History Umweltforum | History | Prehistory
Black and white image of the Church of the Resurrection

From the Church of Resurrection to the Umweltforum

Fenced-off cemetery with several trenches in the ground

Prehistory: The largest cemetery for the poor in Berlin

In 1831, a graveyard for the poor was established in front of Landsberger Tor. Initially, victims of cholera were buried here in simple wooden coffins. From 1840 onwards, all people who are so poor that the Berlin administration pays their burial costs find their final resting place in the graveyard. In 1881, the graveyard for the poor is closed. An area of the approximately 32,000 square kilometers of land is reserved for a new church.

black and white picture of a church

Start of construction for the Church of the Resurrection

On May 7, 1892, the foundation stone for the new church was laid in the presence of Wilhelm II.

Its name is reminiscent of the old graveyard: this is where the dead await their resurrection. The church was to serve as a place of pastoral care for the working-class families in the rapidly growing eastern part of Berlin.

Black and white picture of a church hall

The Church of the Resurrection is built

The architect August Menken builds a church very typical for that time, according to the plans of city architect Hermann Blankenstein. It is sparsely built of brick, quite large with 1,350 seats and takes historical cues from the late Romanesque and Gothic styles. Its mighty tower is 77 meters high. On February 1, 1896, the Church of the Resurrection is consecrated.

Black and white image of a food counter

Help for the poor and for mothers

The crises of the period after World War I hit the people of Friedrichshain particularly hard: many lost their jobs and suffered hunger. The pastor of the Auferstehungsgemeinde establishes a coffee hall for jobless and homeless young men, and later a soup kitchen is added. The women of the parish organize support for mothers. Among other things, they set up a crèche, which still exists today.

Black and white image of the destroyed Church of the Resurrection

Destruction during the Second World War

During several air raids between 1943 and 1945, the Church of the Resurrection was hit by bombs. The tower loses its top, the nave and the chancel are completely destroyed.

Black and white image of the Church of the Resurrection

Reconstruction and inauguration

Pastor Werner Hannasky clears the rubble with volunteers and manages to restore the church to such an extent that it is spared from state demolition. In 1947, the congregation receives a license to rebuild. First, in 1951, a side aisle is consecrated as an emergency church, and a small remnant of the church is rebuilt in a simplified manner.  In May 1961, the Church of the Resurrection is consecrated by Bishop Otto Dibelius as the last East Berlin church before the construction of the Wall.

Plan for the reconstruction of the Church of the Resurrection with drawings and the building

Women for Peace and Blues Masses

In 1982, the Volkskammer passes a law providing for active military service for women. As a result, the group "Women for Peace" is founded in Berlin, whose community days, meetings and night prayers take place in the Church of the Resurrection. The church also provides space for youth services with blues music interludes, the so-called blues masses. Both movements play an important role in the resistance against the regime and are closely watched by state security.

View of the Environmental Forum from above.

Renovation and reconstruction of the Church of the Resurrection 

After the war, the church had been rebuilt with simple means. By the time of reunification, its condition had deteriorated further and further. After an initial renovation of the tower, the congregation, church district and district drew up a concept for the Church of the Resurrection of the future: the nave was extended back to its original size with glass and steel. Since 2003, it has been the Umweltforum, a modern event center with an ecological orientation. The Auferstehungsgemeinde continues to use the church and celebrates its services here.


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