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Germany: saving the stained glass windows of demolished churches, Mr and Mrs Jansen-Winkeln’s mission

Ernst and Annette Jansen-Winkeln, originally from Mönchengladbach, continue their efforts at rescuing and listing the stained glass windows that are the symbols of German churches, with the stained glass windows of the parish church of St Barbara in Essen which will soon be demolished (the 13th Catholic Church pulled down in the diocese due to the reorganisation process). They have currently saved 650 stained glass windows from demolished Catholic and Evangelical churches: they have also saved some of those of the Cathedral of Immenrather, in the diocese of Aachen, completely razed to the ground to extend a mine. Mr and Mrs Jansen-Winkeln (he is an architect and art historian, she is a photographer) have had the stained glass windows removed at their expenses and bought them for 5 thousand euros: “We cannot bear to see the windows thrown way and the churches destroyed”, say Ernst and Annette, who do not mind if the churches are old or new, as in the case of St Barbara’s, built in 1952 over the remains of an earlier church destroyed in the Second World War. Annette takes pictures of the stained glass windows, but if they want to save and file them they must buy them first: “being able to save the windows of St Barbara’s is something special”, regrets the art historian, who thinks the ecclesiastic board does not exactly know what to do with the furnishings, art and stained glass windows when a church is abandoned or demolished. And all over Germany there are hundreds of churches that have been abandoned, demolished or sold to be converted in the last few years.

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