In the center of Baden-Württemburg, there is a mountain built from the rubble of Stuttgart after World War II. Forty-five percent of the industrial city had been destroyed in 53 Allied bombing runs during the war. The resulting 1.5 million cubic meters of rubble was hauled to the southwest edge of the city, to a 200-meter hill that more than doubled in elevation to become Birkenkopf .

img_1955It is the highest point in Stuttgart at 511 meters,  offering 360-degree views of the city and countryside. People hike and bike to the summit from the surrounding woods and it is not uncommon to see children and dogs on the paths. In good weather, people picnic at the summit. Alone at the top, the mood tends toward serene, if not somber.

Ornaments from stone buildings lie covered in lichens and vines, and rebar reaches uselessly toward the sky. A bronze plaque set in a piece of rubble explains that the site should be seen as a memorial to those who died and as a warning to the living.

In 1953, a local minister erected a wooden cross at the summit for Easter services and the following year other churches in the community began holding monthly services on Birkenkopf which have continued since. A steel cross now stands where the wooden one had been.  A schedule for services can be found here.


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