Museum Art Gallery on the Promenade
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Simply click on any thumbnail photo below to see a larger version of the painting, along with a description of the former synagogue.

  Aachen, Germany     Amsterdam, Netherlands     Baden-Baden, Germany     Bielefeld, Germany     Belz, Ukraine     Bochum, Germany     Bratislava, Slovakia  
  Breslau (Wroclaw), Germany     Bruchsal, Germany     Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), Ukraine     Danzig, Germany (Gdansk, Poland)     Essen, Germany     Katowice, Poland     Königsberg, Germany (Kaliningrad, Russia)  



The Lost Synagogues of Europe

images © Andrea Strongwater



Aachen, Germany: Aachen is a German city on the border with Belgium. The Jewish community here dates to the early 9th century. This synagogue was built in 1862 on what was then Promenadenstrasse. On the portal was a Biblical inscription, “For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” It was destroyed on Kristallnacht and torn down. There is now a new synagogue on the site for the small Jewish community of Aachen and a memorial plaque for the old synagogue. The street has been re-named.



Amsterdam, Netherlands: This is the synagogue that was built on Linnaeusstraat. The architect was Jacob Baars who was Jewish. It was designed for 300 families. The contractors and workers were Jewish. The style of the building was local with decorative brickwork. The building was looted during WWII. There were no services held after 1956 and the building was demolished in 1962. The copper grillwork and stained glass were sent to Ramat Gan in Israel.



Baden-Baden, Germany: Although Jews lived in Baden-Baden as early as the 16th century, the community was not organized until1890. The synagogue was built in 1897-1898. On November 10, 1938, as part of the Kristallnacht destruction, Jewish men of the city were rounded up and marched to the synagogue where they were forced to remove their hats, enter and listen to anti-Semitic lectures by SS men. Jewish men were forced to read Mein Kampf from the podium and to sing the Nazi anthem. They were beaten, loaded into trucks and taken to Dachau. The mob set fire to the synagogue and the stone remains were used to pave a road.



Belz, Ukraine: Belz is a small town currently in Western Ukraine which had a large Hasidic community. This is their synagogue and study center, opened in 1843. The Jewish community in Belz dates from the 14th century. In 1665 the Jews of Belz were given equal rights and duties of citizenship. Before World War l there were 6,100 inhabitants in Belz - more than half were Jewish. In late 1939, the Nazis invaded Belz and set about destroying the synagogue. Fire and dynamite were unsuccessful and they finally conscripted Jewish men to take apart the three-foot walls brick by brick.



Bielefeld, Germany: This is the synagogue on Turnerstrasse built in 1905 in Bielefeld, a town in Westphalia, Germany. It could seat eight hundred people.




Bochum, Germany: Bochum is a city in the Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany near Hanover. Jews were first recorded living in Bochum in 1349. In 1933 there were 1152 Jews supporting two synagogues, a cheder, a Hebrew School, eight benevolent societies and cultural organizations. One synagogue catered to Polish Jews living in Bochum who were expelled in October 1938. On November 9, 1938, the main synagogue was set on fire and allowed to burn to the ground. Bochum, along with neighboring Herne and Rechkinghausen, has seen an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Republics. These Jews erected a new synagogue in 1955.




Bratislava, Slovakia: This is one of the Reform synagogues of Bratislava, built 1893-1895 to the designs of Dezso Milch. Bratislava was the leading center of Judaism in Slovakia. In 1927 there were eleven synagogues, six prayer houses, six schools including a famous Yeshiva and eleven houses of study for the Orthodox community and two synagogues and two schools for the Reformists. The first record of Jews is from 1251 and the first synagogue of Bratislava dates to 1335. This synagogue survived the Nazis but was torn down by the Communists to make way for a highway. A plaque has been erected along with a monument to the murdered Jews.




Breslau (Wroclaw), Poland: The Reform Temple built 1875-1872 was vandalized on Kristallnacht, November 9-10,1938 and demolished. The synagogue was designed by architect Edwin Oppler. The first record of Jews in Wroclaw is a tombstone from 1203. Over half of the post WWl Jewish population of 23,000 had emigrated by 1941 when the remaining Jews were deported, group by group, to concentration camps. Deportations ended in 1943 and few Jews remain in the 21st century.



Bruchsal, Germany: Jews are first mentioned in Bruchsal in 1288. This synagogue was built in 1881 on Freidrichstrasse 78. It was restored in 1923 and destroyed during Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938. At that time, the Jewish population was declining from its 1885 high of 750 people, or 6% of the total population. The last Jews of Bruchsal were deported to Gurs concentration camp in October 1940. The ruined synagogue was torn down in 1941. The site is now home to a firehouse and memorial plaque.



Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), Ukraine: In the style of the Berlin Oranienburgerstrasse synagogue – a domed Moorish Revival synagogue built in 1873. Designed by architect Julian Zachariewicz, the synagogue was in Czernowitz, the largest city of Northern Bukovina, Austria-Hungary when it was built.




Danzig, Germany (Gdansk, Poland): This synagogue was completed in 1887 as a Reform synagogue. It held over 2000 people for services. The entire building had electric heating and lighting which was very rare at the time. It was financed by five reform congregations and built by Ende and Boeckman from Berlin. The torah scrolls of the Old Synagogue and two other congregations were moved to this synagogue and the Eternal Light lit on September 15, 1887. Attendees to the opening ceremonies included the city council, rabbis and congregants. This synagogue was a center for Reform Judaism housing a museum and many concerts and lectures. In August 1938, Nazi sympathizers invaded the synagogue and trampled the torahs scrolls prompting the leaders to ship the archives to Jerusalem, the library to Vilnius and the museum to the United States. The American Joint Distribution Committee purchased the ritual collection which was sent to the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. The organs were sold to Krakow, candlesticks to Warsaw and benches to Nowy Port. The last service was held on April 15, 1939. The building was sold to the senate of Danzig when the congregation could no longer afford to keep it due to the restrictions put on Jews. The Nazi dominated government hung a banner on the building: “Come, lovely May, and free us from the Jews.” On May 2, 1939 the building was demolished. The site remains vacant.





Essen, Germany: This synagogue is on Steelerstrasse and was finished in 1914. Isaac Hirschland, a prominent banker, secured government approval for a synagogue on this prominent corner. The Jewish community sponsored a design competition in 1908 that was won by Edmund Korner. Korner’s design received critical acclaim for being well adapted to a difficult site. On Kristallnacht, November 9-10, 1938, the interior and part of the building were destroyed. The building proved too solid to totally demolish. Parts were later sent to New York City where the Habonim Synagogue has built a memorial around the remnants. The partial shell was used as an industrial museum until a fire in 1979 when the remaining Jews successfully lobbied to turn the building into a memorial to the Jews slaughtered during the Nazi regime.





Katowice, Poland: Great Synagogue. Built in 1900 and inaugurated on October 12, 1900. The synagogue was designed by Ignatz Grunfeld. The main chamber held 1120 people for worship. It hosted the World Zionist Congress in 1901. After the invasion of Poland, German troops set fire to the synagogue on September 4, 1939. Today there is a square on the site named Synagogue Square. In 1988 a small monument was erected to pay tribute to the Jews who died during World War ll.





Königsberg, Germany (Kaliningrad, Russia): There were six synagogues here in 1938. All were destroyed during Kristallnacht, November 1938. This was the Orthodox synagogue completed in 1896. The first synagogue in Königsberg was a chapel built in 1680 outside of city jurisdiction. In 1704 the Jews formed a congregation and acquired a cemetery. In 1722 laws were passed defining their existence. Synagogues were built and destroyed in the 1700’s and 1800’s. The community had a constitution written in 1811 that was revised several times.









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