Tag Archives: church

Düsseldorf’s fortified church

This evening we went to a concert in the world’s most heavily fortified church.

The Bunkerkirche in Düsseldorf has to be one of the most unique churches in the world. The land was acquired in 1928 with the intention of building a church on the site. Lack of funds during the 1930s depression meant that although plans were drawn up, construction was delayed for over a decade and then in 1940 the land was confiscated by the Nazis.

In 1941 the site which had been intended for the church was used to build an overground air-raid bunker. The building was deliberately constructed to look like a church from the air, in the hope of deterring allied bombers from targeting it.

After the war, the land (complete with fortified bunker) was returned to the Church and the bunker was converted and consecrated in 1949, in a lovely symbol of turning swords into ploughshares.

Interestingly, for a building which was constructed for entirely different purpose, it actually has rather impressive acoustics.

The concert (works by Schütz, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy and Bach, sung by the excellent choir and the fabulous Stringendo orchestra from Meerbusch) was a real treat… and the experience of being in such a historically unique setting added to the experience.

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Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany, World War 2

Beware: Christian drivers on the German Autobahn…

One of the strangest things about travelling on the German motorways is that every now and then you will pass a sign which looks like this.

Germany, it seems, has an entire network of specialised churches for the use of drivers on the Autobahn.

Now, given the way that some Germans drive, there is an obvious logic here. Before setting off into the maelstrom of grannies and boy racers, Dutch caravans and Polish trucks… including substantial stretches where no speed limits apply, it might be prudent to have a quick word with the Almighty regarding the afterlife.

I do worry though,  that German road users on the vast high-speed Autobahn network might be putting a little too much faith in divine intervention.

Many years ago, I once accepted a lift from a German nun, who was a case in point. Her vehicle was a tiny light blue VW beetle with a rosary dangling from the rear view mirror and a small statue of the Holy Virgin on her dashboard. Before setting off, the good Sister uttered a cursory prayer to the Virgin to keep us safe on our journey. Having ensured our safety in this manner, she clearly saw no further purpose in using secular means to get us to our destination in one piece…. things like mirrors, brakes or indicators. No, at a speed which was clearly inspired by the angels rather than VW’s engineers, we hurtled along the Autobahn, swerving from one lane to the next with only an occasional Hail Mary to see us safely around the next forty tonner. Only the sheer strength of her faith got us to our destination in one piece… it was certainly nothing to do with any driving skills. My nerves have never recovered.

Recently I have noticed that many Germans put a discrete fish-shaped sticker on the back of their vehicle, which shows that they are practising Christians.  Clearly, this is intended as a warning to other drivers. A car with a fish-sticker will pull out without indicating because a higher power is protecting it. A fish-sticker car can travel at whatever speed it likes, because speed cameras will miraculously not blitz them. I have become very wary of fish-sticker cars.

So I am planning to develop a range of bumper stickers which say atheist. These will be used to denote that the car relies on the driver looking in the mirror, indicating, travelling at an appropriate speed for the traffic conditions and generally obeying the rules of the road.

Anyone want one?

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Filed under About Germany, Life in Germany