The Church of Reconciliation’s steeple is blown up on January 28, 1985.

First, the East Germans tried to kill the Church of Reconciliation by surrounding it with walls, barbed wire, and booby traps. Then they blew it up. But the church lives on today with the newly constructed Chapel of Reconciliation.

When the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, the ironically named Church of Reconciliation found itself on the very border between East Berlin and free West Berlin. The Wall went up right in front of the church’s door, cutting it off from many parishioners in the West. Next, the church became imprisoned by the death strip–a deadly patch of land between the Berlin Wall and an inner wall. Inside this death strip were booby-traps, watchtowers, guard dogs…and the Church of Reconciliation.

The church became a symbol of oppression in East Berlin, trapped in the death strip, so the East Germans did away with the church. They blew it up in January of 1985, and the church’s destruction occurs in a pivotal scene from my Berlin mystery, The Puzzle People. But no amount of explosives could destroy the spirit of the church. Today it lives on with the new Chapel of Reconciliation, built on the exact same site. The interior of the chapel is made of compressed earth; and mixed in with the earth are bits and pieces of the old destroyed church. Check out the photo above from 1985 and the two photos below, taken on our trip to Berlin in 2011.

So the Chapel of Reconstruction died and lived again. Sound familiar?

By Doug Peterson

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The chapel’s curved walls are made of compressed earth that contain bits of the original church.


History by the Slice