DOMRADIO.DE: Bulky, emotionless – are these the attributes you associate with Cologne Cathedral?
Bishop Robert Kleine (Dean of the city of Cologne and the cathedral): No, of course not. This surely also meant the entire previous city logo, showing two stylized cathedral spiers with the words “City of Cologne” on a red background.
With the new logo, this red background is omitted, as is the cathedral. There is only the city of Cologne. Now, however, in red instead of white lettering. I’m not exactly sure what’s innovative about it. The coat of arms, the imperial eagle, has also been modernized and made smaller. In my eyes, innovation looks different.
The previous logo distinguished Cologne from other cities. Many city logos consist only of the coat of arms and an inscription. But Cologne has the cathedral! They all connect the cathedral with Cologne and this was something special about the logo. The city may have a different opinion.
There is also a new motto for the new logo, a leitmotiv: “Cologne: shaping the future together”. The motto can also exist in any other city or in projects such as the Pastoral Way for the future in the archdiocese. The new logo and slogan are arbitrary. It suited us in Cologne to show that we have the cathedral.
DOMRADIO.DE: Does the new dome-less logo take away a piece of uniqueness? Is the city of Cologne giving up some of its uniqueness?
Little: Yes. I don’t know who recommended the city, but besides the name I would look at the particularities you have to offer. There are many churches and cathedrals with two towers, but the two spiers in the old logo were very thin and yet everyone knew, “Ah, this is Cologne. This is Cologne Cathedral.”
We had a similar debate a few years ago when Köln Messe removed the cathedral from their logo. I wonder if getting the cathedral going is a good thing. After all, the cathedral will survive even the next ten logos of the city. I’m confident. The previous logo was now around 20 years old. There will also be new logos and wonderful leitmotifs and sayings in the future, but the cathedral will remain.
DOMRADIO.DE: Is the removal of the cathedral a sign of secularization? Should the church disappear more from urban society?
Little: I do not believe that. This is not how I evaluate the leaders of our city. I think you want to follow a trend and keep up with the times. Everything is somehow objectified and the cathedral has been thrown off the train. Other cities are already including their landmarks in their logos and are proud to have something to advertise with.
Of course Cologne is not only made up of the cathedral, the Gothic or Romanesque churches. Cologne is made up of its districts and its cultural scene. But for me it’s all behind the cathedral. Because the cathedral stands for Cologne. This is sung in many songs, not just at carnival.
Cologne Cathedral is open to everyone and is not just a sign of religion. As God’s house, it is a sign built for the city; for the feeling that prevails here; and for all the people who live here and who come here. People from all countries and continents are invited to the cathedral. Not everyone comes because of the cathedral, but most do.
DOMRADIO.DE: So it can be said that the cathedral is actually the logo of our city, right?
Little: Yes, you don’t need a letter from the city administration for this, you can see the cathedral, the logo of this city, from a distance. And anyone who sees Cologne Cathedral from afar is happy. This is not always the case when you get mail from the city. You can tell who the letter came from by looking at the envelope. I don’t need to look at the logo for that. We will continue to see the cathedral, in publications, on posters, but especially in the original.
And the original celebrates the 700th anniversary of the Gothic Choir this year, the first part of the Cologne Cathedral. So the cathedral has shaped our city for 700 years and its two towers completed for nearly 150 years.
The interview was conducted by Gerald Mayer.