Paulskirche in Frankfurt

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Paulskirche as seen from the Main Tower (2018)

The Paulskirche in Frankfurt am Main is a former church building used as an exhibition, memorial and meeting place. It was built from 1789 to 1833 in place of the medieval Barefoot Church , which was demolished in 1786 , and served as the main Protestant church in Frankfurt until 1944, which is now the Katharinenkirche . The delegates of the Frankfurt National Assembly , the first popular assembly for the whole of Germany, met in the classical rotunda designed by the architect Johann Friedrich Christian Hess from 1848 to 1849 . The Paulskirche is a symbol of the democratic movement in Germany alongside the Hambacher Schloss . From this most important epoch for the Paulskirche and the German history of democracy, however, almost nothing can be seen of the interior furnishings.

On March 18, 1944, the Paulskirche burned down like many of the surrounding buildings in Frankfurt's old town after one of the air raids on the city . After the Second World War it was in 1947/48 as the first historic building in Frankfurt with the help of donations from all German states outside apart from the conical roof rebuilt . Inside, instead of the former church space with galleries, a low foyer was created with a meeting room above with plenary seating. The interior was designed very simply for lack of money and building materials. On May 18, 1948, on the hundredth anniversary of the National Assembly, it was reopened as the House of All Germans . In 1986 the building was renovated.

Paulskirche is a national monument and is used for exhibitions and public events. The best-known recurring event is the awarding of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade .


The barefoot monastery in the Middle Ages

The Barefoot Church on the Merian map from 1628

The Frankfurt Barfüßer or Franciscan monastery was first mentioned in a document in 1270 . However, it may have been a few decades older. The Frankfurt patrician Achilles Augustus von Lersner reported in his chronicle published in 1706 that the Barefoot Church must have existed as early as 1238, as a (not preserved) funerary inscription by the founder Henrich Knoblauch on the church revealed. The barefooters took on numerous pastoral tasks in Frankfurt, whose population grew rapidly in the 13th century. The parish rights for the entire city population remained exclusively with the imperial monastery of St. Bartholomew .

Architecturally, the church of the monastery, the Barfüßerkirche, corresponded to the type of an initially single-aisled, from 1350 two-aisled mendicant order church in Gothic style. In 1478 a cloister was built , from 1485 the church - especially the rood screen and the vault  - was expanded. The pulpit dates from 1489 . In 1491 the city council approved the construction of an underground drainage system in the moat. Between 1500 and 1510 the choir was rebuilt. Instead of a steeple , the church received a roof turret . Because of the construction there were conflicts and border disputes with the neighbors. Persecuted criminals repeatedly made use of the monastery’s right of asylum .

The Barfüßerkirche as the main Protestant church

The interior of the Barefoot Church, 1653
The barefoot monastery around 1830
Nave (1718)

In 1522, the Marburg Franciscan Hartmann Ibach gave the first Reformation sermon in Frankfurt in the Katharinenkirche . After the Frankfurt guild uprising in April 1525, the Reformation began to prevail among the Frankfurt citizens . In 1525, Dionysius Melander and Johann Bernhard were the first Reformation preachers to be commissioned by the city council. Since 1526 Protestant sermons have been held regularly in the Barfüßerkirche, on March 18, 1528, the Sunday Reminiscere , the Lord's Supper was served for the first time in both forms .

On June 9, 1529, six of the eight remaining brothers handed over their monastery to the council. The Barfüßerkirche became a Protestant church. In 1530 the general alms box and the caste office were housed in the monastery rooms. In 1542 the city's Latin school occupied former monastery buildings, where it remained until it was demolished in 1839. After the Schmalkaldic War , the council was forced to accept the Augsburg interim and on October 14, 1548 , to return six Catholic collegiate and religious churches, including the Imperial Cathedral of St. Bartholomew , to their orders or collegiate clergy. The Protestant Christians of the city, meanwhile around 98% of the citizenry, were left with the Barefoot, Katharinen, Weißfrauen, Peters-, Dreikönigskirche and the church of the Hospital of the Holy Spirit . With this compromise the council secured the political independence of the city and its most important privileges, especially the fairs and the imperial elections. This wise step paid off: since 1562, almost all emperors were not only elected in Frankfurt, but also crowned .

The Barfüßerkirche, the largest of the remaining Protestant churches, became the main church from 1548. From 1599 to 1604 a new organ was installed and a gallery for the men in the aisle. With the capacity increased in this way, the church has long met the demands of the citizens. The town's twelve evangelical clergy formed the evangelical ministry of preachers , the chairman of which, the senior , was also the first preacher of the Barfüßerkirche and lived in the former monastery. According to the Lersner Chronicle, in addition to the daily church services (once on weekdays, twice on Sundays and public holidays, including once with a communion celebration ), weddings as well as baptisms on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons took place in the Barfüßerkirche on Mondays and Tuesdays .

From 1666 to 1686, Philipp Jakob Spener Senior was in Frankfurt. He founded in 1670 together with Johann Jakob Schütz the first collegium pietatis ( home group ) and wrote in 1675 his most important work, a short manifesto called Pia Desideria or Warm desire for godly improvement of the true Evangelical Church (1675), whose appearance as a founding date of pietism viewed becomes.

In the second half of the 18th century the dilapidation of the old barefoot church gradually became noticeable. Above all, however, the cramped location of the church increasingly took offense. On February 21, 1782, the last service took place in the Barfüßerkirche. Because cracks appeared in the vault, the council ordered the church to be closed. Its demolition began in August 1786 and was completed in early 1787.

The new building of the Paulskirche

Design by Andreas Liebhardt for the new Paulskirche, 1786
Paulskirche (1848)

Very different proposals had been made for the design of the new building. The then Frankfurt city architect Johann Andreas Liebhardt proposed an oval hall construction with a domed roof and a tower in the west of the church. However, the council commissioned the architects Johann Georg Christian Hess and Nicolas de Pigage , who had also submitted proposals, to revise the plans. When Liebhardt died in January 1788, there was a further delay. Finally, Hess, who was also his successor as town builder, was commissioned to draw up new plans and incorporate certain specifications from the council.

Construction began in 1789. As with almost all important Frankfurt buildings - red Main sandstone was used as building material . In June 1792 the building was completed except for the roof, the stairwells and the tower. Due to the political and economic crisis during the coalition wars, the new building dragged on over a longer period of time. In 1796 the church was given a roof, and windows were not installed until 1802 to protect the building from the weather. However, the tower and staircases remained unfinished.

After that, it was not until 1810 that city funds could again be made available for further construction. The unfinished church was rented out to Frankfurt merchants as storage space and they wanted to include the rental income in the city's construction budget. They were, however, consumed again by the high contributions that the city had to make as a result of the French occupation.

In 1816 Johann Friedrich Christian Hess was appointed city architect as his father's successor. However, the further construction planned for 1821 was still delayed, especially since Hess was  busy with another large building - the city ​​library .

The delay in building the church was not only a result of the shortage of funds after the coalition wars. After the restoration of the Free City of Frankfurt , the Senate first had to ensure orderly political conditions. This also included the reform of the church order: the municipal constitution, the constitutional supplementary act , restored the Lutheran consistory in 1816 , which, like the Reformed and Catholic church councils, represented its congregation. In 1820, an evangelical parish council, independent of the clergy, was appointed and finally, after long negotiations, in early 1830 the financial endowment of the church was regulated in the so-called endowment document . The city undertook to provide housing and salaries for the twelve Lutheran clergymen and to leave three schools and six churches "for perpetual use" to the Lutheran congregation, including the Barefoot Church.

Immediately afterwards, in the spring of 1830, after an interruption of almost thirty years, construction work resumed. The components that had already been completed were meanwhile completely neglected, trees and bushes grew out of the shattered windows and the unglazed window shafts of the tower and the stairwells.

On May 23, 1833, the Lutheran consistory of the city decided to name the new church after Paul , the apostle of the sola fide , the name Paulskirche . The previous name was considered inappropriate, "because the barefoot monks themselves have disappeared from the Catholic Church, at least in Germany". On the same day, the city senate decided that the festive service for the inauguration should take place on June 9, 1833. In the celebrations, the civic need for representation of the political community became apparent, the church ceremony was rather simple. Pastor Anton Kirchner gave the inauguration sermon .

Paulskirche as the meeting place for the National Assembly

The Germania on the President's desk. The picture is traditionally attributed to Philipp Veit , but may have been made by other or several painters.
The move of the pre-parliament into the Paulskirche on March 21, 1848
Session of the National Assembly in June 1848

When a seat for the first all-German parliament was sought in the course of the German Revolution in 1848 , the Paulskirche was the largest and most modern hall in Frankfurt. On March 18, 1848, the Frankfurt lawyers Binding and Friedrich Siegmund Jucho presented the evangelical community board with a letter in which they asked for the St. Paul's Church to be made available. As early as March 21, the then Senior Dancker, on behalf of all board members, declared "with pleasure" and instructed the clerk Meyer to help the preparatory committee. Only later did the Frankfurt parish council argue about whether the church should be used for political purposes: The reason for this was the Frankfurt barricade fighting on September 18, 1848 and, even more so, the martial law-enforcement shooting of deputy Robert Blum by the Austrian military as a result of the suppression of the October uprising in Vienna .

At the end of March 1848, the necessary renovations were hastily carried out: the walls and windows of the church were decorated with flags in the new federal colors of black, red and gold , the pulpit was covered with a cloth, the organ was covered by a wide curtain, the Painting showed: Germania with flag and sword, right and left of it a laurel wreath with patriotic verses. The presidential table was set up in place of the altar. “How completely one disregarded the ecclesiastical character of the meeting place immediately after the opening of the negotiations, found its clearest expression in the sharp refusal of an opening prayer, whereby Raveaux said that prayer belongs in the church and reminded of the word: Help yourself, so will be help you God. "

From March 31 to April 3, 1848, the church was the meeting place for the pre-parliament , a meeting of liberals and democrats that prepared the election for the Frankfurt National Assembly. The National Assembly met here for the first time on May 18, 1848 and was therefore also called Paulskirche or Paulskirche Parliament . Other names were national parliament, imperial assembly or even the Reichstag.

On June 29, 1848, the National Assembly elected Archduke Johann of Austria as Reich Administrator and thus the first German head of state elected by a parliament. After the revolution was put down in the spring of 1849, Johann handed over his powers to a federal central commission in December .

Between November 6, 1848 and January 9, 1849, the National Assembly had to move to the German Reformed Church on Kornmarkt for a total of 40 meetings , as one of the first central heating systems in Germany was installed in the Paulskirche . Until then, the “unbearable cold” in the church had caused annoyance every winter; now two coal -fired boilers and hot water underfloor heating, which was very modern for the time, provided a pleasant 15  ° R (18  ° C ) with an outside temperature of −8 ° R (−10 ° C). At the same time, the church had received gas lighting from 37 chandeliers .

On March 28, 1849, the National Assembly passed a constitution for the German Empire, which is now known as the Frankfurt Reich Constitution or the Paulskirchenverfassung . However, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV rejected the German imperial crown. Prussia and Austria, as well as other states, illegally demanded the deputies from their countries to give up their mandate.

In May 1849 there were uprisings in various German states to implement the Frankfurt constitution ( Reichsverfassungskampagne ), which, with Prussian help, were put down by force of arms. On May 31, 1849, the majority of the MPs who remained in Frankfurt decided to move the National Assembly to Stuttgart in order to escape Prussian influence. Thus, after a little over a year, the role of the Paulskirche as the seat of parliament ended.

Paulskirche was not available to the parish for over four years, from March 1848 to June 1852. During this time, the old Nikolaikirche on the Römerberg , which had already served as an alternative accommodation during the long construction period, was used.

Paulskirche until 1918

Interior view after the renovation in 1892

After the Paulskirche had been returned to the parish in 1856, an enclosure around the altar that had been planned from the beginning was built. After the cathedral fire on August 14, 1867, a fire station was set up on the tower (until 1878).

The first major renovation of the interior took place in 1892/1893: the painter Karl Grätz decorated the ceiling with pictures of the four prophets Isaiah , Jeremiah , Ezekiel and Daniel and with 16 praying angels. On the parapet of the gallery, statues of the four evangelists Matthew , Mark , Luke and John were placed in front of the organ prospect .

Even after the loss of state independence and the annexation by Prussia in 1866, Frankfurt remained with the church constitution handed down from the Middle Ages until 1899. The urban area including Sachsenhausen formed its own regional church , the Evangelical Church in the consistorial district of Frankfurt am Main with a single parish. The twelve pastors (since 1830) - two of them at St. Paul's Church - were city officials and were sworn in to the King of Prussia as the holder of the church regiment.

It was not until September 27, 1899 that the parish and synodal order was issued, in which the unification of the Lutheran and Reformed consistory and the division of the urban area into six Lutheran parishes, including the Pauls parish, and two Reformed parishes were established. Up until now the Protestant families in Frankfurt had to choose for themselves which church or preacher they wanted to stick to; now parishes have also been introduced in Frankfurt . The Paulsgemeinde, which comprised the densely populated southern and eastern parts of the old town , had up to 20,000 members at that time.

During the imperial era, numerous national commemorations took place in the Paulskirche. The parliamentarians Ernst Moritz Arndt , Ludwig Uhland and Wilhelm Jordan were honored . In 1908 the opening ceremony of the 11th German Gymnastics Festival took place, at which 12,000 gymnasts from all over the world visited the Paulskirche and a memorial plaque with a silver ribbon was attached to Friedrich Ludwig Jahns Platz in Parliament. After the centenary commemorating the wars of freedom had taken place on March 10, 1913 with great public sympathy , the Paulskirche had finally become a national memorial.

Weimar Republic

Ebert memorial by Richard Scheibe
Paulskirche still with a round roof in the
Treuner old town model of Frankfurt from 1926

With the November Revolution, the sovereign church government collapsed. The supporters of a separation of state and church prevailed among the democratic forces , as had already been called for in the Paulskirche constitution . In November 1918, the new Prussian minister of culture and active church opponent Adolph Hoffmann issued a series of relevant ordinances and had religious instruction as a regular subject abolished. Hoffmann, however, resigned from his office for health reasons at the beginning of 1919, and the moderate forces insisted that the relationship between state and church be organized under public law . In the Weimar constitution of August 1919, freedom of religion and the church's right to self-determination were guaranteed.

The consequences of the First World War , especially the inflation of 1923 , led to an increasing impoverishment of the old town . The Paulsgemeinde was particularly hard hit. Support associations such as the “Evangelical People's Service” with voluntary helpers particularly took care of the numerous young people whose future prospects were bleak because of the social misery. Attempts were made to counter the growing distance from the church in the organized labor movement through a “Christian people's mission”.

Politically, most of the pastors in the Frankfurt Church belonged to the German national camp. They were suspicious of the republic and feared a general decline in customs and morals as a result of the increasing secularization of society. Social democracy and especially the communist godless movement vehemently rejected them. Particularly noteworthy is Karl Veidt (1879–1946), who worked at the Paulskirche from 1918 to 1925 and 1929 to 1939 . Veidt was a distinguished theologian and at the same time a member of the German National People's Party in the Reichstag and in the Prussian state parliament.

The Paulskirche became a focal point of political disputes in the 1920s, as it was a symbol both for the church and for the non-church parties of the Weimar Republic. Since 1922, the constitutional celebrations have been held in the church every year on August 11th. Representatives of the Reich government, all German states and Austria attended the commemoration ceremony for the 75th anniversary of the National Assembly in 1923.

When the first freely elected German head of state, Reich President Friedrich Ebert , died, the Frankfurt magistrate decided on March 2, 1925 to dedicate a memorial on the facade of the Paulskirche to him. The sculptor Richard Scheibe designed a monumental male nude figure made of bronze in just seven days , which was placed on a stone plinth in the eastern niche between the tower and the church hall at a height of four meters.

The then church council of the Paulsgemeinde protested against the monument. The Social Democratic People's Voice responded on July 28, 1926.

"The parish council of the Paulskirche, which has been known for a long time as a branch of the German National and Völkisch party, dares to take a position in a letter to the magistrate against the erection of a Ebert memorial at the Paulskirche."

The newspaper interpreted the protest in a purely political way; she did not address the moral and aesthetic concerns of the conservative church representatives against the statue of a naked man at the church.

Ultimately, the authority prevailed as the owner of the church against opposition from the community. On August 11, 1926, Mayor Ludwig Landmann inaugurated the memorial statue on the occasion of the constitutional ceremony. The parish newspaper “Der Paulskirchenbote” commented sarcastically on the memorial: “Germany, whose last shirt was taken off” - an allusion to the naked youth and the reparation payments that Germany was obliged to pay under the Versailles Treaty .

A quote from Pastor Struckmeier from the commemorative publication on the centenary of St. Paul's Church in 1933 shows the bitterness that prevailed in the community about the state's claim to the church.

“Attempts to make the Paulskirche serve the democratic-republican-pacifist idea must include the constitutional celebrations organized by the authorities in the church for years, in which speakers had their say whose thoughts had nothing to do with a national, let alone Christian spirit had more to do ... The most visible and most impressive attempt in this direction was the installation of the Ebert memorial mark on the outer wall of the church ... It took a national revolution first to put an end to this act of rape national and evangelical sentiments. "

After the National Socialists came to power, the memorial was dismantled on April 12, 1933. The KPD's "Arbeiterzeitung", which is now illegally publishing, commented in its April issue:

“Without Ebert, Noske , Severing etc. it would have been impossible for the SA and SS to be walking around today. We communists propose to the Nazis to bring the Ebert statue back to its old place and to hang the highest Nazi medal around his neck for immortal merits for the reaction. "

The memorial survived the National Socialist era and was stored in the basement of the Völkerkundemuseum , but was no longer erected in its original location after the war, as the artist spoke out against it. Instead, with the consent of the city, he created a new figure, more oriented towards classical ideals, which was inaugurated on February 28, 1950. The original Ebert memorial has stood in the courtyard of the historical museum since 1989 .

The time of National Socialism

Aerial view of the old town before its destruction (1942)

After the National Socialist seizure of power , which took place in Frankfurt with the local elections on March 12, 1933, the Church first welcomed the “national revolution” and tried to combine it with its idea of ​​a comprehensive popular mission. On March 21, Pastor Veidt preached to around 1,500 visitors, including numerous police officers, in a service on the occasion of the opening of the Reichstag, the “ Day of Potsdam ” and criticized the Weimar Republic in sharp words: “It was not only a crime, but also an obvious one It was folly that in the revolution of 1918 and with the new state building in 1919 the break with the national, spiritual, moral and religious forces that shaped and made our people great was carried out. ”He warned that the national movement must“ over to peter out for a short or long time… if they do not “get their supporting power… from Jesus and from the Gospel. “State, people and nationality belong in the realm of the ephemeral, while the starting point and end of the kingdom of God lie in eternity.” Unlike many of his fellow officials, Veidt had been a prominent opponent of National Socialism since 1929 . In protest against Alfred Hugenberg's political course , he switched from the DNVP to the Christian Social Service , for which he was a member of the Prussian state parliament until 1933 .

Soon after the takeover of power, Veidt was one of the leading representatives of the Pastors' Emergency League and from 1934 was chairman of the Nassau-Hessen State Brotherhood of the Confessing Church . He became one of the main characters in the church struggle in Frankfurt. In the autumn of 1934 he was reprimanded by the church administration and transferred to another position. Veidt had protested against the compulsory merger of the three Evangelical regional churches of Frankfurt, Hesse and Nassau and against the appointment of the new regional bishop Ernst Ludwig Dietrich , a representative of the ethnic German Christians . Veidt refused, however, to vacate his position at the Paulskirche and sued the church leadership at the Frankfurt regional court. On March 10, 1935, the locks of the Paulskirche and the Alte Nikolaikirche were swapped to prevent him from entering the church. With the help of a few followers, he got to the Old Nikolaikirche and held one sermon after the other there all day. Mayor Friedrich Krebs then ordered the closure of the Paulskirche on March 16, citing the property rights of the city, but was instructed by the district president in Wiesbaden on April 9 to remain neutral. On April 30, Veidt won his trial against the church leadership. The disciplinary measures were withdrawn, and from autumn 1935 Veidt was again allowed to officiate as Paulskirche pastor. Although he had successfully got through his fight against the regional church, he was exposed to increasing persecution by the Gestapo in the following years . Veidt was gag occupied and taken several times in prison. In 1939 he moved to the Matthäuskirche in Westend , where he witnessed the war and the destruction of the city.

During the Second World War, the Paulskirche was hit by five incendiary bombs during the first bomb attack on the city center on October 4, 1943 , but they were quickly extinguished and did no damage. Thereupon the fire protection measures were strengthened. Ceilings and beams were impregnated with fire retardants and all doors were shielded with asbestos sheets. A fire watch has been set up in the church.

The last service in the church took place on March 12, 1944. The next heavy air raid followed on March 18, 1944, causing severe damage, especially in the eastern old town. The Paulskirche and its surroundings were initially intact, but towards the end of the attack some incendiary bombs hit and set the roof on fire. Since the prepared fire hoses could not be used because of the pressure drop in the hydrant , the fire ate its way through the roof structure until the framework collapsed and also destroyed the interior. Four days later the next bomb attack took place, which also almost completely destroyed the rest of the old town of Frankfurt.

The rebuilt Paulskirche as a national monument

Reconstruction of the church in 1947
Paulskirche in the 1950s
Paulskirche 1976

As a national symbol for freedom and due to its role as the cradle of democracy in Germany, it was rebuilt as one of the first buildings in Frankfurt after the Second World War under the direction of Rudolf Schwarz (together with Eugen Blanck , Gottlob Schaupp and Johannes Krahn ). The new foundation stone was laid on March 17, 1947 .

For reasons of cost and lack of building material, the original interior design was changed significantly during the reconstruction. A new intermediate floor separates the basement, which is now used as an exhibition room, from the actual hall on the upper floor. Above all, however, a flat roof was built in place of the earlier dome and frosted glass windows were used.

The rebuilt church was opened for the centenary of the National Assembly on May 18, 1948. The keynote address was given by Fritz von Unruh . His “Speech to the Germans” was a critical analysis of the Nazi era. On August 28, 1948, Fritz von Unruh was awarded the Goethe Prize of the City of Frankfurt in the Paulskirche . Since 1949 the Goethe Prize i. d. Awarded every three years in the Paulskirche.

Due to the destruction in the Second World War, the population of the old town declined sharply. The St. Paul's Congregation, which had become smaller, no longer needed such a large church. It was therefore assigned the much smaller Old Nikolaikirche on the Römerberg as a parish church in 1949 . On May 12, 1953, the Paulskirche was removed from the previous endowment obligation and exchanged for the Dominican monastery . The city committed itself that the cross on the church may not be removed. Since then, the Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau has had a right of use, which it seldom makes use of as the space is not very suitable for church services today. Instead, the Katharinenkirche , located at the Hauptwache , developed into the main Protestant church in Frankfurt.

Since 1948 the Paulskirche is no longer a church, but is mainly used for exhibitions and state or city events. The best known is the award of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair . The first two book fairs were held in the Paulskirche in 1949 and 1950, after which it was moved to the exhibition grounds.

In 1955 a congress of members of the SPD , DGB and All-German People's Party against rearmament took place in the church. The subsequent short-lived extra-parliamentary movement became known as the Paulskirche movement.

On June 25, 1963, the US President John F. Kennedy visited Frankfurt and spoke in the Paulskirche. In his address he pointed out that “no other building in Germany could lay claim to the honorary title of the cradle of German democracy ”.

From 1988 to 1991 the Paulskirche was renovated. In the process, she received new windows that were reminiscent of the historic windows before 1944. The restoration of the old domed roof, which was also discussed, did not take place; the simple flat roof of the post-war period was meanwhile also worthy of monument protection. On April 16, 1991, the colossal mural The procession of the representatives to Paulskirche by the Berlin painter Johannes Grützke was ceremoniously unveiled.

On June 12, 1994, the French artist Philippe Petit stretched a 300 meter long rope between Paulskirche and cathedral and performed a thirty-minute high wire run on it . At a height of 60 to 70 meters he mimicked important events from Frankfurt history. The performance was accompanied by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra of the Hessian Broadcasting Corporation . It was a high point of the 1200 year celebrations of the city of Frankfurt am Main and came about on the initiative of the Tigerpalast variety theater .

For the 150th anniversary of the National Assembly in 1998, the permanent exhibition “The Paulskirche. Symbol of democratic freedom and national unity ”redesigned.


In 2017, the Frankfurt magistrate commissioned an expert opinion to determine the need for renovation of the Paulskirche. The necessary work should be completed by the 175th anniversary of the National Assembly and the 75th anniversary of the reconstruction of St. Paul's Church in 2023. In addition, the Paulskirche is to be upgraded to a place of learning for democracy and expanded to include a visitor and documentation center. Federal President Steinmeier called for the design of the Paulskirche as a “modern memorial for democracy” to be supported from federal funds.

Triggered by an appeal by Benedikt Erenz in Die Zeit in October 2017, a public discussion began as to whether the building status of 1848 with the historic domed roof and galleries in the interior should be restored as part of the renovation or the building status from 1948 should be preserved. The former would emphasize the importance of the Paulskirche as a Protestant church and conference venue of the Frankfurt National Assembly , the latter the importance as a monument of German post-war modernism and a symbol of the democratic new beginning of Germany. Erenz criticized that the reconstruction of 1948 by the architect Rudolf Schwarz had led to a “lying condition” and was comparable to a “second destruction”. A renovation must bring the parliamentary room from 1848 to life again. Schwarz did not understand anything of the political importance of the Paulskirche and ordered the building a “noble penitential architecture”, “as if the Paulskirche parliament, of all things, had been guilty of the German Fall”. The Federal Republic must take advantage of the opportunity to renovate it now to "finally prepare and present the Paulskirche as it is due to the original cell, the national core of German democracy".

The decision in the Frankfurt city council is delayed because the concept for the renovation is to be accompanied by a citizens' dialogue at the request of the mayor. Those in charge of the coalition parties in the Frankfurt magistrate have spoken out against a reconstruction of the situation in 1848. This would "restore a monument reminding of a failed democracy." In addition, practical considerations speak against it, such as a lack of space for cloakrooms and receptions, and the formerly existing galleries could not be used at all in the event of a reconstruction for fire protection reasons. Erenz replies that the Paulskirche parliament did not fail, but rather "those who stood in the way of these basic rights and suppressed the ideas of 1848: the Wilhelmine Empire and the Nazi regime ". Mayor Peter Feldmann (SPD), on the other hand, expects a compromise between supporters of a reconstruction and supporters of the existing building. In addition, possible design wishes of the Federal President should be taken into account.

In November 2019, the Frankfurt council coalition made up of CDU, SPD and Greens agreed to only have the building renovated and thus to preserve the historical state of the reconstruction of 1948. In the vicinity, a "House of Democracy" is to be built as a new building, although the location and design are still unclear.


Floor plan, 1896

The Paulskirche is a classicist building with the shape of an ellipse, whose longest diameter is approx. 40 meters and whose shortest diameter is approx. 30 meters. A three-story tower on a square floor plan is attached to the long side in the south of the ellipse. The tower entrance is decorated with a gable front supported by two Doric half-columns. The window openings on the upper floors of the tower are framed by flat pilasters , on the second floor by Doric ones and on the third floor by Ionic ones . The eaves are at a height of 28 meters.

On the north-east and north-west side there are two staircases that go up to the height of the attic . A dome-shaped German roof rose above the attic until it was destroyed in 1944 , loosened up by seven small mansards . The roof structure made of thousands of trusses and struts made of fir and oak spanned a self-supporting drum that was 37 meters in diameter . The original design by Johann Friedrich Christian Hess showed even more clearly the model of the Pantheon in Rome . He provided a large skylight to illuminate the church from above. However, this design could not be carried out for reasons of cost.

When it was rebuilt after the Second World War, the architect Rudolf Schwarz did without the high dome and erected a slightly arched roof covered with copper. This decision was later often criticized, but the circumstances of the reconstruction did not allow otherwise. The lack of timber and qualified carpenters alone would not have allowed the complicated roof beams to be reconstructed. With the prevailing housing shortage, it would also have been politically unjustifiable to go to greater lengths to rebuild a monument. During the renovation of Paulskirche from 1984 to 1988, the post-war decision was respected and the restoration of the original condition was waived.

The current situation is judged controversially in the professional world. The art historian Christian Welzbacher compared the two stages of construction with the words that Schwarz had "transformed the Protestant sacred building into a Catholic secular building ". The architecture critic Dieter Bartetzko described the Paulskirche as it was in 1948 as “the place in which the penitentiary walk took shape after the war”.

The bell cage is built into the third floor of the tower . Above it rises a copper-covered lantern , in which an astronomical observation station was set up by the Physikalischer Verein in 1838 . Until 1893, the other Frankfurt clocks were adjusted according to the time signals given daily from here.

The facade of the Paulskirche is divided into two floors that rise on a low plinth. Originally there were no windows in the basement, only when the building was rebuilt after the war window openings were made here to illuminate the newly created basement.

Large arched windows on the first and second floors ensure that the interior is well lit. The interior designed by Hess was oriented towards the south, where the altar was located on the inside of the tower, above the pulpit and the organ on the gallery. The gallery was supported by 20 Corinthian columns and offered space for 1200 people. Over 500 people could sit on the ground floor.

All places were oriented to the south, towards the tower portal. There were the altar and pulpit (in the form of a pulpit altar), and the organ above on the gallery . The three essential elements of Lutheran worship were symbolically combined, the sacrament , the proclamation and the praise.

When the church was inaugurated, its poor acoustics were already evident . The reverberation time was far too long at over five seconds and forced the preacher to speak unnaturally slowly and stretched out. Despite several attempts, the problems were never resolved. First a sound cover was placed over the pulpit. To prepare the church as a meeting room for the National Assembly, an additional wooden ceiling, covered with canvas and painted with glue paint, was suspended from the roof structure.

During the reconstruction, the interior concept was completely changed. The church was given a basement, in which the necessary ancillary rooms were set up. A staircase in the tower entrance leads to a four-meter-high foyer with a column of marble columns. Two stairs lead from the foyer along the curved wall into the hall, which is therefore much higher than in the old church. The 28 meter high ballroom is kept very simple, right down to the stalls that are reminiscent of an auditorium or a parliament. By doing without the galleries, the room appears more monumental than before the destruction. The only decorations on the walls are the flags of the Federal Republic of Germany , the sixteen federal states and the city of Frankfurt.

Panorama: interior of the Paulskirche (plenary hall, upper floor) (2010)

Urban situation

Paulskirche on the Ravenstein map from 1861
View from Frankfurt Cathedral, in front of the rebuilt Römerberg of the old town, Dec. 2012
Back of the Paulskirche in the evening
Paulskirche in April 2011

The Paulskirche was built in the area between Neue Kräme in the east, Großer Sandgasse in the north, Wedelgasse and Paulsgasse in the south and Kornmarkt in the west. During the construction period it was surrounded by dense buildings on all sides. Only after the abandonment of the old monastery building in 1840 did a reasonably spacious, newly laid out square, Paulsplatz, extend to the south in front of the tower facade .

In the east of the church, between Paulsplatz and Neuer Kräme, a block of houses was built at about the same time as the church, the northern end of which was the Old Stock Exchange , which was built between 1840 and 1842 . The area for this new block became free because the east-west-oriented Barfüßerkirche and its monastery buildings had a larger extension to the east, while the Paulskirche, as a central building, had a north-south extension about twice as large, but not as far to the east was enough.

The cramped location of the church, which barely allowed the spacious structure to have any effect, was already criticized by contemporaries. In 1797 Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote :

“Unfortunately, the new main Lutheran church gives us a lot to think about. It is not reprehensible as a building, whether it is built in the most modern sense; but since there is no place in the city where it could and should actually stand, one has probably made the greatest mistake in choosing such a shape for such a place. Since it is unlikely that much will be broken off all around, it embroidered between buildings that are immobile because of their nature and preciousness, and yet wants to be seen from all sides; you should be able to go around it at a great distance ... Around it is the greatest crowd and movement of the fair, and it is not thought of how any shop could take place. So, at least during the time of the Mass, you will have to push wooden booths up to them, which may become immobile over time, as you can still see at the Katharinenkirche and formerly around the cathedral of Strasbourg . "

The contemporary representations, for example at the opening of the National Assembly , make the square appear larger than it was. The delegates who move into the church in the picture must have either squeezed through the narrow Wedelgasse or come out of the Roman hall that opens onto the square.

From 1893 to 1906, a road breakthrough was carried out to develop the old town with modern means of transport . The street line Bethmannstrasse and Braubachstrasse ran in a west-east direction roughly in the course of the previous Paulsgasse over the southern edge of Paulsplatz. To the east of the Neue Kräme, the new street was laid right through the city blocks of the old town, with numerous valuable buildings, including the Nürnberger Hof , being demolished. At the same time as the road was built, the New Town Hall (1900–1908, Franz von Hoven and Ludwig Neher ), bordering the Römer to the west, was built. The components north and south of Bethmannstrasse were connected by a bridge. At the newly created intersection of Neue Kräme and Braubachstrasse, Paulsplatz and Römerberg now merged directly into one another. Diagonally across from the medieval salt house , one of the most beautiful half-timbered houses in the city, a large residential and commercial building was built (F. Geldermacher, 1906), which, despite its Wilhelminian dimensions, took up architectural elements from the Baroque old town houses. After the road breakthrough was completed, the tram also drove across Paulsplatz.

The destruction of the old town in March 1944 and the subsequent reconstruction changed the area around the church significantly. The street block built with the church at the beginning of the 19th century was not rebuilt, so today Paulsplatz extends as far as the Neue Kräme. At the beginning of the 1950s, another road breakthrough was carried out north parallel to the first, this time for the sake of the car-friendly city . Around the course of the Große Sandgasse-Schnurgasse, north past the Paulskirche, a four-lane traffic lane, the Berliner Straße , was cut through the ruins of the old town. There is now a parking lot for tourist buses on this street, directly behind the Paulskirche. This situation certainly facilitates the process of city tours, but does not serve to create an attractive cityscape.

The Neue Kräme, which today forms the east side of Paulsplatz, has become an attractive location for numerous street cafés, thanks to the unobstructed view of the Paulskirche, whose terraces take up large parts of the square in summer. In addition to a few other festivities, the Frankfurt Christmas Market takes place on Paulsplatz, as well as on Römerberg and in Neue Kräme .

To the west of the church is the extension of the New Town Hall, to the north and south the two openings in the streets of Berlinerstrasse and Braubachstrasse lead past it. The urban planning situation of the original time was thus turned into the exact opposite: instead of the narrow and extremely densely built-up integration into the structure of the old town, the church is now exposed on three sides.



Interior of the Paulskirche around 1833 with the Walcker organ

It is not known when the first organ in the Barfüßerkirche was built. One or more organ builders have always been based in Frankfurt since the 14th century . In 1466 two organs are mentioned in the Barfüßerkirche; it can be assumed that at least one of them existed for a long time. The second probably came from Leonhard Mertz , also known as Magister Leonhardus , who was elected Guardian of the Barefoot Convention in 1470 . He was one of the most important organ builders of his time and there is evidence that he created several works in Frankfurt, for example for St. Bartholomew, the Church of Our Lady and the Church of the White Woman .

Hardly any evidence of the organs is known from the 16th century. Lersner reports in his chronicle that from 1599 to 1604 the Grorock brothers built a new organ with 10 stops for the Barefoot Church. At that time there had been no organist at the church for a long time, so that probably none of the older organs had been in use. The new work, decorated by the painter Philipp Uffenbach , cost 1000 guilders and was considered a wonderfully good work . On the woodcut from 1653 you can see it on the right as a " swallow's nest organ" on the south wall of the nave at the height of the gallery. The Grorock organ existed for over 100 years and was renewed again and again, for example in 1624 by Nikolaus Grünwald from Nuremberg and in 1671.

In 1736 the city council commissioned the Swiss organ builder Johann Conrad Wegmann to build a new organ, which was completed by Johann Christian Köhler in 1740 . The disposition of the very large work with 41 registers for the time is passed down through a description of the Alsatian organ master Johann Andreas Silbermann , who competed with Wegmann , in which he criticizes the work of his competitor and quotes his former journeyman Nicolaus Seitz with the following words: “First of all, she blows like the living devil and already howls and is sounded like when the dog puked. The Schien (= prospectus ) sees Bley's feet twisting, he can't have seen his day as a miserable life as that. "

However, the council seemed to be quite satisfied with the work, which had cost 16,000 guilders. In 1766 he had it extensively restored by Philipp Ernst Wegmann . When the Barefoot Church was demolished in 1786, the organ was dismantled and stored in the neighboring high school. The long storage period was not good for her, however: whether due to a lack of care during dismantling or because of the willfulness of the high school students - in 1808 only remains of the organ were left, which were sold to master locksmith Dissmann for 715 guilders.

In 1824, before the resumption of construction on the still unfinished Paulskirche, the council put a new organ to tender. 15 well-known organ builders "from all German districts" applied, including the young Eberhard Friedrich Walcker from Ludwigsburg . He proposed a new type of disposition with a high proportion of basic voices and relatively few aliquots, mixtures and tongue registers, as he had got to know from Abbé Vogler . On February 27, 1827 he was awarded the contract by the Frankfurt Organ Commission, which had examined the offers.

Walcker worked on the new organ, his opus 9, in his Ludwigsburg workshop for almost six years . All parts were transported to Frankfurt by water via Neckar , Rhine and Main . Since the Zollverein did not yet exist, the parts had to be cleared three times on the way: in Mannheim , Mainz and Höchst . The structure and especially the intonation of the organ presented Walcker with unexpected difficulties. In particular, the open 32-foot register in the pedal, which was very demanding for the time, failed in the first attempts. After a few modifications, however, his intonation succeeded, and at the inauguration of Paulskirche on June 9, 1833, the organ sounded for the first time in front of a large audience. The Frankfurter Zeitung wrote on June 14, 1833: "The new organ is now there as a masterpiece, which in terms of strength of tone, diversity, delicacy and purity of the voices is inferior to any organ known up to now, and far surpasses most of them."

The Walcker organ had 74 registers , divided into three manuals and two pedals . According to Walcker's workshop book, the disposition was:

I. Main work C – f 3
01. Grand Praestant 16 ′
02. Viola di gamba 16 ′
03. Flauto major 16 ′
04th Man. Undersass0 32 '
05. Great Octav 08th'
06th Viola di gamba 08th'
07th Gemshorn 08th'
08th. Open flute 08th'
09. Quint 5 13
10. Octav 04 ′
11. Hollow flute 04 ′
12. Fugara 04 ′
13. Gemshorn 04 ′
14th third 3 15
15th Princ. Quint 2 23
16. Kl.Octav 02 ′
17th Forest flute 02 ′
18th Third discant 1 35
19th Cornett 10 23
20th Mixture 5 times
21st Sharp 4 times
22nd Super octave 01'
23. bassoon 16 ′
24. Trumpet 08th'
II. Manual C – f 3
25th Praestant 08th'
26th Gedekt 16 ′
27. Salicional 08th'
28. Dolce 08th'
29 Floet travers 04 ′
30th Great Gedekt 08th'
31. Quintfloete 5 13
32. Octav 04 ′
33. Quintatos 08th'
34. Reed flute 04 ′
35. Gemshorn fifth 0
36. Octav 02 ′
37. Mixture 5 times
38. trombone 08th'
39. Vox humana 08th'
III. Manual (swell) C – f 3
40. Praestant 08th'
41. Quintatos 16 ′
42. Harmonica 08th'
43. Dolcißimo 08th'
44. Bifra 08th'
45. Hohfloete 08th'
46. Spitz flute 04 ′
47. Darling 08th'
48. Flûte d'amour 04 ′
49. Flautino 02 ′
50. Nasard 2 23
51. Clarinet 08th'
52. Physharmonica0 08th'
I. Pedal C – d 1
53. PrincipalB. 16 ′
54. Bass major open0 32 ′
55. Contra bass 16 ′
56. Octav bass 16 ′
57. Violon bass 16 ′
58. Quint bass 10 23
59. Octav bass 08th'
60. Violoncello 08th'
61. Third open 10 23
62. Quint 05 13
63. Octav 04 ′
64. Flute 04 ′
65. trombone 16 ′
66. Trumpet 08th'
67. Clarine 04 ′
68. Krumhorn 02 ′
II. Pedal C – d 1
69. Gedekt 16 ′
70. Praestant 08th'
71. Flute 08th'
72. Flute 04 ′
73. bassoon 16 ′
74. Forest flute0 02 ′


  1. deep Oct. is missing
  2. 2 23
  3. ↑ crossed out with pencil and overwritten 6 25
  4. "ged" added with blue pen
  5. "ged" added with blue pen

As a side move, Walcker mentions:

  1. A shut-off valve for every piano
  2. Tremulant II. Clav.
  3. Crescendo box for III. Piano
  4. Crescendo footsteps to the vox humana
  5. I Ped. to the main work
  6. I Ped. z. II Ped.
  7. Copel II Ped. z. II. Man.
  8. Copel v. IM z. II. Man.
  9. Copel v. II. M. z. III. Man.
  10. Crescendo footsteps III. Piano

It was the first organ that Walcker had provided with a swell box. To supply the instrument with wind , twelve bellows were required, which were kicked by two calcants .

The organ represented a milestone in the history of organ building and made Walcker famous in one fell swoop. The council offered him Frankfurt citizenship . However, Walcker refused because he had received a call to Russia, where in the following years he created two large organs in Saint Petersburg and Reval . In 1844 the French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll visited St. Paul's Church to study the organ. He characterized its sound as beautiful, but - due to an inadequate wind supply - too timid: "It is a beautiful man, but infested with consumption."

The organ was always well maintained in the following decades. At the end of the 19th century, however, the increasing wear and tear of the mechanics and the bellows made extensive repairs necessary. In 1898 the building construction department commissioned the Walcker company to do this. The organ was not only repaired, but also rebuilt according to the sound ideal of the late romantic era. The new disposition was based even more on the orchestral sound than was previously the case. By removing the second pedal, the organ was reduced to 63 voices. The previous grinding chests were converted to cone chests with a pneumatic action and the activity of the calcants was replaced by an electric fan. The pneumatic action did not, however, prove itself; it was converted to an electric action by Walcker in 1910. The organ existed in this form until its demise on March 18, 1944.

During the reconstruction in 1947, the Walcker company was commissioned to plan a new instrument. A three-manual organ with 50 registers arose. However, the currency reform devalued the donations that had been collected up to that point, and the city of Frankfurt was unable to meet its funding commitments. On December 8, 1948, a provisional organ was installed. The console had three manuals, of which only the III. Manual with 13 registers. A pedal was not installed at all.

Klais organ from 1988

The temporary arrangement lasted for almost forty years, until a new organ was built by the Bonn-based organ building company Klais as part of the church renovation in 1988 . The new Paulskirche organ is a medium-sized work with 45 registers , divided into three manuals and a pedal .

I Rückpositiv C – g 3
01. Dumped 08th'
02. Quintad 08th'
03. Praestant 04 ′
04th Reed flute 04 ′
05. Nasard 2 23
06th Forest flute 02 ′
07th third 1 35
08th. Fifth 1 13
09. Scharff IV
10. Cromorne0 08th'
II Hauptwerk C – g 3
11. Bourdon 16 ′
12. Principal 08th'
13. Double flute0 08th'
14th Viol 08th'
15th Octave 04 ′
16. Hollow flute 04 ′
17th Fifth 2 23
18th Octave 02 ′
19th Mixture V
20th Cymbel III
21st Cornet V 08th'
22nd Trumpet 08th'
III Swell C – g 3
23. Dumped 16 ′
24. Principal 08th'
25th Reed flute 08th'
26th Salicional 08th'
27. Voix Celeste 08th'
28. Octave 04 ′
29 Flauto Traverso 04 ′
30th Fifth 2 23
31. Piccolo 02 ′
32. Progressio III-V0
33. Basson 16 ′
34. oboe 08th'
35. Clairon 04 ′
Pedal C – f 1
36. Praestant 16 ′
37. Sub bass 16 ′
38. Octave 08th'
39. Dumped 08th'
40. Octave 04 ′
41. Night horn 04 ′
42. Rauschpfeife IV – V0
43. trombone 16 ′
44. Trumpet 08th'
45. Clarine 04 ′
  • Coupling : I / II, III / II, I / P, II / P, III / P


The preserved bells barefoot bell ( left) and thank you bell (right)

The old Barefoot Church received its first roof turret around 1300. Presumably the church only had one bell, plus a clock with two small bells in the choir. In 1685 the church bell of the Barfüßerkirche burst. As a result, a new roof turret was erected, which provided space for three bells, which were supplied by the bell founder Benedict Schneidewind .

When the Barfüßerkirche was demolished in 1786, the bells were removed and stored in order to be transferred to the new building. In the next forty years, however, the smallest of the barefoot bells shattered. In 1829, the city council decided to buy a new bell. The middle barefoot bell was given to the Catholic community and placed in the tower of the Teutonic Order Church ; the large barefoot bell was transferred to the new Paulskirche. In addition, three more bells were cast in 1830 by Carl Mappes , the last bell founder in Frankfurt. The ringing consisted of four bells:

(16th note)
Foundry, casting location
Casting year
1 Christ bell cis 1 1830 1470 Gebrüder Barthels & Mappes, Frankfurt am Main 1830
2 Barefoot bell e 1 +10 970 1187 Benedict Schneidewind, Frankfurt am Main 1685
3 Thank you bell g 1 +1 500 984 Gebrüder Barthels & Mappes, Frankfurt am Main 1830
4th Luther bell h 1 220 720 Gebrüder Barthels & Mappes, Frankfurt am Main 1830

During the First World War , when around half of the Frankfurt bells were delivered and melted down as a raw material essential to the war effort, the Paulskirche chime was preserved because of its historical value. In 1942, however, the Christ and Thank You bells were confiscated and transported to the so-called bell cemetery in Hamburg . Since every church was allowed to keep a bell, the small Luther bell was chosen. On March 18, 1944, it went down with the Paulskirche in the firestorm .

The barefoot bell was brought to St. Peter's Church in exchange for a younger bell of the same size and remained there as a ringing bell. It survived the fire in St. Peter's Church, got stuck there in the inaccessible tower after the war and was forgotten.

Of the bells from all over Germany that were delivered to Hamburg, around 14,000 survived the war, including the two bells of Paulskirche in addition to the full bell of the cathedral. On August 15, 1947, they were returned to Frankfurt. Initially, however, they did not come to the Paulskirche, as it was supposed to have a new bell when it was rebuilt.

The Chamber of Commerce of the British occupation zone donated a monumental steel bell , the Evangelical Church in Thuringia donated four bronze bells from the Schilling foundry in Apolda . All bells had failed musically, which was due to the wrong construction of the steel bells and the lack of high-quality bell bronze for the bronze bells.

The preserved Christ bell was brought back to the tower of the Paulskirche, the thank-you bell went to the historical museum . The lost barefoot bell, which was discovered in 1965 during the reconstruction of St. Peter's Church, was also found there.

Because of their tonal deficiencies, the post-war bells have not been rung since the 1980s. In 1987 the plan for the Frankfurt city bells, which the bell expert Paul Smets had developed in 1954, was completed. The post-war bells were handed over to the Historical Museum and replaced by three new bells from the Karlsruhe bell foundry. The citizen bell (f sharp 0 ) commemorates the proclamation of civil and human rights by the National Assembly. It bears the inscription BÜRGERGLOCKE HEISSE ICH / DER BÜRGER RECHTE KÜNDE I / DIE KARLSRUHER BELL FOUNDRY GOSS MICH 1987 and a book of pictures with events in German history from 1848 to 1949. It is one of the largest bells made in Germany after the Second World War. The bell jewelry was designed by Harry MacLean . The city bell (h 0 ) is intended to commemorate the dead in the war and the destruction of the city. The Luther bell (h 1 ) is a copy of the burnt Luther bell from 1830 , both in terms of the strike tone and its inscriptions and decoration. The historic Christ bell (cis 1 ) broke out of its yoke when the city tolled on Whit Saturday 1997 and fell down was completely destroyed. As a replacement, the Rincker company in Sinn cast a new c-sharp 1 bell of the same weight in 1998 , the anniversary bell , named after the 150th anniversary of the Frankfurt National Assembly. Together with the historical bells, this results in the following disposition of the Paulskirche bells:

(16th note)
Foundry, casting location
Casting year
1 Citizen Bell f sharp 0 +1 8590 2266 Bell and art foundry, Karlsruhe 1987
2 City bell h 0 +1 3690 1689 Bell and art foundry, Karlsruhe 1987
3 Anniversary bell c sharp 1 +6 1755 1466 Bell foundry Rincker, Sinn 1998
4th Barefoot bell e 1 +10 970 1187 Benedict Schneidewind, Frankfurt am Main 1685
5 Thank you bell g 1 +1 500 981 Gebrüder Barthels & Mappes, Frankfurt am Main 1830
6th Luther bell h 1 +5 437 860 Bell and art foundry, Karlsruhe 1987

The total weight of the Paulskirche bells is 15,942 kg. This makes it the second largest in Frankfurt after the cathedral bell.


The foyer

In 1987 the Berlin painter Johannes Grützke won an artist competition to design a 32 by three meter frieze for the inside of the oval walkway. His colossal painting Der Zug der Volksvertreter was created between 1989 and 1991 in his studio in Berlin, from where it was transported to the church. In ten scenes it shows the parliamentarians in relation to the people. While the people - colorful, allegorical figures - remain in the foreground, their representatives, clad in monochrome gray and black, walk past behind them, towards an invisible goal. The German Reich is depicted as an antique woman statue, which supports her pregnant body with her left hand. There are only isolated references to specific historical events, e.g. B. in the portrayal of the fusilized Robert Blum .


In 1985 the permanent exhibition “The Paulskirche. Symbol of Democratic Freedom and National Unity ”and updated and revised in 1998 for the 150th anniversary of the National Assembly. Today it is a station on the street of democracy . Occasionally special exhibitions take place here. In 1997, for example, the controversial first version of the Wehrmacht exhibition of extermination war. Crimes of the Wehrmacht 1941–1944 shown by the Hamburg Institute for Social Research . The controversial public discussions on this representation of the crimes of the Wehrmacht later led to the revision of the traveling exhibition shown in many cities. From time to time exhibitions are also held in the basement of the Paulskirche.

Panels and monuments

Plaque in memory of the National Assembly
Memorial for the victims of National Socialism by Hans Wimmer

Over the years, numerous plaques and memorials have been placed on the outside facade of the church to commemorate important people or events in German history. The first was the already mentioned memorial for the first Reich President Friedrich Ebert, created by the then director of the Städel Art Institute, Richard Scheibe . It was inaugurated on August 11, 1926 and removed again on April 12, 1933 after the National Socialists came to power. After the reconstruction, Richard Scheibe created a new statue for the Ebert monument, because he had objected to the restoration of the old Ebert monument.The new Ebert monument was opened on February 28, 1950 by the mayor of Frankfurt, Walter Kolb, and the Prime Minister of Hesse Christian Stock solemnly unveiled. The monument is on the east side of the tower.

To the left below the Ebert monument, a memorial plaque was placed in 1980 on the 275th anniversary of Philipp Jakob Spener's death . She recalls that Spener was a senior at the Lutheran Ministry of Preachers in Frankfurt from 1666 to 1686 . During this time, his main work Pia Desideria, or Heartfelt Desire for God-Pleasing Improvement of the True Evangelical Church , published in 1675, was created , and in 1670 he founded the first collegia pietatis ( house groups ).

On the southeast side of the nave is a memorial plaque for the Hessian Prime Minister Georg-August Zinn . Following is a stone relief plaque for Heinrich Friedrich Karl Freiherr von Stein , who in 1816 for his services to the restoration of urban freedom to freeman was appointed. The plaque was put up in 1931 on the 100th year of his death.

With Theodor Heuss another honorary citizen of Frankfurt dedicated a little further north a plaque. On the northeast side of the church there is a relief plaque for the murdered American President John F. Kennedy, unveiled on June 25, 1966 by Mayor Willi Brundert . On June 25, 1963, he had given a speech in the Paulskirche, from which the plaque quoted the sentence: "Nobody should say of this generation of our Atlanteans that we have left ideals and visions of the past, striving for purpose and determination to our opponents."

In 2002, a plaque of the German Gymnastics Federation was placed next to the north entrance of the Paulskirche . On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of gymnastics father Jahn, the historical connection between the gymnastics movement and the National Assembly is honored.

A memorial to the victims of National Socialism has been located on the north-western stair tower of the Paulskirche since 1964. The statue created by the sculptor Hans Wimmer stands on a pedestal that bears the names of the National Socialist concentration camps . A memorial plaque for the local politician Johanna Kirchner was placed next to the monument .

On the southwest side of the church there are more memorial plaques for Carl Schurz and for the President of the National Assembly Heinrich von Gagern . Since 2002, on the occasion of his 100th birthday, the west side of the tower has had a plaque for the first freely elected Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, Walter Kolb .


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Web links

Commons : Paulskirche (Frankfurt)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. What will happen to the Paulskirche ? , Benedikt Erenz in: The time . October 11, 2017.
  2. Achilles August von Lersner, Florian Gebhard: The far-famous Freyen imperial, electoral and trading city of Franckfurt on Mayn Chronica […]. Second book, chap. XVII , p. 60, Franckfurt am Mayn 1706 ( online , PDF 27507 kB)
  3. ^ Sigfrid Grän: Frankfurt am Main. Franciscan Conventuals. In: Alemania Franciscana Antiqua. Volume VI, Ulm 1960, pp. 120-179, here pp. 138-141.143f.
  4. ^ Sigfrid Grän: Frankfurt am Main. Franciscan Conventuals. In: Alemania Franciscana Antiqua. Volume VI, Ulm 1960, pp. 120-179, here pp. 149f.
  5. ^ Hermann Dechent : Church history of Frankfurt am Main since the Reformation. Volume I , Kesselringsche Hofbuchhandlung, Leipzig and Frankfurt 1913, p. 126
  6. Hermann Dechent: I still saw them, the old days. In: Jürgen Telschow (Hrsg.): Contributions to Frankfurt church history (= series of publications of the Protestant regional association no. 11). Ev. Regionalverb., Frankfurt 1985, p. 209.
  7. ^ Jürgen Telschow (Ed.): Contributions to Frankfurt Church History , p. 212f.
  8. Hans Magenschab: Archduke Johann - Habsburgs green rebel. 3. Edition. Styria, Graz 1982, p. 352
  9. cit. after Wolfgang Wippermann: Life in Frankfurt during the Nazi era. Vol. 4. The Resistance. Frankfurt am Main 1986, p. 36.
  10. For the history of the Friedrich Ebert monument at the Paulskirche see also: Frankfurt 1933–1945. Documentation by the Institute for Urban History
  11. a b Georg Struckmeier: On the death of the Paulskirche. In: Frankfurter Kirchliches Jahrbuch 1955 , p. 136ff.
  12. ^ Mathias Alexander: What makes the reconstruction of the Paulskirche difficult . August 19, 2019, ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed September 15, 2019]).
  13. Hans Riebsamen: Symbol of Democracy: Paulskirche should become a place of learning . July 4, 2019, ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed September 15, 2019]).
  14. ^ Frank-Walter Steinmeier: German and free. In: time online. March 13, 2019, accessed September 15, 2019 .
  15. Klaus Müller: The Paulskirche - a “national renovation case”? Against forgetting - For Democracy eV, membership magazine, issue 98/2018, p. 10
  16. a b c Benedikt Erenz: What will happen to the Paulskirche? In: time online. October 12, 2017, accessed September 15, 2019 .
  17. ^ Mathias Alexander: Criticism of the Citizens' Dialogue: "Paulskirche is an expression of a successful democracy" . August 31, 2019, ISSN  0174-4909 ( [accessed September 15, 2019]).
  19. ^ Carl Wolff , Rudolf Jung : The architectural monuments in Frankfurt am Main. Bd. I. Church buildings. Frankfurt am Main 1896, p. 277 ( online , PDF 50273 kB)
  20. Wolff, Jung: Baudenkmäler Vol. I., p. 279.
  21. Marc Schaefer (Ed.): The Silbermann Archive. The handwritten estate of the organ maker Johann Andreas Silbermann (1712–1783) . Amadeus Verlag, Winterthur 1994. ISBN 3-905049-39-2
  22. ^ Franz Bösken : Sources and research on the organ history of the Middle Rhine. Vol. 2: The area of ​​the former administrative district of Wiesbaden . Part 1 (A – K). Schott, Mainz 1975, ISBN 3-7957-1307-2 , p. 203 (Contributions to the Middle Rhine Music History 7.1).
  23. Willibald Gurlitt: The Frankfurter Paulskirchen-Orgel from 1827. In: Frankfurter Zeitung of January 7, 1940. , seen on April 14, 2020.
  24. ^ Franz Bösken: Sources and research on the organ history of the Middle Rhine. Vol. 2: The area of ​​the former administrative district of Wiesbaden . Part 1 (A – K). Schott, Mainz 1975, ISBN 3-7957-1307-2 , p. 309 (Contributions to the Middle Rhine Music History 7.1).
  25. , viewed on April 14, 2020
  26. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of March 15, 2004: Paulskirchen-Orgel. Like a queen in an anechoic chamber , seen Jan 8, 2013.
  27. ^ Franz Bösken: Sources and research on the organ history of the Middle Rhine. Vol. 2: The area of ​​the former administrative district of Wiesbaden . Part 1 (A – K). Schott, Mainz 1975, ISBN 3-7957-1307-2 , p. 313 (Contributions to the Middle Rhine Music History 7.1).
  28. Information on the organ (PDF; 887 kB), viewed January 8, 2013.
  29. ↑ The bell in the Paulskirche crashed
  30. ^ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of April 16, 1998
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on February 28, 2006 in this version .

Coordinates: 50 ° 6 ′ 40 ″  N , 8 ° 40 ′ 51 ″  E