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St. Lambertus Church, Immerath.

Impressive Neo-Romanesque Church Destroyed by Mining Company in Germany

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A 19th century Catholic Church in Germany was demolished last week by an energy company that destroyed an entire village in order to make way for coal mining in Immerath, Western Germany. The company, however, built a new village for the residents of Immerath just seven miles away.

Historic Catholic Church Demolished 

St. Lambertus church, known locally as a “Cathedral” because of its impressive size, doesn’t exist anymore as it was one of the buildings that were demolished in the small village of Immerath, northwest of Cologne. As Catholic Herald reported, the demolition of the historic double-spired church – believed to have been built between 1880 and 1890 – was the latest step in RWE Power's demolition of the village in order to expand access to the area's lignite supply.

Demolition of St. Lambertus (Immerath) due to coal mining, January 2018

Demolition of St. Lambertus (Immerath) due to coal mining, January 2018. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

The farming village once hosted nearly 1,200 residents, which have now relocated seven miles away after the village was taken over by mining company RWE. The company constructed new houses and a hospital at the new site, while the bodies from the village’s cemetery were exhumed from their graveyards and have now been reburied in the new location.

The beautiful 19th century church, that no longer exists.

The beautiful 19 th century church, that no longer exists. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

According to Catholic Herald, the church was particularly famous for its double towers and neo-Romanesque design. However, it had not held a Mass since October 2013, when it was officially deconsecrated. RWE has constructed a replacing chapel according to a modern design with a small replica of the demolished cathedral, placed in the new village's plaza.

The 21st century replacement in the new village.

The 21 st century replacement in the new village. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Second Blow for Germany’s Ecclesiastical Circles within a Few Months

Despite the undeniable social and economic prowess of Germany – perfectly demonstrated in this case by RWE Company’s provisions for Immerath’s citizens – several Greenpeace activists protested against the church’s demolition, brandishing banners that said #ENDCOAL as the Daily Mail reports.

Unfortunately, this is the second “victim” for the country’s ecclesiastical culture and history, as a few months ago a 900-Year-Old German Monastery was forced to shut down because of monk shortage. As was reported by Ancient Origins back in October of 2017, Himmerod Abbey, a Cistercian monastery that's existed for almost 900 years in what is now western Germany closed down for good, due to running expenses and also a shortage of monks.

The final demolishing of St. Lambertus’ famous two towers.

The final demolishing of St. Lambertus’ famous two towers. (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Himmerod Abbey’s Remarkable History

Himmerod Abbey was founded in 1134 by French Abbot Bernhard of Clairvaux. After coming back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2011, the monastery closed its doors permanently a few months ago. There were only six monks left in the abbey compared to the thirty residing there almost forty years ago. In 1922 the monastery was re-founded by the settlement of German Cistercian monks from the former monastery of Mariastern in modern-day Bosnia. The church building was reconstructed under Abbot Vitus Recke (Abbot from 1937 to 1959), and completed in 1962.

The abbey today has a museum, a book and art shop, a café, a guesthouse and retreat-house, as well as a fishery. Its highlight, however, is its own publishing house, the Himmerod Drucke, which has published over 50 works by a number of authors, especially Father Stephan Reimund Senge, a monk at Himmerod.

Himmerod Abbey Church.

Himmerod Abbey Church. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Notably, the monastery was used during the 1950’s in a distinctly non-monastic capacity, as a secret meeting point of former Wehrmacht high-ranking officers discussing West Germany's rearmament. There was agreed the infamous “Himmerod Memorandum,” the document that laid foundation for the establishment of the new army – Bundeswehr – of the Federal Republic.

The memorandum, along with the public declaration of Wehrmacht's "honor" by the Allied military commanders and West Germany's politicians, contributed to the creation of the myth of the "clean Wehrmacht.” From 5 to 9 October 1950, a group of former senior officers, at the behest of Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, met in secret at the Himmerod Abbey, from where the memorandum took its name, to discuss West Germany's rearmament. The participants were divided in several subcommittees that focused on the political, ethical, operational and logistical aspects of the future armed forces.

The resulting memorandum included a summary of the discussions at the conference and bore the name "Memorandum on the Formation of a German Contingent for the Defense of Western Europe within the framework of an International Fighting Force". It was intended as both a planning document and as a basis of negotiations with the Western Allies. The participants of the conference were convinced that no future German army would be possible without the historical rehabilitation of the Wehrmacht.


Modern Needs

Back to the issue of St. Lambertus church and the need for its demolition. St. Lambertus church and the village of Immerath was built on a source area for lignite, a type of coal found close to the surface. Lignite is easy to mine and is mainly used (79% according to Lignite Energy Council) in electricity production, which is essential the modern world. St. Lambertus has thus fallen victim to the constant energy demands of the modern human.

Top image:  St. Lambertus Church, Immerath. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

By Theodoros Karasavvas



riparianfrstlvr's picture

it is ironic that in the beginning of the video it shows them starting to tear down that beautiful cathedral to mine coal for electricity, off in the distance not that far away you can see some nice green wind mills for generating electricity. what else is also ironic, the new church in the new village looks way more like an abortion clinic than a cathedral


Theodoros Karasavvas's picture


Theodoros Karasavvas, J.D.-M.A. has a cum laude degree in Law from the University of Athens, a Masters Degree in Legal History from the University of Pisa, and a First Certificate in English from Cambridge University. When called upon to do... Read More

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