The Zionskirche is a landmark church about 2km north of Alexanderplatz in Berlin.
In the mid 1980s, its rectory was home to the Umwelt-Bibliothek, or environmental library, which was an important center of opposition against the DDR government. They also had a printing press, and published samizdat newsletters until they were forced to shut down. The environmental, cultural, and religious activism centered here and in other churches throughout East-Central Europe was an important part of the “parallel polis,” or underground culture, which laid groundwork for life after totalitarianism.
Many years earlier, the Zionskirche was briefly home to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Lutheran theologian and vocal anti-Nazi dissident. Exposure to the difficult conditions in the neighborhood helped to transform him – he came from a privileged background – and likely influenced his later decision to actively oppose a government he disagreed with. Bonhoeffer was first harassed by the authorities, then imprisoned, and finally executed, weeks from the end of the war. There is a monument to Bonhoeffer at one side of the church building.
photographs made using NOPO 120 camera