Wait a minute! Two names for one church? Indeed, the church building is called the Alte Nikolaikirche, but the Protestant congregation which has worshiped there since 1949 is the German-speaking St. Paul’s congregation.
Where does the name come from? The Paulskirche, just two hundred meters from the Alte Nikolaikirche, was home to the St. Paul’s congregation until it was badly damaged by bombs in March 1944. After being rebuilt during the years following the Second World War, the church was turned into a national monument, used today for acts of state and ceremonies of national and international significance. Most people, though, remember the Paulskirche as the „cradle of democracy“, recalling the historic National Assembly which met there in 1848. This Assembly marked the beginnings of modern-day German democracy.
On June 25, 1963, just a few months before his death, American President John F. Kennedy delivered a highly-acclaimed speech at the Paulskirche, in which he emphasized the cherished values of freedom and equality – the dominant themes of the 1848 National Assembly. Kennedy recognized – some forty years ago – that „we live in an age of interdependence as well as independence – an age of internationalism as well as nationalism…Today there are no exclusively German problems, or American problems, or even European problems. There are world problems – and our two countries and continents are inextricably bound together in the tasks of peace as well as war.„