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Repairing Berlin’s “broken tooth” church

As all Berliners know, you should never give up on a cracked or broken tooth. This holds true whether the tooth in question is one that can be repaired by an emergency dentist — or by an architect.

Standing in the heart of the former West Berlin is a 223-foot-tall jagged tower that is nicknamed the “broken tooth.” Built in 1895 as a memorial to Kaiser Wilhelm I, the first emperor of a united Germany, the Gedächtniskirche church was originally a symbol of German imperial power.

In 1943, the neo-gothic stone structure was so severely damaged in World War II bombing raids that it was nearly demolished, but Berliners fought to preserve the ruins. The damaged spire now stands as a symbol of the cost of war, and of a humbled, peaceful Germany.

In 2007, the “broken tooth” once again faced the prospect of extraction. Heavy traffic along the Kurfürstendamm, a major shopping street, was damaging its foundation. Water was seeping into the tower and then freezing in the winter and cracking the stone. The church’s board of directors estimated that 4 million Euros were needed for repair, but it had trouble raising this amount because of the European credit crunch.

As of 2012, the “broken tooth” was still covered by scaffolding as it receives much-needed emergency dental treatment, but it remains a popular tourist landmark.

Clayton McCleskey. “Ruins of Berlin church maintained as memorial.” April 21, 2011.
Jess Smee. “Crunch time for Berlin’s Hollow Tooth.” September 15, 2008.
David Milliken. “Berlin’s Broken Tooth church needs cash for repair.” August 12, 2008.