St. Mary’s Church/ Marienkirche

"My   dear   Christian   friends   in   East   Berlin",   with   these   words   Dr.   Martin   Luther   King,   Jr. begins   his   sermon   on   September   13,   1964   in   the   Marienkirche.   Only   a   few   days   before   no one   had   guessed   that   the   American   Baptist   Pastor   and   civil   rights   activist   would   actually visit   the   eastern   part   of   the   city.   Heinrich   Grüber,   Probst   of   the   Marienkirche,   invites Martin   Luther   King   jr   in   1963   to   East   Berlin.   Since   the   construction   of   the   Wall   in   1961, Grübers   entry   into   the   GDR   is   denied,   the   Probst   can   only   mediate   the   visit   -   he   can   not participate.   In   1963   the   Marienkirche   came   into   trouble   because   one   of   their   pastors   fled from   the   GDR   and   the   second   priest   got   arrested   from   the   STASI.   Since   the   Marienkirche suddenly    becomes    spiritual    leadership,    Gerhard    Schmitt    becomes    superintendent general   for   East   Berlin   by   Bishop   Otto   Dibelius.   Shortly   before   King's   visit   the   church leadership   got   in   a   fight   and   a   cancellation   of   Martin   Luther   King's   visit   in   East   Berlin stood   in   the   room.   As   Schmitt   reports,   the   chairman   of   the   Church   leadership   in   East Berlin - probably from fear - didn't want to take responsibility for King. Despite   all   warnings,   the   new   General   Superintendent   Gerhard   Schmitt   decides   -   on   his responsibility   -   to   held   the   event   in   the   Marienkirche.   Within   just   two   days   invitations   are submitted    just    through    word-of-mouth    propaganda.    Invited    At    the    entrance    of    the Marienkirche   is   only   a   table   with   plug   letters   that   announce   the   guest   preacher.   Already hours   before   the   start,   people   are   pushing   into   the   completely   overcrowded   church. Martin   Luther   King   jr   reaches   the   Marienkirche   around   8   pm.   Manfred   Krause   (student   at the   time):   "We   waited   almost   two   hours   in   front   of   the   Marienkirche.   And   then   I   was   lucky and   came   in.   We   came   across   the   side   entrance   and   I   stood   all   the   time,   but   I   could   see King   very   well   on   the   pulpit.   [...]   When   King   entered   the   church,   everybody   stood   up   and clapped   applause.   It   was   a   overwhelming   atmosphere.   "Schmitt   first   announces   another spontaneous worship in the Sophienkirche and begins the church service with the words: "In   front   of   God,   there   is   no   difference   between   blacks   and   whites.   [...]   We   know   of   our guilt   as   a   German   people.   But   we   also   have   a   special   nerve   for   it   to   pay   attention   in   our community,   if   anywhere   in   the   world   people   need   to   fight   for   their   rights   oder   their human dignity because of their skin color or even their faith." Then   Dr.   King   enters   the   pulpit   and   says,   "My   dear   Christian   friends   of   East   Berlin,   I   want to   say   what   a   great   privilege   and   a   great   pleasure   it   is   for   me   to   come   and   share   this period   of   worship   and   fellowship   with   you   this   evening.   [...]   I   I   am   happy   to   bring   you greetings   from   your   Christian   brothers   and   sisters   of   West   Berlin,   where   I   have   just   spent a day in that community and certainly one of the most rewarding days of my life. Certainly,   I   bring   you   greetings   from   your   Christian   brothers   and   sisters   of   the   United States.   In   a   real   sense   we   are   all   one   in   Christ   Jesus,   for   in   Christ   there   is   no   East,   no   West, no   North,   no   South,   but   one   great   fellowship   of   love   throughout   the   whole,   wide   world. [...] May   I   say   that   it   is   indeed   an   honor   to   be   in   this   city,   which   stands   as   a   symbol   of   the divisions   of   men   on   the   face   of   the   earth.   For   here   on   either   side   of   the   wall   are   God’s children,   and   no   man-made   barrier   can   obliterate   that   fact.   Whether   it   be   East   or   West, men   and   women   search   for   meaning,   hope   for   fulfillment,   yearn   for   faith   in   something beyond   themselves,   and   cry   desperately   for   love   and   community   to   support   them   in   this pilgrim journey. [...] This   is   the   faith   I   commend   to   you   Christians   here   in   Berlin.   A   living,   active,   massive   faith that   affirms   the   victory   of   Jesus   Christ   over   the   world,   whether   it   be   an   Eastern   world   or   a Western world. With   this   faith,   we   will   be   able   to   hew   out   of   the   mountain   of   despair   a   stone   of   hope. With   this   faith,   we   will   be   able   to   transform   the   jangling   discords   of   the   nations   into   a beautiful   symphony   of   brotherhood.   With   this   faith,   we   will   be   able   to   work   together,   to pray   together,   to   struggle   together,   to   suffer   together,   to   stand   up   for   freedom   together, knowing that we will be free one day.” Martin   Luther   King,   Jr.   speaks   to   the   people   in   the   shared   city   from   the   heart   and   gives them   a   perspective.   The   STASI   cuts   the   sermon   of   Kings   speech   on   a   tape.   2013   two boxes of the speech from September 13, 1964 were inaugurated in the Marienkirche. The   Marienkirche   was   built   in   the   course   of   the   expansion   of   the   town   from   1250   in   the form   of   a   Gothic   hall   church.   Their   first   mention   is   documented   in   1292.   The   church   was rebuilt   several   times   over   the   centuries   and   received   its   present   appearance   (exterior façade,   floor   ...)   in   the   years   1893/94   by   the   architects   Hermann   Blankenstein.   To   the peculiarities   of   the   Marienkirche   the   dead   dance   fresco   in   the   tower   hall   (founded   around 1480) and the baroque pulpit, more than 30 angels (created in 1703) by Andreas Schlüter.  


The   American   civil   rights   activist   and   Baptist   pastor   Martin   Luther   King,   Jr.    organized   a spontaneously   church   service   in   the   evening   of   13   September   1964   in   the   Sophienkirche. King   was   in   1964   for   two   days   in   West-Berlin   because   of   an   invitation   from   the   Governing Mayor   Willy   Brandt   and   visited   on   13   September   1964   also   the   eastern   part   of   the divided   city.   Since   the   Marienkirche   at   the   Alexanderplatz   was   already   crowded   two   hours before    the    ecumenical    service,    the    Generalsuperintendent    of    East    Berlin    Gerhard Schmitt,   organized   a   second   service   in   the   nearby   Sophienkirche   with   the   Nobel   Peace Prize   laureate.   Shortly   after   the   announcement,   the   Sophienkirche   was   also   filled   to   the last   place.   The   STASI   report   states   that   people   stood   in   the   side   and   middle   passages   as well as at the exits and probably also in the court. Firstly,   church   representatives   report   on   their   work   in   the   World   Church   Council   and study    trips    through    the    USA.    Many    songs    are    sung.    Martin    Luther    King    enters    the Sophienkirche   at   around   9:25   pm.   Film   recordings   prove   that   all   visitors   solemnly   stood up   as   King   and   Schmitt   enter   the   church.   The   present   hear   the   courageous   words   from Kings:   "It   is   truly   an   honor   to   be   in   this   city,   which   stands   as   a   symbol   of   divisions   by people   on   this   earth.   Because   here   live   Children   of   God   on   both   sides   of   the   wall   and   no man's   hand   can   erase   this   fact.   [...]   This   is   the   faith   I   have   given   you   Christians   here   in Berlin,    a    lively,    active    and    great    public    faith    ...    In    this    belief    we    can    get    out    of    the mountain   of   despair   a   stone   of   hope.   In   this   belief   we   will   work   together,   to   pray   with one   another,   to   struggle   with   each   other,   to   be   together   for   freedom   and   get   up   in   the certainty   that   one   day   we   will   be   free   ...   ".   Among   the   listeners   are   numerous   students   of the   Humboldt   University   with   whom   King   speaks   after   the   worship.   The   STASI   informant transmitted   the   words   "Kings"   in   his   own   words   and   came   to   the   realization   that   there were   no   special   occurrences.   In   his   estimation   "these   services   did   not   have   the   proper character,   but   were   probably   due   to   the   curiosity   of   a   large   part   of   the   participants   to   the person of Dr. Martin Luther King. "The service ended at 9:50 p.m.

Hotel Albrechtshof/ Hospiz

After   the   church   service   in   the   Sophienkirche   has   ended   around   10   pm,   Martin   Luther King,   Jr.   and   the   Pastor   Ralph   Zorn   are   driving   tot   he   christian   hospice   (today   Hotel Albershof)   in   the   Albertsstraße,   near   trainstation   Friedrichstraße.   Since   the   construction of   the   berlin   wall   in   1961   the   hospice   is   a   popular   meeting   point   for   families   and   church dignitaries from East and West. The   building   is   in   the   possesion   oft   he   church   as   well,   and   thus   relatively   well   protected against   possible   espionage   operations   oft   he   Stasi.   Yet   the   GDR   secret   servie   is   trying   to ebserve   the   object,   as   proven   by   a   photo   report.   In   the   restaurant,   important   church representatives   oft   he   evangelical   church   are   meeting   up   with   King.   Eventhough   it   was   an exhausting   day,   especially   for   King,   which   was,   according   to   contemporary   witnesses, pretty    noticable,    the    conversation    takes    place    in    a    very    loosened    and    cheerful atmosphere. There are some snakcs and drinks. Gesine   Schuppen,   born   Schmitt:   „I   grabbed   a   card,   that,   according   to   my   memory,   was laying   on   the   counter,   went   inside   and   asked   my   dad:   „Can   I   have   an   autograph?“   And martin   Luther   King   said:   „Yes,   gladly.“   And   then   Martin   Luther   King   wrote   down:   Best wishes,   martin   Luther   King   […].   But   I   didn`t   stay   too   long   and   walked,   beaming   with   joy and happy, outside. During   the   conversation   all   those   present   make   an   entry   into   the   guestbook   oft   he house.   Among   the   guest   are,   inter   alia,   Gerhart   Schmitt   (General   Superintendent   East- Berlin),   Albrecht   Schönherr   (General   Superintendent   Eberswalde),   Gerhard   Brennecke (Management director) and Fritz Figur (president oft he synode of Berlin-Brandenburg). Just   before   midnight,   Martin   Luther   King   jr.,   Ralph   Zorn   and   the   community   helper   Dr. Scott    are    getting    back    in    the    american    limousine    and    leave    east-Berlin    through    the border   crossing   Checkpoint   Charlie   in   the   Friedrichstraße.   They   spend   the   night   at   the guest   house   oft   he   senate   in   Grunewald   and   fly   on   the   14th   of   september   1964   to Munich and to Rome, tot he Pope. In   memory   and   appreciation   of   Martin   Luther   King   jr.   the   Hotel   Albrechtshof   designed   a devotional    chapel    that    is    named    after    the    amercian    Baptist    minister    and    civil    rights activist.   The   chapel   is   located   in   the   basement   and   is   freely   available   for   guests   and tourists.
registration in the guestbook of the hotel in 1964/ Foto: archive of Siegfried Krüger
talk with contemporary withess in 2013 / king-code
service in Sophienkirche/ pic: archive of Siegfried Krüger
entry in Sophienkirche/ source: Bundesarchiv
St. Mary’s Church, sermon of M.L.King and R. Zorn (translator) pic: archive of Siegfried Krüger 
St. Mary’s Church / R.Dammann (l.), M.L.King, G.Schmitt (r.) / pic: archive of Siegfried Krüger
students talks with contemporary withness in St. Mary’s Church in 2013 / pic: king-code
copyright by GJW-BB/ King-Code Projekt 2015
copyright by GJW-BB/ King-Code Projekt 2015