It is one of the last days of World War II, April 1945. The Russian Army is moving forward and everybody knows that the war is lost. But the Nazi leaders in Berlin give order not to surrender and never ever leave a German village, town or city to the enemy. Those who do not follow these orders are executed. In order to support their ground troops, the Russian army sends bombers to attack even the smallest villages, throw bombs and set the villages on fire. Many, many lives are lost, on both sides, amongst soldiers and civilians. But also families lose their homes and personal belongings, children their tools and far too often a place that for centuries has been the place to meet, the place to worship and the place that gave hope in dark times – their Church.
This is the Church Ruin of Flieth in the Uckermark in Brandenburg. The village of Flieth was first mentioned in 1269. Some sources say that there already was in church then, some say a church was first built around 1500. Before the Thirty Years’ War it was a prosperous village with 24 farms and 2(!) pubs. In the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) the village was destroyed and deserted. It took many years for Flieth to recover, it was not until 1713 that the church was restored, the tower, 36 m (121 feet) high, was finished in 1714, the three bells had been casted in Berlin in 1712. The alter from 1601 had survived the Thirty Years’ War.
Then, in 1945, after it’s bombing, only the walls and parts of the tower remained. Still, one more thing did survive, maybe as a sign of hope: one of the three church bells. It now hangs on a wooden bell tower on the graveyard, that still is in use.