Berlin Dom – Berlin Cathedral foto from Wikipedia by Holger Weinandt; Bearbeitung: unify (Perspektive entzerrt)
The Berliner Dom (and the unfortunate Kaiser who had it built)
The Berliner Dom is certainly one of the most conspicuous buildings in Berlin. It is perhaps the most striking example of the massive building projects that the Hohenzollern family undertook in their attempts to turn Berlin into a capital to rival any other in Europe. The results of their ambition still line Unter den Linden and fill the Museum Island today.
At first sight, one would suspect the Berliner Dom, with its opulent Renaissance style, to be one of the oldest of these landmark buildings. It is, however, the youngest: it was only completed in 1905. Its commissioner, Kaiser Wilhem II, would be the last ruling member of Hohenzollern family. He hoped to one day be buried in it. History, however, had something else in store for him.
The place where the cathedral now stands had been the site of the church of the resident ruling family since the late Middle Ages. The church that stood there when Wilhelm II came to power dated from the 1820s, had been out of style for quite a while and at any rate was deemed far too modest by the ever more powerful and ambitious Hohenzollerns. Wilhelm II finally decided to have it torn down and replaced with something more impressive. He envisioned a building which could rival the Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome – an interesting choice to find inspiration, as the Hohenzollerns adhered to the Prussian protestant church!
The design by Julius Carl Raschdorff which was finally approved by Wilhelm, looked (and still looks) exactly like a Roman Catholic basilica, but with a twist: where a Catholic church would have had statues, mosaics and tainted glass windows mostly depicting catholic saints, this design sported the apostles, several protestant German princes and the great church reformers, Luther and Calvin among them. (Somewhat awkward, as Calvin himself had banned any kind of images from the church.) Building started in 1893, and was paid for by the Prussian state.
Twelve years later, Wilhelm’s proud creation was finished, towering out over everything his predecessors had ever commissioned. The physical remains of many of these predecessors, by the way, had been carefully removed from the previous building and were now placed back in the new church. Wilhelm hoped to join them there one day.
Less than a decade later, however, the European great powers hurled themselves into the First World War. After four gruelling years, Germany found itself on the losing side. Wilhelm II, who refused to surrender and also refused to cooperate in any kind of political reform in Germany, saw no choice but to abdicate and go into exile. He made his way to the Netherlands, somewhat to the embarassment of the Dutch government and the royal family, as the Netherlands were supposed to be a neutral country. The victors of World War One subsequently demanded his extradition so that they could try him for war crimes.
Kaiser Wilhelm in 1933 in Doorn the Netherlands – foto Wikipedia -Oscar Tellgmann (1857–1936)
In the end, the Kaiser was not extradited and was granted the use of a large estate of the Dutch royal family, Huis Doorn. Here he would live out his days. The former autocratic ruler of Germany spent most of his time chopping wood – in the course of the more than two decades that he lived there, he deforestated large parts of the estate. He lived to see the rise of the Nazis and, declining to flee once more, was actually still in Huis Doorn when Germany invaded the Netherlands in May 1940. The leaders of the Third Reich, in their turn, found him to be somewhat of an embarassment – they didn’t feel quite at ease with having the last ruler of the Second Reich living within their borders. They decided to just isolate the estate from the rest of the world.
The last Kaiser died on the 4th of June 1941. He was eventually buried in another building he had commissioned – a rather modest mausoleum on the estate of Huis Doorn. In his last will, he recorded that he wanted his body moved to the Berliner Dom, but only once Germany had become a monarchy again. Needless to say, he is still in his small mausoleum, and will very probably stay there…
See further - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Cathedral
To read more about this opportunist last Kaiser …..who also led a not so closet homo-sexual private life -
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The Berliner Dom – and the unfortunate Kaiser who had it built! by Dutch contributor Tristan M. from OTA Berlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Germany License. If you use this article or parts of it, please refer to http://www.ota-berlin.de.