It's hard to imagine that German cities in 1945 looked like some cities in Iraq or Syria now, full of holes and ruins. In some large cities, certain ruins were preserved as witnesses of the brutal war, such as the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.
The Romantic-style William Emperor Church was completed in 1895. On November 23, 1945, it caught fire and was burned in an air raid by the Allied forces. After the war, the 71-meter high damaged main tower was preserved as a symbol to remind people. In 1961, four new towers were completed around the main tower, and both the old and new buildings are now listed as protected heritage.
The Franciscan Monastery Church in the center of Berlin was built in 1250 and was dissolved during the Reformation in 1539. In 1945, the church was heavily damaged in an air raid, with only a few exterior walls preserved. Since 2004, the restored ruins have been used for exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical performances.
St. Kolumba Church, Cologne's oldest Catholic church, is not far from St. Albinus. It was built in 980 AD and was almost completely destroyed in 1943, leaving only a few medieval exterior walls and a statue of the Virgin Mary.
In 1947 to 1950, a small octagonal church was built on the original site for this statue of the Virgin Mary. However, people in Cologne still call it "The Madonna in the Ruins". In 1956/57, a rectangular church was expanded based on the small church. Interestingly, in 2007, the St. Kolumba Church became a part of the Diocesan Museum of Archbishop's Church Art.
The Zerbst Palace in Saxony-Anhalt is the Duke's residence of Anhalt-Zerbst, built in the 17th century with three wings. The Zerbst Palace is one of the most important Baroque buildings in central Germany.
Hamburg St. Nicholas' Church was built in 1195. After a major fire in 1842, a magnificent new Gothic church was built on the site, which was completed in 1874. Its 147-meter tower was once the tallest building in the world. On July 28, 1943, the church was bombed and burned down. Only the tower and the basement dome of St. Nicholas' Church survived, remaining as an unhealed wound to this day. After World War II, the Hamburg Parliament decided not to rebuild the church, but to preserve the ruins as a memorial to the victims of the war and dictatorship from 1933 to 1945. A documentation center was established in the basement, hosting the long-term exhibition "Operation Gomorrah - the Hamburg Firestorm."
In 1945, the Frauenkirche in Dresden, a Baroque jewel, became a ruin and rubble. Although it survived the major air raid in February 1945, it collapsed the next day. For a long time, this ruin served as a memorial against war and destruction. Former East Germany did not have the financial resources to repair the church. After the reunification of Germany, the Frauenkirche started its 9-year reconstruction in 1996. The stones from the ruins were used in the new construction. The project cost a total of 180 million euros, with contributions from 16 domestic and international funding organizations. It is a symbol of hope and national unity.
The Christ Resurrection Church in Pforzheim, built in 1947, was the first church constructed in Germany after World War II. It used 30,000 bricks excavated from the ruins of surrounding houses. It not only symbolized a new beginning, but also served as a model for the construction of 46 subsequent temporary churches in war-torn Germany.