In the early 16th century, Martin Luther called Frankfurt “the gold and silver hole through which everything that springs and grows, is minted or coined here, flows out of Germany.” Indeed, the stock exchange originated in Frankfurt around 1100 when the Emperor called for free trade fairs, and currencies from all over Germany were exchanged. It is now the 10th largest stock exchange in the world. Frankfurt is still defined by its global economic influence. If you’ve flown to Europe, chances are you’ve connected through Frankfurt. But it also Europe’s busiest cargo hub, with more than 2 million tons passing through each year.
Even the skyline manifests the prominence of money. Despite zoning rules stipulating that skyscrapers be concentrated downtown, the city allowed the towering European Central Bank headquarters to be built in the East End, separate from the rest though still within the city limits.
Many people move to Frankfurt to make money and gain power, perhaps the two biggest idols. At the same time, there is an underlying social consciousness about the abuse of these two idols. Primark, a large clothing retailer with a shop in downtown Frankfurt, is disliked in the North End because of its factory conditions and cheap labor.
“Idols are built on good desires, but the way we go about them has to be redeemed,” Stephan said, “They are meant for good, something that points to God. They point to something more beautiful.”