Deutscher Dom

Deutscher Dom (English: German Cathedral) is the colloquial naming for the New Church (German: Neue Kirche) located in Berlin on the Gendarmenmarkt across from Französischer Dom (French Cathedral). Its parish comprised the northern part of the then new quarter of Friedrichstadt, which until then belonged to the parish of the congregations of Jerusalem's Church. The Lutheran and Calvinist (in German Reformed Church) congregants used German as their native language, as opposed to the French-speaking Calvinist congregation owning the French Church of Friedrichstadt on the opposite side of Gendarmenmarkt. The congregants' native language combined with the domed tower earned the church its colloquial naming. The church is not a cathedral in the actual sense of the word.


Church and Congregations

In 1701-1708 Giovanni Simonetti built the first church after a design of Martin Grünberg. It was the third church in Friedrichstadt, established in 1688, which was a town of princely domination, while the neighbouring old Berlin and Cölln were cities of town privileges. The Prince-Elector originally only provided for a Calvinist congregation, since they - the Hohenzollern - themselves were Calvinists. But also more and more Lutherans moved in. Therefore in 1708 the New Church became a Calvinist and Lutheran Simultaneum.


The site for the church was disentangled from the so-called Swiss Cemetery, which had been provided for Huguenots, who had come to Berlin between 1698 and 1699 from their intermittent refuge in Switzerland. The original building had a pentagonal groundplan with semicircular apses. The interior was characterised by a typical Protestant combined altar and pulpit leaning against the eastern central pillar opposite to the entrance.


In 1780-1785 Georg Christian Unger modified the church and added the eastern domed tower after a design by Carl von Gontard. His design of the domed towers followed the Palladian tradition and received the shape of the Parisian Church of Sainte-Geneviève (now the Panthéon), then still under construction by Jacques-Germain Soufflot. Together with the domed tower next to the French Church Gendarmenmarkt was meant to resemble the Piazza del Popolo in Rome.


Christian Bernhard Rode created the statues, representing characters from the Old and New Covenant, which are added to the tower. The dome was topped by a statue symbolising the victorious virtue (now a post-war replica). The gable relief depicts the Conversion of Sha'ul Paul of Tarsus. In 1817 the two congregations of the New Church, like most Prussian Reformed and Lutheran congregations joined the common umbrella organisation named Evangelical Church in Prussia (under this name since 1821), with each congregation maintaining its former denomination or adopting the new united denomination.


The New Church became famous as a place of Prussian history. On 22 March 1848 the coffins of 183 Berliners, who had been killed during the March Revolution, were shown on the northern side of the church. After an Evangelical service within the prayer hall outside an Evangelical pastor, a Catholic priest and a rabbi, one after the other, shortly addressed the audience, before the throng accompanied the coffins to the graves.


In 1881 the dilapidated prayer hall was torn down and Hermann von der Hude and Julius Hennicke replaced it with a new one on a pentagonal groundplan, according to the neobaroque design of Johann Wilhelm Schwedler. Otto Lessing designed the six statues on the attic of the new prayer hall. On 17 December 1882 the new prayer hall was inaugurated.


In 1934 the congregations of the New Church had united with that of Jerusalem's Church and have become - after further mergers - today's Evangelical Congregation in the Friedrichstadt (as of 2001). For services it uses the French Church on the opposite side of Gendarmenmarkt and Luke's Church in Berlin-Kreuzberg.


In 1943 the New Church was almost completely destroyed in the bombing of Berlin in World War II and was subsequently rebuilt from 1977 to 1988. Meanwhile the German government acquired the building and the site. The church building was updated, profaned and reopened in 1996 as the Bundestag's museum on German parliamentary history (Milestones - Setbacks - Sidetracks, The Path to Parliamentary Democracy in Germany).


The two congregations of the New Church maintained cemeteries with the two congregations of the neighbouring Jerusalem's Church (another simultaneum), three of which are comprised - with cemeteries of other congregations - in a compound of six cemeteries altogether, which are among the most important historical cemeteries of Berlin. They are located in Berlin-Kreuzberg south of Hallesches Tor (Berlin U-Bahn) (Friedhöfe vor dem Halleschen Tor).


Noteworthy Parishioners

  • E. T. A. Hoffmann
  • Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, originally also buried in the Church, later translated to the cemetery south of Hallesches Tor.
  • Antoine Pesne, originally buried within the Church, later translated to the cemetery south of Hallesches Tor.

Building Activity

  • Georgi Sokolov
    Georgi Sokolov activity.buildings_person.create_many
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com