This splendid building is on Berlin’s Oranienburger Strasse. It has had a tragic history that continues to this day, as is evident from the fact that armed policemen stand guard over its entrance right round the clock and visitors must pass through a metal detector before being admitted.
The “Neue Synagoge” (New Synagogue) no longer acts as the main synagogue of Berlin but it contains prayer rooms and the Jewish Centre – a research facility and museum relating to the local Jewish community.
The building is a reconstruction of what was originally built here between 1859 and 1866. It was a highly innovative design that was a masterpiece of 19th century civil engineering, particularly in its use of ironwork. It its heyday the synagogue could accommodate 3,000 worshippers.
Everything changed on the night of 9th November 1938 when organized protests against the Jewish community took place that have gone done in history as “Kristallnacht”, the “night of broken glass”. The synagogue was badly damaged, with more destruction following due to Allied bombing during World War Two. The ruins were completely demolished in 1958.
Reconstruction began in 1988 and was completed in 1995. The building now looks from the outside just as it did when first built, including the splendid eye-catching dome.
Despite the much greater tolerance towards Jews (and all religious minorities) that is evident in Berlin today, the sad fact remains that anti-Semitism is still rife – hence the armed guards outside the door.