The French and German Cathedral on the Gendarmenmarkt
The Gendarmenmarkt is one of my favorite spots in Berlin. Memories are tied to it. Around 1966, there were three black ruins here, and my mum (she knew the past beauty of this square) was very sad. When I came back in the 90’s, the cathedrals were beautifully restored. Ernst and I visited the museum about the Huguenots that Friedrich the Great had welcomed in Berlin. The French Cathedral was for them. Back later again… with Ernst in the Konzerthaus. And today, Antoinette takes me to the French Cathedral. Two priests are reading about the diversity in literature that has been destroyed 80 years ago (Dr. Jürgen Kaiser and Dr. Matthias Loerbroks). Here are two thoughts that I took with me.
Berlin and Babel – both striving for unity and destroying diversity
Berlin 80 years ago and Babel in the bible have similarities. Both towns longed for unity… unity of language, unity of thought, unity of the peoples, unity of art, unity of architecture (symbolized by the one tower of Babel). Yes, unity is easier to handle than diversity which is complex. But the bible condemns such unity and says that destroying diversity is sinful. Diversity is what the bible asks for… diversity is, the priests say, what God wants. But 80 years ago Berlin became a second Babel and destroyed diversity. Sorely, the priests admit that the church then supported the destruction of diversity.
Written text can be destroyed, but not the words (and thoughts)
80 years ago Berlin burnt books that did not conform to the unity of thought, not far away from the cathedral. The bible describes a similar burning of books. In Jeremias 36, God asked Jeremias to write down the history of Israel and Juda. The text was read out to Jojakim, the king of Juda. He cut the written text into pieces and burnt it. But Jojakim could only burn the written text, not the words. Jeremias wrote them on paper again. Similarly burning books in Berlin just destroyed the written text, but not the words and thoughts.
The devil in Bulgakow’s “Master and Margarita”
Master burns his book about Pontius Pilatus that had not been accepted for publication. Towards the end of this wonderful story, at the devils’ party, the devil Voland pulled Master’s book from the fire and says that his manuscripts cannot be destroyed. Did Bulgakow have Jeremias 36 in mind, when he wrote this? And, I understand, that this was a hidden hint to another ruler who tried to destroy diversity.
Dr. Kaiser invited the community into the garden of the parish hall in Taubenstrasse, where barbecue, salad, water, cake and coffee were waiting for us in the warm sun. We all sat together and chatted. Now, Dr. Kaiser will read “Master and Margarita” – his organist (from the former GDR) promised to lend him his copy and confirmed enthusiastically that it is worth reading.