Garrison Church (Potsdam)
The Garrison Church was a Baroque church in Potsdam
Potsdam is the capital city of the German federal state of Brandenburg and part of the Berlin/Brandenburg Metropolitan Region. It is situated on the River Havel, southwest of Berlin city centre....

, eastern Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

. It was built under the second Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm I.
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

 between 1730 and 1735. During World War II, the church burned down on 14 April 1945. The ruin was demolished on 23 June 1968 by the SED leadership under Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...

. A reconstruction society aims to rebuild the Garrison Church by 2017, financed with donations.


From 1720 to 1722, the first Potsdam Garrison Church was built as a square half-timbered building on the plantation between the roads Dortustrasse and Yorckstrasse. After the completion the military community and the German Reformed Church moved in. Regular church services were hold.

The swampy land in Potsdam and the inadequate foundation of the building required demolition plans a few years later as the building began to sag. The king Friedrich Wilhelm I commissioned the architect Philipp Gerlach to build a new church. Fascinated by the high church towers he had seen on a visit to Holland, he decided, that the garrison church should also receive a high tower. Constructions began in 1731 and were completed in 1735. In 1740, Frederick Wilhelm I, who built the church, was interred there, as was his son Frederick the Great in 1786. Their coffins were removed prior to the church's destruction.

On September 27, 1817, King Frederick William III announced that on the 300th anniversary of the Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 Potsdam's Reformed court and garrison congregation, led by Court Preacher Rulemann Friedrich Eylert, and the Lutheran garrison congregation, then both using the Calvinist Garrison Church would unite into one Evangelical Christian congregation on Reformation Day
Reformation Day
Reformation Day is a religious holiday celebrated on October 31 in remembrance of the Reformation, particularly by Lutheran and some Reformed church communities...

, October 31. Frederick William expressed his desire to see the Protestant congregations around Prussia follow this example, and become Union congregations
Prussian Union (Evangelical Christian Church)
The Prussian Union was the merger of the Lutheran Church and the Reformed Church in Prussia, by a series of decrees – among them the Unionsurkunde – by King Frederick William III...


Both, Calvinist and Lutheran church, were then subject to state supervision, carried out by the newly created Prussian Ministry of Religious, Educational and Medical Affairs . Karl vom Stein zum Altenstein
Karl vom Stein zum Altenstein
Karl Sigmund Franz Freiherr vom Stein zum Altenstein was a Prussian politician....

 was appointed as minister. In the years that followed, many Lutheran and Reformed congregations did follow the example of Potsdam, and became single merged congregations, while others maintained their former Lutheran or Reformed denomination.

On 21 March 1933, which became known as the 'Day of Potsdam', after a sermon held by Otto Dibelius, the competent pastor, the new Chancellor Adolf Hitler was sworn in by Reich's President Paul von Hindenburg
Paul von Hindenburg
Paul Ludwig Hans Anton von Beneckendorff und von Hindenburg , known universally as Paul von Hindenburg was a Prussian-German field marshal, statesman, and politician, and served as the second President of Germany from 1925 to 1934....

 in the church because the Berlin Reichstag
Reichstag (building)
The Reichstag building is a historical edifice in Berlin, Germany, constructed to house the Reichstag, parliament of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Reichstag until 1933, when it was severely damaged in a fire. During the Nazi era, the few meetings of members of the...

 was damaged by fire previously. In a bomb attack on 14 April 1945 the Church seemed to remain intact. Then, however, the adjacent "Long Barn" began to burn and the fire reached the church.
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht
Walter Ulbricht was a German communist politician. As First Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party from 1950 to 1971 , he played a leading role in the creation of the Weimar-era Communist Party of Germany and later in the early development and...

, first secretary of the SED Central Committee, visited the city in 1967 and decided that the garrison church, as well as the other ruins of war, must be demolished.

Planned reconstruction

The tower and steeple are planned to be reconstructed as a first step, followed by the whole building. The groundbreaking ceremony, at which numerous celebrities such as Richard von Weizsäcker
Richard von Weizsäcker
Richard Karl Freiherr von Weizsäcker , known as Richard von Weizsäcker, is a German politician . He served as Governing Mayor of West Berlin from 1981 to 1984, and as President of the Federal Republic of Germany from 1984 to 1994...

 and Manfred Stolpe
Manfred Stolpe
Manfred Stolpe was Federal Minister of Transport, Building and Housing of the Federal Republic of Germany from 2002 until 2005. From 1990 until 2002 he was Premier of the State of Brandenburg.-Biography:...

 participated, was held on 14 April 2005.

There has been some opposition to the reconstruction of the Garrison Church, both from members of the Lutheran church and also from left wing political groups, due to fears of it being seen as a glorification of Prussian militarism and a rallying point for neo nazis. A citizen's group opposing the reconstruction was formally founded in May 2011.


The tower of the garrison church, with a total height of 88.43 metres, extended into the street and thus formed their appearance. The spire was an oak engineered floor on which a weather vane was installed. The side walls of the tower were broken on either side with narrow longitudinal windows with decorative figures at the corners. Above the main portal was an inscription in golden letters, which read: "Friedrich Wilhelm, King of Prussia built this tower along with the garrison church for the glory of God in 1735." Some of the letters still exist.


  • Reinhard Appel, Andreas Kitschke: Der Wiederaufbau der Potsdamer Garnisonkirche. Lingen Verlag, Köln 2006, ISBN 3-937490-70-1.
  • Ludwig Bamberg: Die Potsdamer Garnisonkirche. Baugeschichte - Ausstattung - Bedeutung. Lukas Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-936872-86-4.

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