Iconoclasm and the Making of the Prayer Wall
Religion, a key Cold War weapon, laid the first cornerstones of the “prayer wall.” Along the border, evidence of faith’s breakdown in the East became manifest when religious images from Czechoslovakia’s churches, some intact and others disfigured in acts of iconoclasm, landed in West Germany to become centers of new legends and pilgrimage cults. Highlighting two most prominent incidents from 1950 and 1951, this chapter reconstitutes polyphony of parochial, diocesan, and lay voices against the troubled backdrop of postwar popular piety and miracle belief in Europe’s Catholic areas. It considers how faith fashioned West Germany’s have-nots—expellees and residents of the economically depressed Bavarian backwaters—into protectors of the West’s expressly Christian limit. With religion’s help, periphery made a bid on becoming a new center.
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