The Very Reverend John Witcombe - Potsdam
This story is told by the Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry and also Dean of the Community of the Cross of Nails.
“Earlier in the year, I visited Potsdam, just outside Berlin in the former East Germany. I was there to share in the dedication of a Cross of Nails Chapel within the building project to rebuild the Garrison Church in the town. It is a contentious project, with strong support from some who want to see a historic building rebuilt for its own sake, others who want to rebuild it as a Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, and others who think it should not be rebuilt at all.
“The church was deeply associated with Prussian military history, and was the site where Adolf Hitler took on leadership of the Third Reich. On the other hand, it was the place where some of those who plotted against Hitler and risked their lives in the attempt were regular members. Some opponents want the past to be forgotten, and others simply think that rebuilding is a waste of money.
“The associations with Coventry are of deep significance, and together with Canon Paul Oestreicher, I was there to draw attention to those, and to support the rebuilding as a Centre for Reconciliation. The whole event illustrated the complexities of working for Peace and a sound future for all in a way that acknowledges the realities of the past and seeks to heal – a message which we continue to take out from here to the world.”
The Very Reverend John Witcombe, Dean of Coventry