Fraenkelufer Synagogue in Berlin

Thursday, 9 November 2023 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Berlin
Reading Time:  6 minutes

© Jörg Zägel/cc-by-sa-3.0

© Jörg Zägel/cc-by-sa-3.0

The synagogue on Fraenkelufer (German: Fraenkelufer Synagoge) in Berlin‘s Kreuzberg district was built as an Orthodox Synagogue between 1913 and 1916 according to plans and under the direction of the master builder of the Jewish Community of Berlin, Alexander Beer. The structure was located on Kottbusser Ufer 48–50, today’s Fraenkelufer 10-16. On Kristallnacht, the evening of November 9-10th, 1938, the main building of the synagogue was badly damaged. Further destruction in the following years led to the structures ultimate demolition in 1958/1959 after the end of World War II. Today the surviving outbuilding, previously used for the youth service, has been renovated and is home to a Conservative Synagogue. A complete reconstruction of the main synagogue that was destroyed by the Nazis is being planned for its original location.

Immediately after the war, the youth services building was the first synagogue in Berlin to be reopened in time for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year celebrations, in September 1945. This is primarily thanks to the initiative of the Jewish American soldier Harry Nowalsky. The Jewish Hungarian-American war photographer Robert Capa immortalized this special moment in a series of pictures for “Life” magazine. Some of these images have been displayed in the synagogue since 2016. In the years following its reopening in 1945, weddings, bar mitzvahs and religious instruction took place in the synagogue. In 1985, around 25 Torah curtains from various synagogues were found hidden in the attic and were restored. Some of them can be viewed today in the synagogue on Fraenkelufer. A memorial stone by Cornelia Lengfeld erected on the property boundary in 1989 reminds visitors of the destruction in the past. The building is a historical monument, and a memorial plaque on the embankment shows the earlier construction and tells the story of the site’s destruction.

On April 22, 1959, the former side wing of the synagogue was consecrated again, after significant reconstruction and has since been used for prayers and community life. There, rabbis of different affiliations take turns, from liberal to orthodox. In the beginning, the community of prayer consisted of survivors and returnees. Many of them lived and worked in the immediate vicinity of the synagogue. Over the years, immigrants from different countries also joined, and in the 1980s and 1990s, many immigrants came from the former Soviet Union. From the mid-2000s, the congregants became even more diverse and international: Many young Israelis, North and South Americans, people from different European countries and beyond have made Kreuzberg and Neukölln – and with it the Fraenkelufer Synagogue – their new home. In 2012 the Friends of the Fraenkelufer Synagogue (Freunde der Synagoge Fraenkelufer e. V.) was founded by supporters and members in order to actively shape community life and to organize cultural and educational events. The community has grown so much that the reconstruction of the original synagogue building as a Jewish community and cultural center is now being planned.

Board of Trustees for the reconstruction of the Fraenkelufer Synagogue © Boaz Arad Photography/cc-by-sa-4.0 Memorial plaque © OTFW/cc-by-sa-3.0 Memorial plaque © OTFW/cc-by-sa-3.0 © panoramio.com - Uli Herrmann/cc-by-sa-3.0 © Jörg Zägel/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Board of Trustees for the reconstruction of the Fraenkelufer Synagogue © Boaz Arad Photography/cc-by-sa-4.0
The synagogue is to be completely rebuilt in its original location in Kreuzberg. The project represents the first time that a fully complete reconstruction of a synagogue that was destroyed during the Nazi period in Berlin will come to fruition. Other projects in the city to date are partial or considered renovations. On the initiative of the SPD Politician Raed Saleh, the Förderverein Jüdisches Zentrum Synagoge Fraenkelufer e.V. set up a board of trustees that will deal intensively with the reconstruction. The 20-person committee attaches great importance to the fact that the new synagogue is based on the architectural style of the previous building. The committee includes Raed Saleh, Monika Herrmann, Michael Müller, as well as representatives of the Jewish and Muslim communities and people from business and the media. In order to actually make progress, donations must first be raised and the population’s understanding of this reconstruction must be deepened, especially in times of increasing anti-Semitism. The laying of the foundation stone is planned for 2023, 85 years after the destruction in the night of the pogrom. Completion is planned for the 110th anniversary of the synagogue in 2026.

The synagogue consisted of a main building with several auxiliary buildings on a triangular site, in which a weekday synagogue, official apartments and a building for the youth service were housed. Accordingly, it was not only intended to serve as a place of worship, but also as a community center and was used in this way in the early years. The synagogue building consisted of a three-aisled structure that offered space for 2,000 people. It was built as a pillar basilica, with the facade facing the Landwehr Canal structured with windows in the upper storey. As an architectural style, Beer chose a neoclassical style with elements from medieval and baroque buildings; a large portico with four Greek columns represented the dominant three-part entrance area. The smaller synagogue for youth services was structured by Doric half-columns. By the end of the 1970s, its facade was painted green and white. It is roughly half as high as the former main sanctuary building.

Read more on jg-berlin.org – Fraenkelufer Synagogue and Wikipedia Fraenkelufer Synagogue (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). Photos by Wikimedia Commons. If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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