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Kammerer T.

Shortly before the collapse of the USSR, Wiedergeburd («Revival») society, which later became the first union of the German national and cultural minorities in the former Soviet Union, was organized. The Lutheran religious from Odessa branch of the society officially registered the Evangelical Lutheran community of Odessa in the state bodies on October 16, 1990. The latter became the first community in Ukraine, a newly established after the destruction of the Lutheran Church in the Soviet period.

Lutheran Church   1824—1894   1895—1917   1918—1991   Restoration   Parsonage  Temples-prototypes   Slideshow

Facades after restoration

 Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church

General view

General view General view General view General view

Due to the efforts of the Lutheran Church community members the garbage was removed from the church, doors with locks were installed, apertures of the ground floor were laid, the pews were made and a temporary altar with a crucifix and the artistic depiction of Jesus behind the altar appeared. Simultaneously with the works alms collection from members and visitors of the community was carried out for the benefit of the future temple restoration. In 1992, the Synod of the Lutheran Church assigned Odessa as the center of Ukrainian Diocese, and St. Paul's Church — Odessa Lutheran Church — as the cathedral church of the Diocese. This decision was largely favored the church restoration prospect.

Main façade facing Novoselsky Street Main façade in Dvoryanskaya Street view
 Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Side façade (right-side)

Already in 1993 authorities agreement in principle on the church ruins assignation in the community property was obtained and took place in 1997. In 2000-2002, construction work on the façades restoration and reconstruction of the parsonage as GELC (German Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ukraine) and Odessa GELC community administrative building with a hall consisting 190 seats was carried out.

But before restorers set to deal with the building of the church directly, was another three years. October 4, 2005, the solemn consecration of the building site took place and work on the reconstruction of the building was started. Proposed by «Ekostroy» reconstruction project (architect Alexander Golovanov) provided demolition of the dangerous apse and construction in its place a modern three-storey building to house the German national, cultural and religious center. In the preserved scope of the building was inscribed reduced, compared with the original, a hall for church services and organ recitals.

Façade restoration works

Interior aperture after the dangerous apse demolition Dismantled apse stone, intended to fill the affected pieces of façade fragments and the altar masonry, pulpit and font Side portals restoration Steeple hipped roof restoration A view of the hall roof new frame from the steeple A view of the restoring steeple and the new roof from the new wing roof

Interior restoration work

Church interior at the restoration work beginning (2005) Church interior with a new choir and heat-insulated floor (2009)

Painting fragment, found during the restoration

Differences between the reconstructed interior and the old one were quite striking. The lounge has a flat ceiling, in terms of a rectangle with sides of 18.5 to 21 meters and can accommodate about 600 people, while the former was designed for 1,200 people, including the gallery.


General view of the altar General view of the altar General view of the altar General view of the altar
General view of the choir General view of the choir General view of the choir General view of the choir General view of the choir General view of the choir
A view from the side gallery A view of  the second tier windows from the choir

Most of the funds for the restoration of the temple were assigned by Lutheran community in Bavaria and individual patrons. It was collected 6.5 million euros to carry out major renovation of the Lutheran Church.
This amount was enough not only for the resettlement of decent interior of the church hall, but also on the equipment of the belfry with 4 bells. The bells were made on the old bell factory «Perner» in Passau on the Danube, Germany. The largest bell of Christ, weighing 1 ton is a gift of the partner community from Regensburg. Weight of the second bell of St. Peter's Church is 480 kg. And the smallest, the fourth bell of Virgin Mary, weighing 280 kg, was made at the expense of the community of St. Paul's in Odessa, who donated not only money but also valuable coins and jewelry.

Staircase tower

A view of the staircase A view of the staircase A view of the staircase A view of the staircase
A view of right-side staircase tower from the upper tier windows Staircase window aperture Staircase window aperture Staircase window aperture Staircase window aperture
Steeple middle tier windows A fragment of the new steeple frame Drained (?) floor hollow

Many donations were also received in the form of elements of decoration. Old, well-preserved church pews — it is a gift of the community of the church of St. Ulrich.


Organ with 2 manuals and a pedal for 27 registers of the well-known company, «Steinmeier» (Bavaria) was presented of the Holy Cross Lutheran Church community from Nuremberg. This musical instrument was made for the church of St. Cross in 1964, but the sound in the temple of Nuremberg community was moderate and the organ was biding its time for a long time in the storehouse. Acoustics of the Lutheran Church hall came to its sound much better.


Organ and choir A view of the organ from the choir

At the altar there are wooden sculptures of saint apostles St. Peter and St. Paul and the crucifix in baroque, made in the XVIII century and donated to the Lutheran church by the Roman Catholic episcopacy of Regensburg.


General view General view General view Altar fragment Altar fragment Sculptures of the Apostles St. Peter and St. Paul

The icon of the Virgin and Christ Child, presented Lutheran Church by the Orthodox community got a place of honor in the renovated church as well.

The decoration of the church interior fulfilled the artist Tobias Kammerer from Rottweil in Wurttemberg, already had a creative experience in Ukraine. In 2000, in Kiev, he carried on working in the church of St. Catherine, in 2002 — in the center of St. Paul in Odessa. In the decoration the artist expressed peculiarities of the Lutheran faith in bright colour. So, in the painting of the altar wall the sacrament of baptism was shown in the form of a blue water stripe, passing into the silver «stream» on the floor. Red stripes and circular free designs symbolize the blood of Christ and the sacrament of communion. On the ceiling blue colors depict a boat — a symbol of the Lutheran church as well.


 Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

General view

The altar, baptismal font and pulpit of the new church made ​​of cut and polished stones the demolished apse. Thus, the stone of the shrine inside the temple have something in common with the façade trim stone. The windows stained glasses in orange tints light up the temple with warm soft light in the daytime. Stained glasses move from darker to lighter approaching the altar.

Stained glasses

One of the upper tier windows stained glasses One of the lower tier windows stained glasses Stained  glass in the utility services room Stained glass transom of the side entrance

In its structure, the interior of the new church of St. Paul reminds frankish margrave church hall. In contrast to the old, dark, due to an oak finish, the interior walls have been painted into light colours, which make the room look bigger and lighter.

Main entrance lobby

General view from the hall General view Ffragment of the original semicircular vault over the entrance from the street Fragment of the original cross-vaulting Memorial plaque

Galleries under the choir

General view Right-side gallery Right-side gallery Left-side gallery with historical exposition

Hall decoration pieces

Choir barrier fragments A column, supporting the choir Capitals of the authentic semi columns of the altar aperture

In the left-side of the hall there is a small, but undoubtedly interesting exposition of items and documents related to the history of both the building and the Lutheran confession in general. Here one can see, in particular, the contents of the mortgage chest (damaged when removing from under the ground), opened by builders in the place using a perforator — a few German coins and mortgage deed of architect G. K. Shevrembrandt. Moreover, in the showcases of exposition ancient books on the history of German Reformed Church, collections of prayers and canticles, handwritten Bible, antique church plate, fragments of the old decoration of the temple, etc. found their place.

Historical items

Mortgage deed (photograph by Dumskaya.net) Cast-iron tips of the old church fence

Alabaster crucifix from domestic chapel of German empress Victoria Prussian (1840—1901)

After nearly five years of construction and restoration work, in April 17, 2010, a solemn liturgy in honor of the consecration of the restored Church took place. This day opened up a new chapter in the history of one of the most beautiful buildings of Odessa.

Lutheran Church from distant field of view

A view from the side of Staroportofrankovskaya Street (photograph by Eugenie Lata http://vk.com/lost_world) A view from the side of Torgovaya Street (photograph by Eugenie Lata http://vk.com/lost_world)

Lutheran Church in the evening

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Panorama of Novoselskogo Street and Dvoryanskaya Street crossroad

General view General view

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In February 1920, power of the Bolsheviks was established in Odessa, and in October 1921, a special committee withdrew church registers of births, which had been conducted since 1820. Spreading famine gave rise to the confiscation of many church treasures from the Evangelical Lutheran parish of St. Paul by the province executive committee on May 3, 1922.

Lutheran Church   1824—1894   1895—1917   1918—1991   Restoration   Parsonage  Temples-prototypes   Slideshow

However, the really difficult times had come to the community with the beginning of large-scale repression of the 1930s (so-called «Great Terror»), when about 8 million Soviet citizens, among them priests and the religious of all confessions of the country were annihilated on unjust charges. Friedrich Merz, who served as a vicar in Odessa in 1916-1919, was lost in 1931 at the Solovetsky camps. The last pastor of Odessa parish Karl K. Fogel was arrested July 4, 1937 and executed by shooting on October 27 of that year; the church choirmaster and organist, professor of Odessa Conservatoire and concertmaster of the Odessa Opera House Theophilus D. Richter (the father of the eminent Soviet pianist of the twentieth century Sviatoslav Richter) was shot with the other 23 members of the «German» church in October 1941, shortly before the entry of the German and Romanian troops in Odessa.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

K. Fogel, the last pastor of the Lutheran Church

Public liturgy in the Lutheran church stopped in 1938, the same year the cross from the spire of the church was removed. During the Romanian occupation of Odessa the Church of St. Paul was again opened on 7 December 1941, the service was held until the end of December 1943. The celebration in Odessa parish in this period was carried out by the Lutheran pastors of the German community in Romania. In such a short period, a total of about twenty pastors, to some extent, contributed to the restoration of church traditions in the city.
After the war the building was given Popov Institute of Communications, which main building rose up close to it. The temple was used as a warehouse for a long time, and later — the gym. The apse was equipped with toilets and showers for athletes, and a laundry was attached to the outside of the building, that led to the destruction of the foundations due to the ingress of water and wastewater.

Lutheran Church in postwar times

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

General view from Popov Institute of Communications side

The choir were equipped to practice cycling, wrestling and gymnastics. As a result, deep cracks appeared in bearing structures of the temple. The Lutheran Church destruction continued for decades — slowly but inevitably the building was perishing.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Cracks and other extensive damages of the façade, photograph 1975

In the early 1960s, the Institute leader’s plans to demolish the dangerous structure for the construction of another student’s dormitory became known to the public at large. In 1965-1966 a fierce struggle for the preservation of the church of St. Paul broke out. Not only the State Security Service of the cultural heritage of Ukraine, but also the leading intellectuals of Odessa and students from various higher schools protested against the demolition of the church. Through their vigorous resistance, it was success in cancellation of the planned explosion of the long-suffering building.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Roof fragment, photograph early 1970s

In 1971, the Regional Union of Architects applied for identifying the building of the church of St. Paul in the category of architecture monuments and its preservation (it was only in 1979).
Meanwhile, in the church there were systematic restoration works: in order to use it as an organ and concert hall. Public at large supported this project with donations.

When this goal was almost achieved, the fire at night May 9, 1976 almost completely destroyed the building, leaving only the stone case. Almost completely interiors and partially lap structures were lost. Rumors about a deliberate arson have not been ceasing in the city until now.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Fire at night May 9,1976

Lutheran Church after the fire

General view, the end 1970s General view, the end 1970s General view, photograph 1978
Steeple, photograph by N.Dutsenko at the turn of 1970s and 1980s Right-side facade  and altar towers, photograph by N.Dutsenko at the turn of 1970s and 1980s Main entrance portal, 1978 Altar part and apse, 1978 Side facade, portal and outward walls
Interior columns and beams charring during the fire Choir

Only in 1987, the reconstruction of the building was resumed. Raised funds, of course, were enough only to carry out anti-damage measures in the ruins of what was once the Lutheran church. And everything again reached a dead end.

Restoration Plan, developed by the Kiev Institute for Protection of Monuments (1989)

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Title page

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

Church and parsonage (nursing home) conversion plan in the Concert Hall and Music Center

The building was becoming dilapidated disastrously fast, turned into a dangerous shelter for the homeless and persons of doubtful lifestyle.

Lutheran Church in Odessa. German church.

A view of Lutheran Church to the centennial celebration in 1997

A fragment of the facade ruins (the second half of 1990s) A fragment of the facade ruins (the second half of 1990s) Laid windows of the lower tier (the second half of 1990s) Main entrance portal (the second half of 1990s) Windows of the utility services room (the second half of 1990s) One of the small semi columns (the second half of 1990s)
Church interior, a view of the laid apse, 1989 A view of the main entrance from the apse Lobby Stabilizing steel structure in the apse

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