Preserving Memories for the Sake of Peace, Justice and Reconciliation
In Coventry, Dresden and over 150 other places, the Cross of Nails calls for reconciliation.
May 8, 2012
On May 8, 1945 with the capitulation of Germany, the Second World War came to an end in Europe. From the English town of Coventry, whose Anglican cathedral had been destroyed in 1940 by German bombers, a call for reconciliation went out even while the war was still on. The cross, made from three nails dating from the medieval period found among the ruins, has become a symbol.
Today there are more than 150 Cross of Nails centers all around the world; together they make up the "Community of the Cross of Nails at Coventry Cathedral" (CCN), which is engaged in preserving memories and educational activities, and intervenes in present-day conflicts and hot spots, in the Coventry sense, for the sake of peace, justice and reconciliation. The original 1940 Cross of Nails stands on the altar of the new cathedral built next to the remains of the destroyed place of worship. Every Friday at midday, in the ruins of the former cathedral and in all Cross of Nails centers, prayers for peace and reconciliation are said.
On May 8, 2012, 67 years after the war's end and liberation from the yoke of national socialism, the Protestant Church of Reconciliation in the Dachau concentration camp memorial site and the Catholic pastoral service at the same memorial site will become the first ecumenical Cross of Nails center in the metropolitan Munich area and part of the international Community of the Cross of Nails. Among the guests expected is Canon David Porter, who had a decisive role in the peace-building process in Northern Ireland and today directs reconciliation activities at Coventry cathedral.
As of mid-May, a work of art from Coventry's German sister city Dresden will be dedicated in the name of peace and reconciliation. The just under 2.7 meter high and 1.1 ton bronze sculpture "Choir of Survivors" will be installed in the ruins of St Michael's Cathedral, which had been destroyed by German war planes in 1940.
It is a gift in honor of the 50th anniversary of the consecration of Coventry's new cathedral. A delegation including the Bishop of Saxony Jochen Bohl - who will preach at the cathedral Eucharist - will officially unveil the sculpture on May 20. "Without our fellowship with Coventry, the Frauenkirche would not be what it is today, a worldwide symbol of reconciliation," Bohl said. Donations for the reconstruction of the Frauenkirche also came from Great Britain; the Frauenkirche is also part of the Cross of Nails community.
Eighty-year-old sculptor Helmut Heinz survived the air attack on Dresden at the age of 13. Later on he took up the theme as an artist. His work portrays seven figures. Their uplifted faces gaze into an open future.
An inscription by the Bishop of Coventry Christopher Cocksworth on the pedestal remembers the civilian victims of the air war. According to the pastor of the Frauenkirche Holger Treutmann, the German victims are expressly included. Treutmann spoke of a "strong message." A new, modern place of worship was erected in 1962 to replace the cathedral destroyed during the war.
The anniversary of the building's consecration 50 years ago will be celebrated on May 25 with guests from all over the world, just a few days after the unveiling of the bronze sculpture. The chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) Nikolaus Schneider will also be present. (epd correspondent)