Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church
During the Blitz, when Germany was trying to bomb Britain into surrender, the survival of St Paul’s Cathedral became a symbol of British resistance.
Talk has already turned reflexively to rebuilding the cathedral as it was before, as a symbol of Christchurch’s own hoped for regeneration after the disaster.
But building as before would not acknowledge one of the most painful periods in the city’s life. It would efface the memory of the tragedy.
Berlin, too had the its landmark Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gedächtniskirche damaged during the war, yet instead of rebuilding as before the otherwise uninspiring church was left damaged as a memorial, and a new contemporary tower constructed alongside. The damaged tower that remained was itself “a symbol of Berlin's resolve to rebuild the city after the war and a constant reminder of the destruction of war.”
Assuming it is to be rebuilt using donations and insurance, and not by the government sticking its hand in everyone’s pocket for them, something similar in Christchurch must surely be contemplated. It would be a much more meaningful restoration than simple emulation of what was there before?