From the Mirror of the Infinite to the Broken Looking Glass: Unveiling Beauty in German Glass Installations after the Holocaust

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1Rudy Koshar, in Max Page and Randall Mason, Giving Preservation a History (Routledge, 2004) 66.

2For excellent analyses of German identity issues, see Celia Applegate, A Nation of Provincials: The German Idea of Heimat, referring to the crucial German concept of homeland (1990), and Alon Confino, The Nation as Local Metaphor: Württemberg, Imperial Germany, and National Memory 1871-1918 (Univesity of North Carolina Press, 1997).

3Additional texts that represent this growing area of academic interest include: Imaging Modern German Culture: 1889-1910, edited by Françoise Forster-Hahn (CASVA, vol. 53, 1996); Norbert Elias’ The Germans: Power Struggles and the Development of Habitus in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (1996); and Rudy Koshar, Germany’s Transient Pasts Preservation and National Memory in the Twentieth Century (University of North Carolina Press, 1998), as well as Koshar’s From Monuments to Traces: Artifacts of German Memory, 1870-1990 (University of California Press, 2000) and German Travel Cultures (Berg, 2000).

Blending preservation studies with identity as well as contemporary discussions of the role of memory in memorializing history also emerges in helpful observations from James E. Young’s The Texture of Memory (Yale U) and At Memory’s Edge (Yale University Press, 2000); and, The Work of Memory: New Directions in the Study of German Society and Culture, edited by Alon Confino and Peter Fritzsche (University of Ilinois Press, 2002) Sources that focus particularly on art and architecture include Yule Heibel, Reconstructing the Subject (Princeton University Press, 1995), and Michael Z. Wise, Capital Dilemma: Germany’s Search for a New Architecture of Democracy (Princeton Architectural Press, 1998).

4From the British side, see the bombing strategy explained chronologically and by city in entries from The Bomber Command War Diaries: An Operational Reference Book, 1939-1945, compiled by Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt (Harmondsworth: Viking, 1985). See also Records of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey: Inventory of Record Group 243, compiled by Marilla B. Guptil and John Mendelsohn (Washington, D.C.: General Services Administration, National Archives and Records Service, 1975); Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, vols. 6 and 7, edited by Horst Boog, Werner Rahn, Reinhard Stumpf, and Bernd Wegner (Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1990); Dennis L. Bark and David R. Gress, From Shadow to Substance 1945-1963, vol. 1, A History of West Germany (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993); or recent narrative accounts, such as Robin Neillands, The Bomber War: The Allied Air Offensive Against Nazi Germany, (Woodstock and New York: Overlook Press, 2003), which often provide interesting new glosses on historical statistics.

5Bark and Gress, “The Hour at Zero,” from From Shadow to Substance 1945-1963, 30-46.

6Reinigung literally translates to English ‘purification,’ but often appears as a technical term for restoration in various guidebooks to Germany’s churches; artist Jochem Poensgen alerted me to this fact, and suggested that the word ultimately has the negative connotation of wiping the building free of its authentic past. In other examples, German speakers appropriated the English word “purification.” Interview, Soest, 19 August 2005.

7For many years, Frankish and German monarchs did not claim one capital, but moved about to strengthen their hold over wide regions of the Holy Roman Empire; consequently, although Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) always remained the kingpin, various sites became coronation and election centers until the process was tied to Frankfurt’s St. Bartholomäus, from 1538 to the nineteenth century, and to Frankfurt’s Pauluskirche.

8Walter Maas, Der Aachener Dom “Guide to Illustrations” (Aachen, 2001); and Ruth Schlotterhose, Die Chorfenster im Dom zu Aachen (Einhard, 2004).

9At this time, the largest installations by the square foot are the American Airlines terminal façade at J.F.K. InternationalAirport in New York, installed between 1961 and 1964, and designed by American Robert Sowers [312 feet wide x 22.5 feet high; 7,000 square feet]; see William Uhl, “A Storm Window for the World’s Largest Stained Glass Window” in Stained Glass, vol. 79:1 (Spring 1984) 57-58.

10Rainer Volp, “Unerledigt: Notitzen zum Heidelberger Fensterstreit,” in Lichteinfall: Zeitgenössische Kunst in der Kirche: Beispiele aus der Evangelische Kirche in Hessen und Nassau, (Frankfurt, 1995) 176-179.

11The Physics Window was installed in 1986. Schreiter donated a second version to the Provincial Museum of Alberta, BC, Canada, in 2001.

12Hans Gercke, July 1999 interview in Heidelberg.

13Confino’s preface repeatedly uses the term “peculiarity” to characterize Germany’s particular struggles with identity.

14The castle is presently, perhaps mistakenly, being reassembled by contemporary preservationists.

15Elmar Mittlar, et al. “Bibliotheca Palatina: Gründung und Entwicklung,” in Bibliotheca Palatina: Katalog zur Austellung vom 8. Juli bis 2. November 1986, Heiliggeistkirche Heidelberg (Heidelberg, 1986) 4-16. Ottheinrich instituted a yearly stipend for book buying at the Frankfurt Book Fair, and authorized the library’s first paid librarian.

16One can also see outlines of Calvin and Luther’s footsteps on the nearby University refectory’s steps, where they preached. Both occupied the pulpit of the University church, as well as Philip Melanchthon, whose exegeses were also included in the Bibliotheca Palatina.

17In 1816, the Vaticana returned the German language manuscripts from the Palatina, but this was a minute portion of its original holdings.

18Nave windows range between 104 cm. by 582 cm. high (roughly 3’ to 5’ wide x 19’). The towering choir windows measure 202 by 1224 cm. (approximately 6 1/2’ x 40 ‘ high).

19Heiliggeistkirche Kunstführer No. 1184 (Heidelberg,1992) 22.

20Eberhard Zahn, Die Heiliggeistkirche Zu Heidelberg: Geschichte und Gestalt (Karlsruhe, 1960), describes an excavation in the nave that uncovered the church’s Romanesque foundations, but the wall frescoes cannot all be recovered.

21Schreiter’s international installations or inclusion in collections include sites in Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States (Names Project, San Francisco; Pilchuck School of Glass; Corning Museum of Glass), where he has also led workshops or lectures in the past.

22Window themes from the apse to the narthex on the northern side: Gregorian music (a transition between apse and nave), Cartography, Medicine, Biology, Chemisty, and Economy; on the southern side, Resistance (the transitional window), Philosophy and Literature, Music, Computers, Media, and Physics.

23Choir windows from left to right: Creation, Torah, Prophecy, Sacrifice/Magnificat (center left), Lord’s Prayer (center, right), Ecumenism, Good Works/Social Welfare, Architecture, the Fall/Crisis, Reformation, Resistance.

24List main authors on Schreiter’s shatter lines.

25Heibel, Reconstructing the Subject: Modernist Painting in Western Germany, 1945-1950 (Princeton, 1995), 2.

26Interview, Langen, July 1996.

27Letter from Hans Gercke, Heidelberger Kunstverein, to Hermann Keller, 17 March 1988. Schreiter archive.

28Letter from Hans Gercke, Heidelberger Kunstverein, to Hermann Keller, 17 March 1988. Schreiter archive.

29Gerd Theißen, “Kunst als Zeichensprache des Glaubens” in Johannes Schreiter: Band II, 1987-1997 (Darmstadt, 1997) 9.

30From Richard von Weizsäcker, President of the Republic, to Father Eschel Alpermann, the minister who innovated the entire commission and later, lost his Heidelberg job when it was finally over. December 1986.