Memorial Church of the Protestation (Speyer)

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Memorial Church in 1904
Memorial Church from the southeast
inside view

The Memorial Church of protest in Speyer was in the years 1893 to 1904 in memory of the in 1529 at the Diet of Speyer was made protestation of Speyer built. At 100 m, its tower is the highest church tower in the Palatinate and the highest German church tower west of the Rhine between Cologne and Strasbourg .

Reason to commemorate: the 1529 protest

Play of colors inside

At the Diet of Speyer in 1529 , the princes who adhered to Luther's doctrine did not want to accept the fact that a vote should be used to decide on religious affiliation. They expressed their resistance in the Protestation in Speyer, hence the term Protestant . This event led to the separation of the Christian denominations into Catholic and Protestant .

The idea of ​​building a church

In the late 19th century, the time of the Kulturkampf , relations were Protestants and Catholics as a result of the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility and the Pope primacy on the first Vatican Council stressed. These disputes also had an impact on church building. The Memorial Church was to become a major church for all of Protestant Christianity, a goal that was far too high. The Gedächtniskirche is hardly known in Germany and even less abroad. Opinions were also not unanimous among the Protestants, which is why more than 35 years passed between the first idea and the laying of the foundation stone for the Memorial Church, with some heated discussions.

The construction of the Memorial Church was a reaction to the structural renovation and painting of the Speyer Cathedral by Johann von Schraudolph in the years 1846 to 1856. Originally the Trinity Church was to be renovated not far from the Cathedral , but then the decision was made to replace it from the Baroque period original church to start a new building.

Place of construction, architectural style, architects

First, the planned Reformation Church on Retscher , the ruins of an aristocratic palace of the Retschelin family next to the Trinity Church , was to be built. It was believed that the Diet of 1529 took place here. To build the so-called Retscher Church, a building association was founded, which, with the approval of the Bavarian King Maximilian II, went public with an appeal for donations in 1857. However, the donations were initially quite small, because the Protestants had to finance the Luther monument in Worms at the same time, which was unveiled in 1868 in the presence of the Prussian King and later Emperor Wilhelm I and Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm (later Emperor Friedrich III ). At this event, the Speyer community made first contacts with the Prussian royal house, which would later be of considerable importance.

After it became clear that the Imperial Assembly of 1529 had not met in the so-called Retscher , the new building project was no longer tied to the old town. In 1883 the construction site of today's church was determined by the Association for the Building of the Memorial Church of the Protestation of 1529 . In addition, the proclamation of the dogma of papal infallibility in 1870 and the establishment of the German Empire under a Protestant emperor in 1871 gave the project new impetus.

The Protestation Church should not be behind the cathedral. Therefore, a design had to be found that was completely different from the Romanesque cathedral. 45 designs by architects from all over the German Empire were submitted for the architecture competition. The five designs that were shortlisted all propagated the neo-Gothic architectural style. In connection with the advertised competitions, the winners in November 1884 were the architectural communities of Julius Flügge and Carl Nordmann in Essen and the joint work of Johannes Vollmer and Fernando Lorenzen with the second prize.

Financing and Architecture

When the funds for the construction were not yet collected in 1890, the building association turned to the Protestant Kaiser Wilhelm II , who promised to see to it that the church was completed. The foundation stone was laid on August 24, 1893. After eleven years of construction, the Memorial Church was consecrated on August 31, 1904.

The Gedächtniskirche represents the doctrinal neo-Gothic . It uses relatively pure historical forms and borrows its formal vocabulary from Gothic cathedrals. The main models for the Memorial Church were the Viennese neo-Gothic churches . Particularly noteworthy is the Vienna Votive Church , which was built between 1856 and 1879 .


  • Total length of church and tower: 72 m
  • Total length of the interior of the church: 51 m
  • Width in the nave: 24 m
  • Width in the transept: 45 m
  • Roof ridge height: 35 m, with roof turret 57 m
  • Covered area (inside): 1200 m²
  • Vault height in the central nave: 22 m, in the crossing: 24 m, in the side aisles: 20 m
  • Tower height: 100 m


The Memorial Church is located in the southwest of the city of Speyer outside the old city wall in front of the former Landau Gate, where a new suburb with residential buildings in the Wilhelminian style was built in the 19th century . The building is free like the Speyer Cathedral in the east of the city.

Building materials and design

Building material

Particular care was taken in the selection of the building blocks. Various quarries were examined. The Weidenthaler red sandstone used for the base could not be used for the further construction, as it was too interspersed with pebbles and was not suitable for sculpting work. In addition, it was feared that the red stone will darken due to weather conditions soon, while the selected white-gray Vosges - sandstone retain its light color and would only slightly affect patinated. The stones from Lauterecken could not be used because the layers there were too low and no large blocks could be hewn from them. A total of 6622 cubic meters of rubble were delivered, along with 1935 cubic meters of bricks.

A slate roof was not used for the roofing, as it requires frequent repairs. Instead, the roof was covered with glazed tiles that were fixed with copper wire.

The Memorial Church is a three-aisled, vaulted hall over the plan of a Latin cross. The vaults are made of artificial tuff stone because of their lower weight. In front of the short nave is the mighty 100 m high bell tower, the highest church tower in the Palatinate since 1904, and the memorial hall on its ground floor. The tower is 57 m high up to the helmet, the tower helmet measures another 43 m.

The facades have no fixed contour. It is dominated by the split-up form in the High Gothic style , which does not leave any larger areas standing, but instead surrounds the entire structure in an alternation of buttresses and window walls. The roofs are covered with different colored glazed tiles that form a small diamond pattern.

Here I stand ...

Memorial Hall

Luther monument

The memorial hall is located on the ground floor of the tower. Like the tower, this has a hexagonal floor plan. The layout of the memorial hall in front of the main entrance was deliberately chosen. There was no other place where the witnesses of the protest, whose statues were not allowed to be placed inside the church, could be shown better to the churchgoer.

In the middle of the memorial hall stands the bronze statue of Martin Luther , a foundation of the German-American Lutherans , on a plinth made of Swedish granite . Luther holds the open Bible in his left hand and clenches his right hand into a fist; with his right foot he crushes the papal excommunicating bull . The inscription embedded in the floor ( Here I stand, I can't help it, God help me. Amen! ) Makes it clear that Luther's appearance before the Diet of Worms in 1521 is being commemorated here.

The statues of the princes who protested on April 19, 1529 at the Speyer Reichstag, created by Max Baumbach , are housed on six pedestals :

1 Elector Johann the Steadfast of Saxony
2 Duke Ernst of Braunschweig-Lüneburg
3 Duke Franz of Braunschweig-Lüneburg
4 Prince Wolfgang von Anhalt
5 Margrave Georg of Brandenburg-Ansbach
6 Landgrave Philipp of Hesse

The coats of arms of the signatories are located at the intersections of the vault ribs . The coats of arms of the fourteen imperial cities that joined the Speyer protestation ( Heilbronn , Isny , Kempten , Konstanz , Lindau , Memmingen , Nördlingen , Nuremberg , Reutlingen , St. Gallen , Strasbourg , Ulm , Weißenburg , Windsheim ) hang in the arches of the side portals .

Main portal

The two-part main portal shows the sandstone figure of King David with the harp on the central post , who greets the church visitors with a psalm on a text scroll and also draws attention to the special importance of music in the Protestant churches:

"The Lord protect your exit and Entrance from now to eternity ” Psalm 121.8

On the inside of the portal there is an angel with an open book, which is supposed to remind the churchgoers who go out of the keeping of God's word:

“Blessed are those who hear God's word and preserve "

inner space

The interior of the church is a hall with cross-ribbed vaults in all parts, which tends towards the central area. The two-storey elevation of the interior is due to the gallery , which almost completely surrounds the room and is only missing in the apse . Floor plans with a short nave and a gallery as a gallery are widespread in Protestant church construction and can be explained with the special purpose of the church as a sermon room. Therefore, large naves were avoided for acoustic reasons and space was created for a larger audience with galleries.

The interior of the church differs from a medieval cathedral in that it does not have any plastering or painting. Cubes, pillars, walls, vault ribs and tracery are also left visible; all colors are reserved for glass painting .


The 36 stained glass windows

As with Gothic cathedrals, the colored window walls are an elementary part of the building, about the importance of which they provide information. The windows come from nine well-known studios in different cities of the former German Empire. All 36 windows are created in the style of historicism.

The high windows in the apse , which Karl de Bouché created, donated the last German imperial couple, Wilhelm II. And his wife Auguste Viktoria . For this reason the chancel is also called the Kaiser Choir. The seven angel heads in the three central windows are portraits of the imperial children. Wilhelm II therefore said of this depiction of his children:

"There used to be seven little boys, today it's little angels."
Window on the first floor

Window on the first floor

Window in the mezzanine
  1. The deathbed of a Christian woman is symbolic of the basic virtue of hope and corresponds to the depiction of the martyr Stephen on the right.
  2. The sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham is symbolic of the basic virtue of faith. This window corresponds to the representation of the captain of Capernaum on the right side .
  3. The activity of deaconesses symbolizes the basic virtue of love and diaconal work. This window corresponds to the representation of Mary Magdalene and Martha entertaining Jesus on the right .
  4. Burial of Jesus
  5. The depiction of the protesting Speyer with Johann von Sachsen and Jakob Sturm von Sturmeck recalls the protestation at Speyer in 1529, the actual reason for the construction of the Memorial Church.
  6. The depiction of the defiant Worms with Georg von Frundsberg and the Landgrave Philipp von Hessen is reminiscent of Martin Luther's appearance before the Diet of Worms in 1521.
  7. Pentecost
  8. The representation of the twelve-year-old Jesus in the temple is related to the learning of Melanchthon in the adjacent window.
  9. The depiction of the confessing Augsburg with the spokesman Philipp Melanchthon and the Chancellor Christian Beyer recalls the Confessio Augustana of 1530 and its reading out by Christian Beyer.
  10. The depiction of the mourning Magdeburg with the Swedish King Gustav Adolf and the Magdeburg cathedral preacher Reinhardt Bake recalls the destruction of the city of Magdeburg in the Thirty Years' War by Tilly .
  11. Jesus heals the sick at the pool Bethesda is one of Jesus' healing miracles.

The first three side windows after the main portal symbolize faith, hope and love , the basic values ​​of Christianity:

  • Jesus with Mary Magdalene and Martha is an example of charity.
  • The Roman captain of Capernaum is an example of strength of faith.
  • The stoning of Stephen commemorates the first Christian martyr.

Window in the tower hall

The large windows above the three portals show Luther in the middle and supporters of the Reformation in the two side windows .

  1. Duke Ludwig II of Pfalz-Zweibrücken and Elector Ottheinrich of the Palatinate . As a young man, Duke Ludwig II of Pfalz-Zweibrücken took part in the Worms Diet of 1521 and supported Lutheran teaching. He contributed to the Marburg Religious Discussion in 1529 . Elector Ottheinrich maintained contact with Philipp Melanchthon and ensured that the Reformation continued in Heidelberg and the Electoral Palatinate .
  2. Luther burns the Pope's bull of excommunication in 1520 . Pope Leo X issued the bull threatening exsurge domine in 1520 , in which he accused Luther of heresy . Luther refused to withdraw his consent and, as a counter-reaction to the burning of his writings, burned the books of his opponents, volumes of Canon Law and the bull threatening the ban. With this public cremation, the break with the Roman Church was sealed.
  3. Elector Friedrich the Wise of Saxony and Franz von Sickingen . Friedrich the Wise was not only the sovereign and patron of Luther, but also the founder of Wittenberg University. Franz von Sickingen was the leader of the German Imperial Knights and a friend of Ulrich von Hutten . He himself described his knightly revolt against the Archbishop of Trier as a "campaign for Christ's honor against the enemies of evangelical truth".

Window in the mezzanine

Right transept rose, the so-called mission window (diameter: 10 meters)
Left transept rose, the so-called martyr window

The first three large windows on the left represent three vocations:

  1. Calling the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah is believed to be the first to expect a Messiah .)
  2. Calling the Apostle Paul (Paul changed from persecuting Christians to followers of Christ through the Damascus experience.)
  3. Wilhelm Farel calls Johannes Calvin to Geneva . Farel's calling in 1536 is equated here with the calling of Isaiah in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament.
  4. The crucifixion of Jesus is depicted on the Good Friday window. This representation of the Passion story corresponds to the representation of the Christmas events on the opposite side of the church.
  5. Left transept Rose: martyrs window (focus on events in church history: At the northern end of the transept, the martyrs window is a white cross in the center, consisting of the self-designed arms Luther, called the Luther Rose will be taken from men and women, young and old with. Armed force expelled because of their faith. Clergymen in gowns with raised communion chalice and Bible walk ahead. In the center of the mission window, around the Luther rose, is the biblical saying "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice.")
  6. The Easter window shows the image of Easter morning when the women stand at the empty tomb of Jesus and see the angel.
  7. The baptismal window is above the baptismal font and shows Jesus blessing the children.
  8. The reformers Melanchthon and Luther shake hands, a sign that they have met personally.
  9. The depiction of the apostle Paul is linked to Albrecht Dürer's painting Four Apostles and the apostle windows of the Augsburg and Regensburg cathedral .
  10. Risen and blessing Christ
  11. Originally, the apostle Simon Peter was intended to replace the apostle John (parallel to Paul ) . But with regard to the Catholic Church, which traces the Pope back to Peter, this was not done.
  12. The reformers Ulrich Zwingli and Johannes Calvin do not shake hands , a sign that they never met.
  13. The Last Supper window does not refer to the Last Supper , but shows Elector Joachim II of Brandenburg and his wife enjoying the sacrament of the altar under both forms for the first time (Berlin 1539).
  14. The Christmas window shows the angel's announcement to the shepherds.
  15. Right transept rose: The mission window focuses on events from the Bible: the Christ child stands in the center of the mission window. On the outer petals there are portraits of the 12 disciples of Jesus and of the apostle Paul . Closest to the apostle Paul are the four symbols (angel, lion, bull and eagle) for the four evangelists .
  16. The Maundy Thursday window shows Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane . He prays: “My father, if it is possible, this cup will pass me by; but not as I want, but as you want! "

The large windows above the gallery show on the right side three events with which the guidelines of the Christian life were proclaimed to the people:

  1. The Reformation window shows Luther's posting of the theses in Wittenberg in 1517 and is related to other heralds of the “will of God”, Jesus and Moses.
  2. The form of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount with the famous Beatitudes (5: 3–12) follows the tradition of wisdom literature ("Good for him who ..."). However, its content turns everyday standards of happiness upside down and links them to spiritual poverty, grief, meekness, justice, mercy, pacifism and willingness to suffer.
  3. Moses receives the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai . The Ten Commandments have a fundamental meaning in Judaism and Christianity.


The altar

The altar of the Memorial Church was initially erected in accordance with local Protestant tradition as a simple table-shaped altar created by the Stuttgart stonemason company Erfort und Wüst. In 1908 the altarpiece was added, which follows Gothic models. A statue of the “teaching Christ” by the Wiesbaden sculptor Feihl stands in front of the central gold mosaic area.


Pedestal of the lectern

The lectern at the altar is more recent. It is the work of the Palatinate sculptor Gernot Rumpf , who, as in other places, shows his humor and brings Palatinate legends to the church. It represents a net and alludes to Jesus' Bible verse to Peter: "From now on you shall catch people."

A net hangs on the lectern, in which fish in the form of the Palatine legendary figures, the Elwetritschen , are caught.

The big fish with the book open is Martin Luther , the fish with the pigtails next to him is his wife Katharina von Bora .


Pulpit (detail)

The pulpit is distinguished by a rich structure with different materials. Four bronze reliefs depicting the birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are set in the pulpit. The oak pulpit cover shows a rich structure in the manner of a Gothic tabernacle . It was felt to be cluttered soon after the church was dedicated, but it has not been removed or simplified.

Different colored types of marble were chosen for the base of the pulpit :

yellow and white marble for the base
red and white marble for the central round pillar
greenish marble for the slimmer columns
light gray Vosges sandstone for stairs, stair parapets and pulpit cage

The pulpit was donated by the US railroad magnate John Pierpont Morgan , and the crossing columns are a gift from William Ziegler, also from New York.


The oak benches show decorative forms on the cheeks that also occur in the building, as well as the coats of arms and names of the donors. The stalls have a total of 1,800 seats.


View to the organ gallery
Organ pedal

The original organ no longer exists. The organ with 65 sounding stops , distributed over four manuals and a pedal , was sacrificed to the organ renovation in 1938/39, which was started by the Stuttgart organ building company CF Weigle in 1900 and completed by the Öttingen company Steinmeyer in 1902 . Today's organ from 1979 by the Detlef Kleuker organ building workshop in Bielefeld is the largest organ in south-west Germany with 95 registers. The brochure , which completely dispenses with decorations and framing, dates back to 1939 and was designed by the Munich sculptor Hans Miller.

I main work C – c 4
01. Praestant 16 ′
02. Hollow pipe 16 ′
03. Principal 08th'
04th octave 08th'
05. Wooden flute 08th'
06th Viola da gamba 0 08th'
07th Fifth 05 13
08th. octave 04 ′
09. Wide principal 04 ′
10. recorder 04 ′
11. Fifth 02 23
12. Super octave 02 ′
13. Mixture IV 02 ′
14th Sharp V 023
15th Zimbel III 014
16. Trumpet 16 ′
17th Trumpet 08th'
18th Clairon 04 ′
II substation C – c 4
19th Principal 08th'
20th Copula 08th'
21st octave 04 ′
22nd Reed flute 04 ′
23. Quintad 04 ′
24. octave 02 ′
25th Forest flute 02 ′
26th Larigot 01 13
27. Night horn 01'
28. Mixture IV 01 13
29 Zimbel III 012
30th Sesquialter II 0 02 23
31. Carillon III
32. Rankett 16 ′
33. Krummhorn 08th'
34. Harp shelf 08th'
III Swell C – c 4
35. Bourdon 16 ′
36. Principal 08th'
37. Flûte harmonique 08th'
38. Wooden dacked 08th'
39. Salicional 08th'
40. Violin beat 0 08th'
41. octave 04 ′
42. Flûte traversière 04 ′
43. Black viola 04 ′
44. Nazard 02 23
45. Duplicate 02 ′
46. Gemshorn 02 ′
47. Tierce 01 35
48. Septième 01 17
49. Fittings III 02 23
50. Mixture V 01 13
51. Glockenzimbel III 013
52. Basson 16 ′
53. Trumpet harm. 08th'
54. Hautbois 08th'
55. Clairon 04 ′
IV Kronwerk C – c 4
56. Coarse 00000000 08th'
57. Quintad 08th'
58. Principal 04 ′
59. Coupling flute 04 ′
60. Flat flute 02 ′
61. Sharp V 01'
62. Terzian II
63. Wooden dulcian 16 ′
64. Vox humana 0 08th'
65. shawm 04 ′

V Bombardenwerk C – c 4
66. Bourdon 08th'
67. Flute 04 ′
68. Cornet V 08th'
69. Plein Jeu VIII 02 ′
70. Bombarde en chamade 16 ′
71. Trumpet en chamade 08th'
72. Trumpets 08th'
73. Clairon 04 ′
Pedal C – g 1
74. Principal 00 32 ′
75. Principal 16 ′
76. Sub bass 16 ′
77. Dumped 16 ′
78. Violon 16 ′
79. Fifth 10 23
(Continued pedal)
80. Octave bass 00 08th'
81. Bass flute 08th'
82. Viol 08th'
83. Choral bass 04 ′
84. Quintadena 04 ′
(Continued pedal)
85. recorder 02 ′
86. Pipe whistle 01'
87. Mixture 1 IV 04 ′
88 Mixture 2 IV 02 ′
89. Basszink IV 00 05 13
(Continued pedal)
90. Bombard 32 ′
91. trombone 16 ′
92. bassoon 16 ′
93. Trumpet 08th'
94. Lure 04 ′
95. Singing shelf 00 02 ′
  • Coupling : II / I, III / I, IV / I, V / I, III / II, IV / II, V / II, V / IV, I / P, II / P, III / P, IV / P, V / P
  • Playing aids : Fixed combinations (tutti, roller / roller down, storage for 16 '/ 32' tongues: general and individual), 16-fold setting system ,


Of the original bells that Franz Schilling had cast in Apolda , the imperial bell (f 0 , 9,130 ​​kilograms), cast on February 14, 1900 and donated by Kaiser Wilhelm II, was destroyed in 1942 in the Hamburg bell cemetery. Next to the portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm I, it bore the inscription “What a turning point through God's providence!” - an (alleged) saying of the Kaiser during the Battle of Sedan . The four remaining bells cast in 1903, the Gustav Adolf bell (as 0 , 4,660 kilograms), Martin Luther bell (b 0 , 3,298 kilograms), the Bavarian bell (c 1 , 2,800 kilograms) and the Evangelical workers' association bell (es 1 , 1,250 kg) Kilograms) returned after the end of the war, but according to the judgment of the bell experts they were of such poor quality that in 1959 a completely new bell was commissioned from the Karlsruhe bell foundry Bachert . This was also coordinated with neighboring bells. The bells purchased from donations bear the names of well-known reformers and their employees, as well as the Swedish king Gustav Adolf, who has earned Lutheranism .

The clock strike was modeled on the Westminster strike of Big Ben .

No. Surname Casting year Foundry, casting location Diameter
( HT - 1 / 16 )
1 Martin Luther 1959 Bachert bell foundry, Karlsruhe 2333 7450 f 0 +1
2 John Calvin 1957 4452 as 0 +3
3 Huldrych Zwingli 1595 2530 c 1 +2
4th Gustav Adolf 1331 1578 it 1 +5
5 Philipp Melanchton 1162 1106 f 1 +4
6th Martin Butzer 1006 729 as 1 +7
7th Zacharias Ursinus 934 627 b 1 +6
8th Johannes Bader 835 443 c 2 +5


Altar and imperial choir
  • 1857: Establishment of the Retscher Association, the first building association, with the aim of building a church to commemorate the solemn protest of the Protestant minority at the Reichstag in 1529. Since it was assumed at the time that the Reichstag had taken place in the patrician house of the Retschelinus family called Retscher, the Retscher Church was to be built there behind the Trinity Church. Even today, many long-established Speyer residents refer to the memorial church as the Retscherkirche .
  • 1882: The association changes its name to Association for the Building of the Memorial Church of the Protestation of 1529
  • 1883: Determination of the building site and tender for architects
  • 1884: The Essen architects Nordmann and Flügge are selected from 48 designs.
  • 1891: First groundbreaking in the presence of the first major donor Heinrich Hilgard
  • August 24, 1893: laying of the foundation stone in the area of ​​today's pulpit
  • 1900 Completion of the shell of the church and tower
  • August 31, 1904: Inauguration of the church in four services
  • 1929: The commemoration of the 400th anniversary of the Reichstag and the building of the church attract over 100,000 visitors.
  • 1961–1969: Repair of the nave by cleaning and impregnating the stones, some stone replacement.
  • 1973–1977: Repair of the tower by cleaning and impregnating the stones, some stones being replaced.
  • 1991–1997: Severe damage to the north gable with falling rocks leads to its scaffolding, which is followed by the scaffolding of the tower helmet to record damage and secure it.
  • 28-29 April 1998: Colloquium with all important master builders from cathedrals and miners from Cologne to Strasbourg, from Freiburg to Ulm and experts from universities on the renovation concept under the leadership of Oberkirchenrat Zeitler to obtain a comprehensive and long-term effective renovation concept.
  • 1998: Renovation based on planning on a sample axis of the tower, documentation and examination of the results. At the same time the second building association was founded.
  • 1999–2009: Thorough complete renovation based on the found and tested concept by the Mannheim company Hanbuch.
    • 1998–2001: Renovation of the tower helmet: costs € 2,217,842.30
    • 2000–2002: Renovation of the central section of the tower: costs 1,895,414.73 €
    • 2003–2004: Renovation of the tower base, memorial hall and front side turrets: costs 1,733,058.55
    • 2004–2009: Renovation of the transept: costs € 3,143,056.21
    • 2005–2009: Renovation of the nave: costs € 517,439.07
    • 2007–2009: renovation of the east end: costs € 2,147,399.55


The enthusiasm for the building of the Memorial Church was not only shared among Protestants.

Aerial view of the Memorial Church of the Protestation in Speyer (left); to the right behind the St. Josephs Church, which was built as a reaction to the Memorial Church.

The Joseph Church

Memorial Church and Joseph church from the old gate of

The Catholics could not make friends with the "Protestant Cathedral" either. When the Association for the Building of the Memorial Church acquired its building site on what was then the outskirts of the city, the Catholics tried to find a building site in the immediate vicinity. And so in 1887 a Catholic church building association was founded. In 1912 the foundation stone was laid in the immediate vicinity of the Memorial Church and in 1914 the church was consecrated to the patron saint of the Electoral Palatinate and the patron saint of workers, Saint Joseph . According to the Chronicle of Joseph's Church, it was understood as a “symbol of love for the Bavarian homeland and loyalty to the Bavarian royal family”.

Regarding the architectural styles of St. Joseph and the Memorial Church, it says: "Catholic diversity versus Protestant austerity". The Mainz cathedral master builder Ludwig Becker designed the plan with forms of Art Nouveau , Late Gothic , Baroque and Renaissance styles . The Josephskirche was supposed to be very different from the style of the Speyer Cathedral and the Memorial Church .

Kaiser Wilhelm II.

Historical interior view

One of the key sponsors of the building was the Prussian royal house. The five large windows of the choir polygon are also known as the imperial choir due to the foundations of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife Empress Auguste Viktoria . Wilhelm II preferred the Romanesque style because of the French origin of the Gothic . The emperor was used as a "promotional factor". In connection with this promotion, there were also “hateful, hostile statements” from the Catholic side.

This was also the main reason why the emperor did not come to the inauguration ceremony in 1904:

There was a further disagreement at the festival because Kaiser Wilhelm II, as a Protestant prince, ostensibly for reasons of 'court etiquette', in reality in order not to offend the Catholic Church and the Center Party, did not accept the invitation and through it Behavior also prevented other evangelical princes from doing so. "

Kaiser Wilhelm was represented at the inauguration by Prince Otto zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg and only saw the church he sponsored during a visit to the city of Speyer in 1917.

Karl Barth

In the 1950s there were plans to completely replace the church windows, which no longer corresponded to contemporary tastes. Symptomatic of the criticism is the statement attributed - probably wrongly - to the Swiss theologian Karl Barth who, on the occasion of a tour of the Memorial Church, instead of - as expected - expressing his enthusiasm for the Memorial Church, is said to have said that “probably a bomb during war too little fell in Speyer ”.

Situation today

100 years of the Memorial Church

The Memorial Church is the main church of the Evangelical Church of the Palatinate , whose head office is located in the immediate vicinity of the Speyer Cathedral . For the centenary in 2004, the Memorial Church was renovated at great expense. This caused some resentment among the members of the Palatinate regional church, as the congregations had to restrict their construction activities as part of a strict austerity policy.

The first person to be baptized in 1904 in the just inaugurated Memorial Church was Mrs. Gertrud Cantzler, who celebrated her 100th birthday in 2004 together with her baptismal church. She died at the age of 104 on the night of April 26th, 2009. On this Sunday, the completion of the 12-year renovation phase of the Memorial Church was celebrated with a festive service.


  • L. Gümbel: The memorial church of the protestation of 1529 in Speyer, a thank you monument of the entire evangelical world. Festschrift for the happy day of consecration . Speyer August 31, 1904
  • Herbert Dellwing : The Memorial Church in Speyer and its restoration . In: Preservation of monuments in Rhineland-Palatinate, annual reports 1974/75, pp. 117–130
  • Herbert Dellwing: The Memorial Church of the Protestation, a memorial and its creation . In: Der Turmhahn, 23, 1979, Issue 1-4. - Catalog of the exhibition 450 Years of Protestation in Speyer 1529-1979, Speyer 1979
  • The Rheinpfalz : Despised and revered - Speyer's Memorial Church . August 26, 1994
  • Ludwig Wien: The emperor prophesied her an expensive old age . in: Evangelischer Kirchenbote Speyer, April 22, 1979
  • Leonhard Rabus: The Retscherkirche at Speier. To erect a memorial by the Protestants of all countries in grateful remembrance of the faithful commitment to the work of the Reformation at the Reichstag in 1529 . Memorandum to the Protestant co-religionists on behalf of the Committee of the Retscher Association. Speyer 1876
  • The Memorial Church in Speyer a. Rhine . In: Zentralblatt der Bauverwaltung . Volume 24 (1904), No. 71 (September 3, 1904), urn : nbn: de: kobv: 109-opus-37834 , pp. 441–443, addendum on p. 472. (With illustrations and floor plans)

Web links

Commons : Gedächtniskirche Speyer  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Zwei Sieger , in the Centralblatt der Bauverwaltung , No. 47, November 22, 1884, p. 490, accessed on January 3, 2013.
  2. The equipment. Bauverein Gedächtniskirche Speyer eV, 2015, accessed on October 12, 2017 .
  3. Disposition of the organ
  4. Theo Fehn : The bell expert. About the reconstruction of the German bell system from the point of view of Theo Fehn. Badenia, Karlsruhe 1991, Vol. 1, pp. 34-35, ISBN 3-7617-0284-1 .
  5. For the entire section Chronicle: Evangelical Church of the Palatinate : Protestant, Palatine, profiled , prospectus with invitation to the feast at the end of the renovation work 23.- April 26th 2009, there Sections History of the Memorial Church and the restoration of the Memorial Church and Memorial Church in Speyer. Renovation of the sandstone facade. Construction stages , third from last page
  6. Quoted from Raubenheimer: Fifty Years of the Gedächtniskirche . 1954
  7. One bomb fell short. (No longer available online.) Pfälzisches Pfarrerblatt / Klaus Bümlein , archived from the original on September 24, 2015 ; accessed on August 31, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /

Coordinates: 49 ° 18 ′ 53.3 "  N , 8 ° 25 ′ 47.8"  E

This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on January 28, 2006 .