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Two Jewish Cemeteries in Eastern Germany Desecrated
, December 1, 2008

According to the Associated Press (Nov. 17) two Jewish cemeteries in Gotha and Erfurt, both cities in the Eastern German State of Thuringia, were desecrated. Police reported a pig's head and an anti-Semitic banner left at the gate of a cemetery in Gotha, and that several glasses containing a red blood-like liquid were thrown over the cemetery gate. A memorial plaque at the Erfurt cemetery was also covered in a red liquid.

(This case is getting a lot of attention, and such acts should be reported, and noted with disgust.  I only wish that even a fraction of the attention would be given to those occasions - that happen daily - when more and more local (non-Jews) in Germany, Poland and elsewhere, are caring for cemeteries. – editor)

5 Millionth Visitor to Berlin Jewish Museum
By Samuel D. Gruber

ISJM, September 29, 2008

Ruth Ellen Gruber writes on her blog that the Jewish Museum in Berlin has received its 5 millionth visitor since the museum opened in September 2001. Ruth writes "even before its formal opening, the empty building was a tourist draw because of its distinctive design by Daniel Libeskind."

According to the Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel The museum is the fifth most popular museum in Berlin, with 733,000 visitors in 2007 -- including 140,000 under the age of 18. (The Pergamon Museum holds the top spot with 1.3 million visitors). About two-thirds of visitors to the Jewish Museum come from outside of Germany.

The Museum is many things to many people. For some, it remains the most compelling Holocaust monument in Germany, and there remain many (sometimes I can be counted among them) who wish the building had remained empty as a memorial and that the Peter Eisenman-designed monument had not been built. Indeed, a good number of those 5 million visitors came to the building even before the museum was installed. Most of the time I wish, as do many visitors and staff, that the Libeskind design could have been more accommodating to the museum exhibits. I have not visited the Museum for several years, but my overall impression was of a permanent exhibit that was contorted and disjointed, in large part because of the difficult spaces in which it was forced. But that too was the result of an unclear and uncertain story line. Whose Jews to commemorate? Berlin's or Germany's or Europe's? What history? Big cities or small towns? Rabbis or cafe raconteurs? What was important - history or art? Originals or replicas? I know that the staff has been trying hard for years to work this all out. I hope on my next visit to GermanyHistory Museum, rather than the expressive and haunting spaces of the Zigzag. to have time to revisit and reconsider. As for the Libeskind space, in the end the staff's best efforts will have be confined to the more traditional exhibition spaces of the old

Libeskind's type of space worked well in Osnabruck, where a small number of works by Felix Nussbaum are given lots of space, and the architecture is part of the narrative. To me, this small space remains Libeskind's most successful work. It is appropriately disconcerting and disorienting, but somehow remains humane. Like Berlin, Libeskind's Imperial War Museum in Manchester, England is difficult to navigate, but the disorientation there is in part due to murky lighting and unnecessary special effects, that for me undermined both architecture and exhibitions. At Manchester, the best experience was actually the liberating one of climbing on the outside of the building. I look forward to a trip to San Francisco, to see what museum curators have to confront with there.

Click here for a slideshow of photos of the Berlin Jewish Museum by Samuel Gruber (2003)

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Friday, June 20, 2008
Architects chosen to design Cologne Jewish Museum on site of ancient synagogue
by Samuel D. Gruber
Another Jewish Museum is planned for Europe, this time in the ancient city of Cologne, the site of the oldest physical remains of a Jewish community in Germany.  The new museum project, which has been discussed for some time, received an official launch on June 13th when the prominent and critically acclaimed German architectural firm of Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch was chosen winner of an international competition for the museum design.  Among the firm's many projects are the recently completed (2007) Jewish Museum and synagogue in Munich. The decision is not yet final, the town senate will decide in August. There remain many concerns about the financing of the project.

Opening of the New Glass Courtyard at the Jewish Museum Berlin
ISJM, September 17, 2007
Berlin - The new Glass Courtyard at the Jewish Museum Berlin will be opened on the evening of 25 September. Addresses will be held by Museum Director W. Michael Blumenthal, Minister of State Bernd Neumann, and the architect Daniel Libeskind. Prominent figures from the worlds of politics, business, and culture will attend.
The Jewish Museum Berlin would also like to celebrate gaining this new, attractive events venue with the Berliners the weekend following the opening. The opening of the Glass Courtyard to the public will take place on 29 and 30 September, when the Museum invites visitors to view the new room, visit all exhibitions, and take part in guided tours free of charge. Furthermore, Michael Nyman, the composer famed for the soundtrack for "The Piano," will perform "Ein Song für Charlotte Salomon" (A Song for Charlotte Salomon) in a concert on 29 September. A press invitation to the public opening and the concert as well as further information will be sent out in the near future.
press releases

Restored synagogue marks Jewish revival in Germany

By Catherine Bosley and Adam Williams
Washington Times, September 1, 2007
Berlin - Germany's biggest synagogue, a century-old landmark that was torched by the Nazis and neglected in communist East Berlin, reopened its doors yesterday in the latest sign of the country's Jewish revival.
link to article

Germany's Biggest Synagogue Reopens
Spiegel, August 31, 2007
Berlin - In a sign of the renaissance of Germany's Jewish community, the country's biggest synagogue is to re-open this Friday in Berlin. But the presence of armed guards outside brings to mind the specters of the past and the dangers that still persist.
link to article

 Links Minimize

Germany - Forgotten Jewish Modernist Architects and Their Creations
Ruth Ellen Gruber writes on here blog about various links to sites about 20th century German-Jewish architects and their works. "…Here's a link to a terrific web site about Jewish modernist architects in Germany and their work, linked to a publication as the Pentagram Papers 37. It's based on the work of the late Haifa-born architect and scholar Myra Warhaftig, who published extensive material about them in her book, German Jewish Architects Before and After 1933: The Lexicon.  Little is known anymore about the more than 450 Jewish architects who were active in Germany before 1933 -- in November of that year, Jews were banned from the state-run artists guild, membership in which was mandatory in order for an architect to work. The web site examines 43 of them, providing biographical information and posting pictures of some of their buildings, many of which are still standing. Another web site devoted to these architects also arranges walking tours to some of their buildings.  Warhaftig died in March at the age of 78 - see her obituary here, and also an article in

Jewish Museum Berlin
The Libeskind building, originally erected as a wing to the Berlin Museum, now houses an independent entity - the Jewish Museum Berlin.  The foundation depicts not just the history of Berlin's Jews, but  also addresses Jewish history throughout Germany, as de facto national Jewish museum.

Synagogues in Germany
A Virtual Reconstruction  Images from an exhibition with links to additional information.

Synagogues in Berlin

Cyndi's List of Geneaological Links for Germany
A comprehensive listing of useful sites for geneaologists.

Stammbaum, a Journal of German-Jewish Genealogical Research
Established in 1993, Stammbaum is a publication to further German-Jewish genealogy. It is an English-language publication that supports research and publication of reliable family histories.

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