Jewish Community House (Berlin)

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jewish community center
Entrance to the Jewish community center

Entrance to the Jewish community center

place Berlin-Charlottenburg
architect Dieter Knoblauch, Heinz Heise
Client Jewish Community Berlin
Architectural style Post-war modernity
Construction year 1958-1959
Coordinates 52 ° 30 '15.5 "  N , 13 ° 19' 42.6"  E Coordinates: 52 ° 30 '15.5 "  N , 13 ° 19' 42.6"  E
Portal of the former synagogue and warning column

The Jewish community hall in the Berlin district of Charlottenburg is a listed building. Like no other building, it symbolizes the new beginning of Jewish life in Berlin after the Second World War and the Holocaust .


Fasanenstrasse Synagogue

Destroyed Fasanenstrasse synagogue

In October 1905, the Jewish community decided to acquire the property at Fasanenstrasse 79/80 in order to build a synagogue for the rapidly growing community in the upscale west of Berlin, thereby meeting the community's need for representation. An architecture competition was announced for the building in 1907, which resulted in three first prizes awarded to the architects Ehrenfried Hessel (Berlin), C. F. W. Leonhardt (Frankfurt am Main) and Heger & Franke. Despite historical recourse, Hessel's design shows a clear departure from the previously built synagogues with their targeted reception of a nationally interpreted Middle Ages . The fact that Hessel followed an increasingly stronger basic attitude in Jewish cult buildings is also evident from the result of the competition: Architects such as Cremer & Wolffenstein , who had shaped Berlin synagogue construction for two decades, did not even make it onto the shortlist of the jury. In 1910 construction work began under the direction of the municipal master builder Johann Hoeniger . The Fasanenstrasse synagogue was inaugurated on August 26, 1912 .

It was set on fire in the November pogroms in 1938 and further destroyed in air raids in 1943 . In August 1939 the Jewish community was forced to sell the property to the Reichspost for 350,000  Reichsmarks . The community also had to cede the insured sum of the fire society to the Reichspost, which it was entitled to due to the damage of November 9, 1938. In 1957/1958 the ruins, like other synagogue ruins in Berlin, were torn down because after the Holocaust it was not considered possible that a synagogue of this size would ever be needed in Germany again.

New construction of the parish hall

Opening ceremony on September 27, 1959

In the Berlin underground, around 1,400 Berlin Jews survived the persecution and around 1,900 survivors returned to Berlin from the extermination camps, so that the first Jewish services after the Second World War took place in the summer of 1945. In addition, parallel to the division of Berlin in 1953, the division of the Jewish community took place: A small part of the members stayed in the former Soviet sector , while the greater part moved to the western sectors. The traditional premises of the municipal administration on Oranienburger Strasse were now in East Berlin . As a result, from 1953 the administration of the western community moved to the Jewish Hospital in Iranische Strasse. The hall of the former box house at Joachimsthaler Straße 13, where the Orthodox Synagogue Joachimsthaler Straße is located today, was used for large events .

In 1954, the property she was forced to sell in 1939 was returned to the Jewish community. A meeting between representatives of the Jewish community and the city of Berlin took place on November 9, 1956, whereupon the House of Representatives decided in 1957 to finance the demolition of the old synagogue and the construction of a new Jewish community center. To this end, an architecture competition was held in which seven Berlin architects, one Israeli and one Frankfurt architect, and the Bochum architects Dieter Knoblauch and Hans Heise took part.

Just three weeks after the submission deadline, on January 15, 1958, the architects Dieter Knoblauch and Hans Heise were commissioned with the construction on February 5, 1958. They also designed the New Synagogue in Essen in 1959 . The demolition work of the old synagogue lasted from 1957 to May 29, 1958, but the foundation stone for the new building was laid on November 10, 1957, 19 years after the destruction of the old synagogue, by the chairman of the Jewish community Heinz Galinski and shortly before elected mayor Willy Brandt . The cantor of the Jewish community Estrongo Nachama and the choir of the Pestalozzistrasse synagogue sang at the solemn ceremony .

On November 10, 1958, one year after the laying of the foundation stone and 20 years after the desecration of the old synagogue, the topping-out ceremony is celebrated, to which Galinski and Brandt speak again.

On September 27, 1959, Willy Brandt ceremoniously handed over the new building to the Jewish community by symbolically handing over the key to Heinz Galinski in the Great Hall. There were high representatives of the Senate of Berlin , the Federal Government , the Western Allies and many members of the Jewish community. Brandt said:

“In the Fasanenstrasse, on the place where one of the great synagogues of Berlin once stood, this parish hall is intended to show that our Jewish fellow citizens in Berlin are an integral part of our urban community. At the same time, it should be a memorial for future generations of the crimes that happened here. "

The fact that Jewish life in Germany had not really returned to the self-image of the Germans is shown, among other things, by the congratulatory telegram from the then Federal President Heinrich Lübke , who wrote:

“I congratulate the Jewish community in Berlin on the inauguration of their community center on Fasanenstrasse. My predecessor in office, our esteemed Professor Dr. Theodor Heuss , in his letter to you, branded the unfortunate November 9, 1938 as a day of crime and illegality. The re-establishment of the community center is an encouraging sign of the progressive consolidation of the new communities of our Jewish fellow citizens. With the return of the Jewish community to Fasanenstrasse, I hope that our coexistence will once again become a matter of course that characterized the neighborhood of Germans and Jews, especially on Berlin soil, before a barbaric section of history hit both peoples. "

Lübke speaks here of two peoples, the Germans and the Jews, and that unfortunate November 9th, a barbaric section of history that came over both peoples like a natural event.

Religious inauguration on October 1st, 1959

At the inauguration, a commemorative publication was published by the board of the community with the title Jüdisches Gemeindehaus Berlin - History of the Jews in Berlin and the building at Fasanenstrasse 79/80 , in which the board expresses the hope in its greeting

“[…] There will be an activation of conscious Jewish life in the new house and through its presence. But also to impartial and sincere discussions with the non-Jewish environment. "

On November 9, 1959, the memorial with the memorial wall with the names of the concentration and extermination camps was inaugurated. Commemorative events for the victims of National Socialism are held here every November 9th. As part of renovation work, it was moved to the forecourt in 2002.

Attempted bomb attack

On November 9, 1969, the left-wing extremist terrorist group Tupamaros West Berlin wanted to carry out a bomb attack on the commemorative event for the November pogroms of 1938. The bomb, which, according to the Berlin police, would have caused many victims among the 250 participants, did not detonate. She was by Peter Urbach been delivered, an undercover agent of the West Berlin intelligence service in the left scene . The bomb was discovered the next day by a cleaning lady. Among those present were the Governing Mayor of Berlin Klaus Schütz and the chairman of the Jewish community Heinz Galinski.


Torah scroll by Richard Hess
Memorial wall
Roll of honor

The reinforced concrete structure built by the Bochum architects Dieter Knoblauch and Hans Heise in the style of post-war modernism is reminiscent of the America House built by Bruno Grimmek in 1957 , which is barely 500 meters away on Hardenbergstrasse . The building consists of the large hall and the elongated administrative part, which are arranged in a cross shape. The entrance portal is located in the right part of the building and can be reached via the wide open staircase in front of it . It is dominated by the remains of the portal crown of the old synagogue. The rectangular multi-purpose hall with a capacity of 700 people is the heart of the house. With its three skylight domes, the windowless hall is reminiscent of the destroyed synagogue. The back is provided with a grid of stars of David , which, according to the architects' intention, should make the building recognizable as a building used by Jews. The administrative wing is closed off at the northern end by the free-standing remains of two buttresses of the old synagogue, which were placed against each other at the back, and which thus form a free-standing warning column.

In the foyer of the listed town hall there is a bust of Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) as well as memorial plaques for the murdered Foreign Minister of the Weimar Republic Walther Rathenau , the former community chairman Heinrich Stahl (1868–1942), the former chairman of the Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith Otto Hirsch (1885–1941), the founder of the children and youth Alijah Recha Freier (1892–1984) and the singers Richard Tauber (1891–1948) and Joseph Schmidt (1904–1942). A brass plaque commemorates the 8th German District of the independent order B'nai B'rith (Sons of the UOBB).

In the forecourt, a memorial wall bears the names of 22 ghettos, internment, concentration and extermination camps, in front of which an eternal flame burns .

Also in the forecourt, a memorial by Richard Hess was erected in 1987 in the form of a stylized Torah scroll, which reminds of the Jews as non-equal strangers during the Nazi era . The quote next to the figure of the Torah scroll is: "A law be for the citizen and for the stranger who is among you." It comes from the fourth book of Moses, 15:16.

Since 2010 there has been a plaque of honor in the forecourt to express thanks to the war veterans of the Jewish community with the note: “They gave their lives against the Nazi tyranny”.

While the former synagogue was built into the front of the houses on Fasanenstrasse, the parish hall is set back around 20 meters from the street front. This creates a forecourt on which the Torah scroll , the memorial wall and the plaque of honor stand. A part is used as a parking lot.


From 1959 to 2006 the house was the seat of the Berlin Jewish Community. In July 2006, this completely relocated its headquarters to the Centrum Judaicum in the Mitte district . Today it houses the Jewish Adult Education Center, founded on March 12, 1962 on the initiative of Heinz Galinski, one of the largest Jewish specialist libraries in the country, a senior citizens' club and the kosher restaurant “Noah's Ark”. The Great Hall is used for events, exhibitions and gatherings, but also for family celebrations such as weddings or funeral services or for Jewish holidays. Every year in November, the Jewish Culture Days have been taking place in the premises since 1986 with music, literature and discussion events, each with a different city as its thematic focus. The hall is also used as a prayer room.

As part of the Jewish Culture Days 2009, an exhibition developed by Esther Slevogt on the 50-year history of the Jewish Community House was shown, for which the brochure The Ruins of the Past Are Built Up by You: The Jewish Community House on Fasanenstrasse was published.

See also


  • Esther Slevogt: You build up the ruins of the past: The Jewish community center on Fasanenstrasse . Jewish miniatures. 1st edition. Hentrich and Hentrich Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-941450-06-6 .
  • Hans Gerd Sellenthin: Jewish Community House Berlin - History of the Jews in Berlin and the building at Fasanenstrasse 79/80 . Festschrift on the occasion of the inauguration of the Jewish community center. Ed .: Jewish Community Berlin. Berlin 1959.

Web links

Commons : Jewish Community House  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. LDL Berlin: Jewish parish hall with portal of the former synagogue and reminder column
  2. ^ Rudolf Bothe, Berlin Museum (ed.): Synagogues in Berlin . Part 1: On the history of a destroyed architecture . Willmuth Arenhövel, Berlin 1983, ISBN 3-922912-04-4 , pp. 129 .
  3. According to Goebbels' diary, Werner Wächter was instructed to have it smashed . In: Der Spiegel . No. 29 , 1992 ( online ).
  4. Esther Slevogt: You build up the ruins of the past: The Jewish community center on Fasanenstrasse . Jewish miniatures. 1st edition. Hentrich and Hentrich Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-941450-06-6 , pp. 34 .
  5. Esther Slevogt: You build up the ruins of the past: The Jewish community center on Fasanenstrasse . Jewish miniatures. 1st edition. Hentrich and Hentrich Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-941450-06-6 , pp. 18 .
  6. Regina Leßner : 50 years ago: Attack on the Jewish community hall in Berlin - Everyone is talking about the weather - We don't: From protest to terror. (mp3 audio, 49.7 MB, 54:26 min) In: Deutschlandfunk broadcast “Feature”. 2008, accessed November 7, 2019 . Carsten Dippel: The bomb that didn't ignite - attack on the Berlin Jewish community center in '69. (mp3 audio, 9.2 MB, 10:03 minutes) In: Deutschlandfunk broadcast “Tag für Tag”. November 7, 2019, accessed November 7, 2019 .
  7. Gerd Koenen : Rainer, if you only knew! The attack on the Jewish community on November 9, 1969 has now been solved - almost. What was the role of the state? In: Berliner Zeitung . July 6, 2005, accessed November 7, 2019 .
  8. roll of honor in Berlin, FUTURE newsletter of the Central Council of Jews in Germany 7/10, p.5 (PDF) caused by couple Bonnenberg
  9. ^ Jewish Adult Education Center