Elements of our peace work
The Frauenkirche wants to promote paths towards peace and reconciliation and encourages everybody to dare walk on them. Our ideas and offers are as diverse as the people who come to visit the Frauenkirche: There are single events that focus on peace issues, there are series of lectures or homilies. The people who work for the church - members of staff and volunteers - pass on the peace message as does the building itself by its history of destruction and reconstruction.
Prayer of reconciliation
Since 2005 the Frauenkirche has been a member of the international Community of the Cross of Nails making it one out of four centres in Dresden, 59 in the whole of Germany and more than 160 worldwide. All of these centres share a common commitment to work and pray for peace, justice, and reconciliation.
The Frauenkirche is engaged in a lively dialogue with Coventry Cathedral and its Canon for Reconciliation Ministry. One sign of this partnership is a speacial prayer that is being prayed every Friday during the devotion at noon: the Coventry Litany of Reconciliation. This prayer links all Nail Cross centres and invites people to think about the importance but also the fragility of peace.
A special concern of the Frauenkirche is peace and reconciliation work. Important representatives of public life and science are invited to discuss questions of peace several times during the year in order to outline paths to a culture of peace. As part of this offering, the concept of peace is broadly conceived so that it covers questions of individual, societal and global peace.
The forum, which is organised primarily around lecture events, offers the possibility of inter-disciplinary dialog and is intended to facilitate tolerance and understanding. The Science Forum events take place in cooperation with the Technical University of Dresden and the Chancellery of the Free State of Saxony.
Lecture theme in 2014: Europe at te crossroads - An idea put to the test.
(All lectures are given in German. For more information click here.)
Remembering 13 February, living in reconciliation
At the heart of the city the Frauenkirche is a symbol reminding us to remember the true story and to live in reconciliation. On 13 February 1945 Allied bombers destroyed the entire city centre. Two days later the burnt-out Frauenkirche collapsed.
Today, the rebuilt place of worship is a symbol both of the terror of war and of overcoming that terror. Every year on 13 February people gather in front of and inside the Frauenkirche to commemorate the destruction of Dresden. In 2008 Dr Christof Ziemer, an honorary citizen of Dresden and a former Protestant superintendant, held a moving commemorative speech on Neumarkt square. In the two years since, the former federal ministers Dr Hans-Jochen Vogel and Gerhart Baum have called for peaceful co-existence and adjured listeners to treat the day with respect. Every year, lighting is used to project the image of a burning candle onto the exterior of the Frauenkirche, and the cross on the tower is lit up. The candle-light is a ray of hope and can be found in various spots in and around the Frauenkirche on 13 February, conveying its message of peace on earth. The Society to Support the Frauenkirche, Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Frauenkirche Dresden, gives everyone the opportunity to light candles on Neumarkt market in the afternoon and spend a moment in silent commemoration. In the late evening visitors are invited to the candle-lit “Night of Silence” in the Frauenkirche, with music and short, thought-provoking texts on the subject of Peace.
In 2010, on the 65th anniversary of Dresden’s destruction, the artist Einhart Grotegut set up an exhibition in the Frauenkirche visitors’ centre displaying people’s personal memories of the night of 13 February 1945. Everyday items dug up in Dresden’s building sites bore witness to the wounds left behind by the firestorm in Dresden.
Every year, thousands of people from Dresden come to the Frauenkirche to remember what happened and call upon people to live together peacefully in a spirit of reconciliation. To find out about events this year, take a look in our events calendar.
The voices of the peacemakers: Speeches of Nobel Peace Laureates
On 1 December 2010 the first speech by a Nobel Peace Laureate was held in the Frauenkirche. Martti Ahtisaari, who won the prize in 2008, opened a special series of lectures which, sees a Nobel Peace Laureate invited to the rebuilt place of worship on a regualr basis. On 18 March 2014 Mohamed ElBaradei was the second Laureate to speak.
The speeches bear a message of peace from the Frauenkirche around the world, carried on the voices of outstanding peacemakers. With great patience and firm trust in reconciliation between people and nations, the apparently impossible can be achieved.
Candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize are people who have “done the most or best work for fraternity between nations” and "the holding and promoting of peace congresses", as Alfred Nobel decreed in 1895. One hundred years later the Frauenkirche was reconstructed in Dresden with the same aims, creating asymbol calling for tolerance and peace between nations and religions.
When Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei accepted the invitation to speak in the Frauenkirche, the Frauenkirche Dresden Foundation initiated a peace competition that asked pupils from Saxony to come up with ideas for a more peaceful world. The topic was set by Dr. ElBaradei himself who asked whether a world without nuclear weapons was a dream or rather a challenge for the next generation. 120 pupils participated and three winning teams got the chance to meet the Nobel Peace Laureate in person.
The Frauenkirche aims at carrying the message of peace and reconciliation into the next generation. In order to do that the Frauenkirche invites young people from all over the world to an international youth gathering: the Peace Academy. Every other year at the Pentecost weekend 500 youngsters aged between 16 and 27 come together to discuss peace issues, share their experiences and learn from one another.
Three Peace Academies have taken place so far (2010, 2012, 2014); the next one will be held in 2016. Enthusiastic young people from more than 20 countries are expected to attend. They will choose from a large number of workshops, enjoy concerts, music and dances, they will eat and spend time together. The conference languages are German and English.
For more information, please check out the PEACE ACADEMY website.
Supported by many
Reverends of the Frauenkirche
Two reverends are responsible for making the Frauenkirche a place of faith and worship. They coordinate the peace and reconciliation work: They develop ideas for new events and formats like lecture series or the international Peace Academy and strive to pass on the message of a peace in many different ways such as in services, music and individual encounters.
Music under a dome of reconciliation
The aim of Music in the Frauenkirche is to bring people together. When programmes are organised and performances are staged, the spirit of the church’s message always involves keeping up tradition and inspiring people to take new paths. For the consecration ceremony on 30 October 2005, choirmaster Matthias Grünert composed the consecration canon “Friede sei mit Euch” (Peace be with you). From then on, Music in the Frauenkirche was to become an event appealing to all the senses and proclaiming a message of reconciliation.
Light as a feather, the music of the organ, the voices of the soloists and choirs and the sounds of great orchestras are transported in all their perfection up to the dome, where they are met by the four Evangelists and the allegories of the Christian virtues of Faith, Love, Hope and Charity. The concerts and the music at the services join together in unity with the building to convey the message of harmony, peace and reconciliation, helping listeners find inner peace.
On Sundays, songs and Mass settings with “Dona nobis pacem” breathe musical life into the topic of peace. Twice a year the musical message of peace forms the core of spiritual Sunday music, which takes place once a fortnight. The major church festivals are put in musical form when Biblical texts set to music in Passions are performed at the annual “Cross and Resurrection” concert series before and at Easter, or when the Christmas Oratorio and other works are performed.
As well as the music itself, the Frauenkirche’s musicians also act as messengers. At Easter 2010 the Frauenkirche’s chamber choir travelled to England and gave concerts in several of the places the new church crosshad also passed through on its reconciliatory trip to Germany. Following spiritual compositions by Schütz, Mendelssohn and Becker, a moving piece by Rudolf Mauersberger rang out in Coventry Cathedral: “Wie liegt die Stadt so wüst” (So Desolate is the City). The trip to Coventry was not only another building block in Dresden and Coventry’s city partnership, it also created musical and artistic prospects of the partnership developing as a symbol of reconciliation and the idea of the Cross of Nails.
Commissioner for Peace and Reconciliation Work
In the Saxon Regional Church, peace and reconciliation work has always been an indispensable element of the wide range of fields the church covers.
In view of the events and the way people live in a world where conflict is often rife, the central focus is on raising awareness of the Christian mission for peace and reconciliation and motivating people to take practical steps in the church and the community.
Since 2010 Michael Zimmermann has taken on the duties of Commissioner for Peace for the Lutheran Church in Saxony and has supported Dresden Frauenkirche in its peace work.
The life in the Frauenkirche and thus all efforts to spread the peace message of the church would be impossible without the incredible help from volunteers. They welcome our guests, give guided tours, sing in either of the two choirs, lend an ear or an helping hand. By their presence and commitment, these 300 people turn the Frauenkirche into a place that aims to reach out to everybody and that can tell stories of overcoming hate and destruction, of the power of starting something new and of the strength that arises from working together for a reconciled and peaceful way of life.
Signs of reconciliation
Reading the signs: Scars of healed wounds
Signs of its tragic destruction can still be clearly seen on the reconstructed Frauenkirche. The dark colour of the old stones and the dimensional differences in the joints between the new and old masonry resemble the scars of healed wounds. They symbolise the message of the reconstructed Frauenkirche, which is closely linked to the church's history. As a place of remembrance the Frauenkirche reminds us of the destruction and suffering that war brings. As a place of hope it reminds us that wounds can heal and that reconciliation is possible.
Calling for peace: The peace bell Jesaja
The largest bell in the Frauenkirche’s peal is Isaiah (Jesaja), the Peace Bell, weighing 1,750 kg. Every weekday after the hour is struck at noon it calls out, evoking a “flickering longing for peace” (Christian Lehnert, 2004) and calling visitors to the church for midday prayer.
On the bell, the artist Christoph Feuerstein recreated a second of global terror in visual form: the moment when on 11 September 2001 an aircraft flown by terrorists hit the symbol of America, the World Trade Center – a moment of destruction.“
And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares” (Isaiah 2:4) – this Biblical hope will light up all dark corners of the modern world. Every time it sounds out like “a dark pulse”, the Isaiah bell reminds us that out pleas for peace extend to peace throughout the world.
When the bell was unveiled, the author Christian Lehnert wrote this poem on Isaiah, the Peace Bell:
The sound of bells, a dark pulse
drifts over gaps, seeps deeper
through layers of rubble under grass and asphalt.
The sound of bells,
Night in a city,
lit by darting rocket flashes,
Night of blazing pyres,
Night in the glow of candles by the bones of a church,
flickering with longing for peace.
Isaiah, the bell is named,
Bell of peace, distant voice of the prophet:
“And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares.”
Calls to prayer drifting over Baghdad,
Shofars sounding in Jerusalem,
Buddhist temple bells in Tibet…
I hear a sound made of many sounds:
Peace, Peace, where God resides.
Blessing “Peace be with you”
“Peace be with you” – these are the words Jesus said to his disciples on the day of his resurrection on Easter morning. Every visitor to the Frauenkirche takes this blessing away with them. When the church is open to visitors, one of the church guides says a spiritual message from the pulpit twice an hour. Words from the Bible or lines of poetry create a moment of peace and contemplation, always ending with the blessing.
Beneath the old church cross which was salvaged from the ruins of the Frauenkirche, visitors can light a prayer candle. The candle-light might evoke memories of someone dear to you; it might be a sign of gratitude and comfort, and the message on it is a call for peaceful co-existence: “Peace be with you”.
In St John's Gospel we can read:
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be with you! And when he had so said, he showed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you! As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. (John 20:19–21)