Germany reopens biggest national synagogue

Posted Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:38pm AEST

Germany’s biggest synagogue has reopened after a major restoration, in a defiant symbol of the rebirth of Jewish life in the city where the Nazis planned the Holocaust.

A special ceremony was held at the century-old red brick building in East Berlin, which narrowly avoided being destroyed in the Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when Adolf Hitler’s followers torched Jewish homes, businesses and places of worship.

More than 1,000 guests, including elderly Holocaust survivors confined to wheelchairs, entered the synagogue past airport-style metal detectors and dozens of police officers, some with automatic weapons.


Historic Berlin synagogue reopens
Kate Connolly in Berlin
Friday August 31, 2007
The Guardian

Germany’s largest synagogue, an architectural and historical landmark in the centre of Berlin, will reopen today after extensive restoration work.
The red-brick Rykestrasse synagogue is to be reopened in the presence of former members who were forced to flee Nazi Germany. It was set on fire on Kristallnacht on November 9 1938, when synagogues and Jewish businesses were attacked and destroyed on Nazi orders.

Rykestrasse was saved from the complete devastation which befell many of the city’s 170 synagogues because it was in a residential area and the authorities ordered the fire to be put out.


Germany’s Largest Synagogue Reopens in Berlin

Berlin’s Ryke Street synagogue, Germany’s largest, completed its remarkable return to its former glory Friday when it was reopened after extensive reconstruction.

Nearly 70 years after it was badly damaged in the 1938 Nazi pogrom known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), Germany’s largest synagogue reopened in Berlin Friday after being restored to its original glory over the past year at a cost of 5 million euros ($7 million).

Built in 1904 in the neo-Romanesque style, the Ryke Street synagogue was attacked during the infamous night of violence during which Adolf Hitler’s followers torched Jewish homes, businesses and places of worship. While the synagogue was desecrated, it was not burned down, apparently because the Nazis feared causing damage to the surrounding buildings.

Now, after a colorful history which also saw it fall under communist rule, the synagogue has been reborn as symbol of the rebirth of the Jewish community in the German capital.