Berlin new Synagogue

During Kristallnacht between 9 and 10 November 1938, several synagogues in Berlin (and the rest of Germany) were vandalized and destroyed. At Berlin’s new synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse, the Nazi mob vandalized the interior and then set fire to the synagogue. The next morning the mob returned, but this time they were stopped by the local police officer, Lieutenant Otto Bellgardt. Bellgardt prevented further vandalism of the synagogue, claiming that it was a historic landmark that should not be destroyed. The fire brigade was therefore allowed to put out the fire to save what could be saved. Bellgardt’s superior, Wilhelm Kruszfeld, defended Bellgardt’s actions and for this he was only punished with an oral reprimand from Berlin’s police chief Graf Helldorf. The synagogue was later destroyed during an allied bombing in November 1943.

Current status: Rebuilt with museum (2008).

Address: Oranienburger Strasse 29, 10117 Berlin.

Get there: Metro to Oranienburger Strasse Station.

My comment:

Anyone who wants to visit the synagogue must pass a rigorous security check reminiscent of those conducted at airports. There is still a threat to Jewish buildings and interests. During Kristallnacht, more than 1,000 synagogues (just under 100 in Vienna alone) were destroyed, 7,000 Jewish shops, about 30,000 Jews were put in concentration camps and just under 100 died. The majority of those who ended up in concentration camps were allowed to emigrate later in the year. In the days after Kristallnacht, Hermann Goering, head of the Four-year plans and thus head of the German economy, held, a meeting in which he ordered those present to take steps to once and for all exclude the Jews from the German economy. This meant that the Jewish property would be seized and they were imposed a fine of one billion Reich mark to cover the damage incurred during Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht was a radicalisation of Nazi Jewish politics and a step toward physical annihilation, although that wasn’t predetermined at the time.

Follow up in books: Gilbert, Martin: The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (1987).