlin like an enormous broken tusk – a ruin that remains one of the most famous and potent symbols of the horrors of war in Europe.

But now Berlin's landmark Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church, nicknamed the "Hollow Tooth" by Berliners, is threatened with closure unless at least €4m (£3.2m) can be found to restore its rapidly disintegrating neo-gothic facades.

City officials admitted yesterday that the 113-year-old building, which is a top tourist attraction, was crumbling so badly as a result of traffic vibration that chunks of it threatened to drop off and hit pedestrians.

"The tower is very badly damaged," said Marko Rosteck, a spokesman for Berlin's urban development office. Church officials have admitted being "stunned" by the findings of a recent surveyor's report on the state of the building.

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