Sankt-Annen-Kirche, Dahlem-Dorf, Berlin

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St. Ann’s Church is the Lutheran Church in Dahlem. This old church dates from the Middle Ages. In fact, a crusader stopped here and was a significant benefactor of the church. On the walls of the nave there is a mural portraying the legend of Saint Ann, and though quite faint now, it remains intact.

This church had Martin Niemöller as its pastor in the 1930s, and though he initially supported Hitler in the struggle against communism, in an audience with Hitler he demanded that Hitler not oppress the church, an agreement Hitler renegged on! During the Nazi era, Martin Niemöller preached against the national socialists’ racial policies and was arrested and held for 8 years in concentration camps, expecting to be executed. On every day of those 8 years the congregation at Dahlem, convened for prayer twice per day.

Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-- and there was no one left to speak for me.

A Jewish woman who sheltered in the church through the Nazi era of genocide, also survived the war and in gratefulness she made a gift for the church which contextualises the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In her 3-dimensional work, the crucified Christ wears a Star of David and the clothes of a Jew destined for the crematoria. The thieves on either side of the Jesus are to be cremated.

Rudi Dutschke, a well-known ringleader of the German student movements during 1968 is buried in this graveyard. Dutschke escaped from East Berlin to the West, the day before the Berlin Wall was closed in August 1961. He opposed the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, contributed to the beginning of the Green Movement, and opposed the Vietnam War. Dutschke also advocated that the transformation of Western societies should go hand in hand with Third World liberation movements and with democratisation in communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. His socialism had strongly Christian roots. He called Jesus Christ the "greatest revolutionary", and in Easter 1963, he wrote that "Jesus is risen. The decisive revolution in world history has happened — a revolution of all-conquering love. If people would fully receive this revealed love into their own existence, into the reality of the 'now', then the logic of insanity could no longer continue."

His opposition to the the parliamentary and judicial systems at the time, which he saw were populated by former Nazis and political conservatives, cost him martyrdom. Rudi advocated a 'long march through the institutions' of power to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery. He survived an assassination attempt in 1968 for 11 years, dying from the effects of the gunshots to his head while bathing on Christmas Eve 1979.

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Comments (8)

Ian Stehbens on June 23, 2013

St. Ann’s Church is the Lutheran Church in Dahlem. This old church dates from the Middle Ages. In fact, a crusader stopped here and was a significant benefactor of the church. On the walls of the nave there is a mural portraying the legend of Saint Ann, and though quite faint now, it remains intact.

This church had Martin Niemöller as its pastor in the 1930s, and though he initially supported Hitler in the struggle against communism, in an audience with Hitler he demanded that Hitler not oppress the church, an agreement Hitler renegged on! During the Nazi era, Martin Niemöller preached against the national socialists’ racial policies and was arrested and held for 8 years in concentration camps, expecting to be executed. On every day of those 8 years the congregation at Dahlem, convened for prayer twice per day.

Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-- and there was no one left to speak for me.

A Jewish woman who sheltered in the church through the Nazi era of genocide, also survived the war and in gratefulness she made a gift for the church which contextualises the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In her 3-dimensional work, the crucified Christ wears a Star of David and the clothes of a Jew destined for the crematoria. The thieves on either side of the Jesus are to be cremated.

Rudi Dutschke, a well-known ringleader of the German student movements during 1968 is buried in this graveyard. Dutschke escaped from East Berlin to the West, the day before the Berlin Wall was closed in August 1961. He opposed the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, contributed to the beginning of the Green Movement, and opposed the Vietnam War. Dutschke also advocated that the transformation of Western societies should go hand in hand with Third World liberation movements and with democratisation in communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. His socialism had strongly Christian roots. He called Jesus Christ the "greatest revolutionary", and in Easter 1963, he wrote that "Jesus is risen. The decisive revolution in world history has happened — a revolution of all-conquering love. If people would fully receive this revealed love into their own existence, into the reality of the 'now', then the logic of insanity could no longer continue."

His opposition to the the parliamentary and judicial systems at the time, which he saw were populated by former Nazis and political conservatives, cost him martyrdom. Rudi advocated a 'long march through the institutions' of power to create radical change from within government and society by becoming an integral part of the machinery. He survived an assassination attempt in 1968 for 11 years, dying from the effects of the gunshots to his head while bathing on Christmas Eve 1979.

bdeh on June 23, 2013

Interesting story Ian. Greetings Berend

Ian Stehbens on June 23, 2013

Thanks for your interest, Berend. We actually found it was a great privilege to have had the opportunity to worship in this church with our hosts Maja and Alexander, especially because it had these associations with Niemöller, the Jewish woman and Dutschke. An absolute privilege really!! It wasn't till after the service that I began to discover all this and realize its significance for me.

Warm regards,

Ian

Syborgh on July 13, 2013

I like it very much when people show a bit more of themselves, in opinion or information. That is why I always liked your Panoramio accounts, Ian.

I know about St. Anne (Maria's mother and! teacher!), I know about Martin Niemöller , I did not know about the Jewish woman, and of course my left-wing generation knows all about 'roter Rudi'. He was not the first, nor the only one, to call Jesus a revolutionary. The whole Liberation theology of Latin-America is based upon that thought.

I was brought up and formed by anti-militarist, (Christian-)anarchist & humanist-socialist parents. Both were admirers of (the body of thought of) Domela Nieuwenhuis the Red Preacher.

Born at the end of May 1945 I was considered a Peace Child and named accordingly Friederike (Germanian name for She-who-is-rich-in-peace). My mother was pregnant during the infamous Hongerwinter and my youth was under the pressure of grieve and loss and anger and, at the same time, in the sign of the (international) peace movement. If you like you can visit my picture blog with my mother's heroines and my father's heros.

I guess, Ian, you are a follower of the Liberation theology. You can find all about my sympathies and identifications at my MyOpera weblog.

Cordial regards, - Fried

Syborgh on July 14, 2013

Since you are visiting Europe, maybe you are interested in the Titus Brandsma Memorial Church at Nijmegen, the Netherlands. It is close to Kleve and the German border.

Brandsma was a Carmelite mystic and resistance fighter who was arrested by the Nazis and murdered in Dachau. He is called the Apostle of Peace.

I made a photo series of the interior when I visited the church some time ago. During that visit I couldn't help walking in tears all the time. Happily there was no one other than the pastor who was quietly reading and writing in a corner.

Wish you a very good trip in Europe!

  • Friederike
Ian Stehbens on July 15, 2013

Dear Friederike,

This introduction to Titus Brandsma Memorial Church at Nijmegen is a real education for me. It is all new to me. I am enjoying your images of the church at the moment. I found the Wikipedia article on Brandsma a helpful start. Thank you for sharing from the depths of your emotions and commitment.

Grace,

Ian

thor@odin™ on August 17, 2013

Wonderful peaceful place. I 'm delighted just to watch, like warm regards Peter

Ian Stehbens on August 17, 2013

Thank you, Peter, it is is a very pleasant part of Berlin, and to be in such a significnat place was also very special. And to add to all that, I was there with a Panoramio friend!! Maja Weidemuller!!

Kind regards,

Ian

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