Our tour begins at Trinitatisplatz, in the middle of Johannstadt. You can reach Trinitatisplatz with tram line 6, from the direction of Postplatz or Niedersedlitz.
Before 1945: In the center of Johannstadt
In 1813, troops from Napoleon’s army met with those of Russia and Prussia on the edge of the city. 25,000 people lost their lives amid devastating slaughter and an epidemic of typhus. Because Dresden’s existing cemeteries were already full, a new burial site needed to be found outside the city. The choice was made to use the land that had once belonged to the now recently destroyed Engelhardts Inn and Spittelplatz. The city tasked court architect, Gottlob Friedrich Thormeyer, with planning the cemetery, which would become the first non-religious burial site in Dresden. In 1816, the grounds were ready for use, and after an expansion in 1834, they were christened, Trinitatisfriedhof. In the years that followed, many well-known people were buried here, including the doctor Carl Gustav Carus, the sculptor Ernst Rietschel and the singer Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient. More information on the subject can be found at the cemetery. Next to Trinitatisfriedhof is the Neue Jüdische Friedhof (New Jewish Cemetery), which can also be visited.
Find more information on the history of Trinitatisfriedhof here.
[lat. trinitatis] = Trinity of the Father, the Son of God (Jesus) and the Holy Spirit
Thanks to advancing industrialization, revised building codes and revenue from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71, Dresden experienced a marked increase in building activity. This also included what had been up to then the wholly rural eastern part of Pirnaische Vorstadt, which would later become Johannstadt. Fields and gardens disappeared to make way for large, angular plots, with residential developments and small businesses in their courtyards. Factories moved in.
The area’s new inhabitants belonged to the Johannesgemeinde, founded in 1878. The congregation’s original home was the Johanneskirche at modern-day St. Benno Gymnasium. At the time of the church’s consecration, the faithful numbered 23,000. Six years later, the church had grown too small for its now 40,000 congregants. It was resolved that Johannstadt be assigned its own parish and that a new church be built in a central urban location. For this purpose, the 1888 city council gave the newly founded Trinitatisgemeinde a well-situated parcel of land within Trinitatisfriedhof. After much preliminary planning, a stipend was awarded to resident architect Karl Barth for the planning of a church on these grounds. In 1894, after three years of construction, the neo-Rennaissance style church, with its landmark 65-meter-tall tower, was festively inaugurated.
Find more information on the history of Trinitatiskirche here.
A series of interesting buildings and installations could be found all along Trinitatisstraße (now Fiedlerstraße). Trinitatisstraße 2 was home to the school of applied art’s sculpture studio, where many artists, including Dresden sculpter Selmar Werner (telamons of the Ständehaus, Schiller monument at Albertplatz, crucifixion scene at the former English Church, etc) were active. Dresden’s cigarette industry also maintained two large factories on the street. The Kios cigarette factory and the Josetti cigarette factory—with its “Juno” brand—were known nationwide. Lippold’s suitcase company manufactured its goods on Trinitatisstraße, as well. This small factory became best known for being mentioned in Erich Kästner’s 1957 novel, “Als ich ein kleiner Junge war”–Kästner’s father was an employee at Lippold’s. The literal cornerstone for the VE Backwarenkombinat, founded after 1945, once belonged to the local bread factory. Most of these factories and more were destroyed in the 1945 bombardment. All that is left today is one factory owner’s villa.
More information on the history of Trinatisstraße here.
After 1945: From the ruins to the Jugendkirche
Ruins of Trinitatiskirche
The nave of Trinitatiskirche was burned out completely in the bombardment of February 1945, after just 51 years of use. The surrounding walls took serious damage, and the opposite parish hall, truss and interior furnishings were all lost. Only the tower survived the bombing relatively unscathed. During the 1950s, Johannstadt began extensive rubble-clearing operations, and the congregation cleared the once densely developed area around the church, which had now been decimated. A kindergarten moved into the reconstructed parish hall.
At the end of the 60s, in an attempt to stop the ruins from being demolished, congregants developed a project for a worship room and a conference area. In their free time, they cleared rubble with the most primitive of means and secured the tower and the remains of the walls. Due to a lack of demolition funds and the new work on the church, the ruins stayed. Today, occasional prayer services, concerts and cultural events take place under the open sky. Since 1992, the rooms have mainly been used by the Jugendzentrum Trinitatiskirche. The parish runs youth programming with support from the Landeshauptstadt Dresden. The Förderverein has been involved in the step-by-step development of the ruins for over two decades.
Jugendkirche and the new Trinitatisplatz
Starting in 2020, through the youth center Jugendkirche Dresden, and with sponsorship from the Ev.-Luth. Kirchenbezirke Dresden Mitte and Dresden Nord, spaces for inspirational events and experiences will be built within the ruins of Trinitatiskirche, and will be open to youth from the neighborhood and the entire metropolitan area. Young people will soon be able to get together, interact with one another, discover their own forms of expression and, of course, enjoy concerts and parties. The existing Jugendzentrum Trinitatiskirche, a youth café and the business office of the Evangelische Jugend Dresden will also have a place in the new building, next to a large, multipurpose event room.
Text: Matthias Erfurth, Matthias Kunert, Henning Seidler