MAGnEUROPA Unsichtbare Synagogen

Kultur Aktiv e.V.

Štěpán Bartoš

Helena Jaklová

Simon Wolf

German, Czech

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© Kultur Aktiv e.V. | 2021


During certain periods of the last century, two criminal regimes, which caused immeasurable personal and material damage, ruled over the territory where the Czech Republic is now a state entity. Since 1938 it was German National Socialism and in the post-war period Communism imported from the Soviet Union. Both totalitarianisms had several things in common. One of them was anti-Semitism – whether loudly vulgarly declared in Germany or partially disguised as a fight against Zionism in Stalinist Czechoslovakia. 
The tragedies it caused for millions of people are now common knowledge. In addition to wasted lives, this period also brought great damage to Jewish material culture.
 Since the Middle Ages, synagogues have been at the centre of the religious, educational and social life of Jewish communities. The 19th century in particular brought with it a considerable emancipation, which manifested itself outwardly in remarkable architectural achievements, often inspired by the diverse architectural styles of the past.
 The synagogue thus became an unmissable part of the urban design of many Czech towns and villages. Sometimes as a stately temple at a prestigious address, elsewhere and more often as a modest building in the Jewish quarter of the village.
 However, already the first half of the XX century brought a certain decline. Some Jewish communities disappeared, religious life was concentrated in larger congregations, and many synagogues no longer served religious purposes or were used only sporadically. A decisive turning point was the Nazi pogrom in November 1938, known as “Kristallnacht”, which in an instant caused irreparable damage to the buildings and especially to the interior furnishings, which were desecrated and destroyed in what was then already the seceded territory of Czechoslovakia.