Potsdam (dpa/bb) – Reconstruction of the nearly 90-meter-tall tower of the Garrison Potsdam Church has reached a critical stage four and a half years after construction began: “Construction work has been completed and the structure is completed, a Garrison Foundation spokesperson said. Church Welland-Ichenberg to dpa. Now the sandstone of the viewing platform will be installed at a height of 57 meters. Subsequently, the construction of a 23-meter high hood made of wood and metal construction became on the agenda. “We currently plan to open and operate the tower in early 2024,” Eschenburg announced.
The main attraction of the new Potsdam landmark is the viewing platform, which can be reached unimpeded by lift – but you can also walk 365 steps to the top. On two floors above the chapel on the ground floor there is space for seminar rooms and an exhibition on the history of the former military chapel. The Foundation currently calculates the total costs at 41 million euros.
However, the completion of the Potsdamer Tower is not yet certain. Because the Federal Court of Accounts had criticized that previous funding from the federal government in the amount of 20 million euros had been made available without sufficient evidence of the overall funding of the project. As a result, the Council of Secretary of State for Culture Claudia Roth (the Greens) withheld additional funding of €4.5 million and demanded similar proof from the Foundation. The Federal Authority, at its request, announced that the examination of documents was still in progress.
Without those extra millions from the federal government, it would still be a rump tower. Funds are particularly needed to finance the hood. However, Eschenburg is confident that the operation of the tower can be secured primarily through income from visiting the viewing platform and renting out the seminar rooms. Under current regulations, up to 160,000 visitors can climb the tower each year, Eschenberg says. “With an entry fee of about 5 euros, something comes together.” He is convinced that proving the profitability of the project will succeed.
In addition to the citizens’ initiative to build a Potsdam church without a garrison, which again called for a construction freeze in light of the Court of Auditors’ report, the Association for the Promotion of Anti-Military Traditions in Potsdam also opposes further construction. “This church represents Prussian militarism,” says spokesman Carsten Linke. He notes that from the association’s point of view, the enterprise lacked not only the funds for further construction, but also the current operation with staff costs and other expenses.
The Evangelical Church has approved additional funding of up to 490,000 euros for this year and next. “But in doing so, the church has only succeeded in avoiding bankruptcy of the institution for the time being,” says Link. According to the association’s calculations, the foundation needs half a million euros annually during the renewal and twice that after the start of operation. Eschenburg does not dispute this, but points out that post-completion costs can only be calculated when the concept of operation is in place.
The foundation has already called for the historic nave to be reconstructed in place of the former data center from the GDR adjoining the tower. The financial resources and the concept of persuasive use are certainly lacking in this. There is no need for another church in Potsdam. Now, after a compromise negotiated by Lord Mayor Mike Schubert (SPD), the former data center must be largely retained and used as a “house of democracy” with a new public hall for city council members, among other things.
Because of its past as a military church and meeting place for right-wing organizations, many initiatives, including Christianity, oppose Reconstruction. Opponents see the historic building as a symbol of militarism and as a meeting place for right-wing movements in the 1920s and 1930s. Therefore, in addition to the exhibition in the tower, the foundation wants to focus on education and work for peace. And seminars were held with school classes and youth groups for two years, as far as the Corona situation allowed.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220426-99-43267 / 3