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Messiah's Chapel - A Research Seminar on the Church in the Nazi Era, Aftermath, and Politics of Memory

Johan Wagner, Philipp Dinkelaker, Johannes Kellnerau, Humboldt University of Berlin, Faculty of Theology

This research seminar, using the example of the Messiah's Chapel in Prenzlauer Berg, aims to take a closer look at how the Berlin church dealt with the 'Jewish Question' during and after the Holocaust. As the headquarters of the 'Berlin Jewish Mission,' the official church coordinated Christian missionary work among Jewish people. Until its closure in 1941 by the Gestapo, the Messiah's Chapel also served as a place of baptism for at least 700 individuals classified as 'non-Aryan' by the Nazi regime. Many of them were subsequently murdered by German perpetrators, without the church refusing allegiance to the regime. In this interdisciplinary research seminar, participants and instructors will discuss previously overlooked aspects of the contradictory history of the Messiah's Chapel during and after the Nazi era based on original sources. Together, they will explore why the memory of this history remains challenging to this day. Participants will critically accompany the development of a memorial site, as planned by the Church District of City Center. This research-based teaching seminar is open to students at all levels of experience and does not require any prior historical knowledge. Tailored to individual interests, students will gain insights into historical source analysis and research techniques that can be valuable in various professional fields.