On this day: Berlin’s monumental Neue Synagoge opens with a ceremony marking the Jewish New Year (September 5th 1866)
Consecrated in the presence of Prussian minister president and future German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, the Neue Synagoge once served Berlin’s thriving Jewish community as one of the largest synagogues in the world.
A pioneering example of iron construction, highly unusual for the time, the synagogue is still recognisable by its distinctive Moorish style, colourful brick facade, and the three bulbous gilded domes that crown the structure.
Impressionist painter and president of the Prussian Academy of Arts Max Liebermann was once a member of the congregation. Albert Einstein performed two violin concertos metformin online inside the building for charity in 1930. The world’s first female rabbi Regina Jonas lectured at the synagogue before being deported to Auschwitz and murdered.
Ransacked by SA troops in November 1938 during the November Pogrom (Kristallnacht), the building survived, owing to the intervention of a Berlin police lieutenant, Otto Bellgardt. Drawing his pistol, Bellgardt managed to drive away the attackers, although not before the synagogue’s Torah scrolls had been desecrated and furniture destroyed.
Severely damaged by fire in 1943, following a RAF air raid on the Nazi capital, it was finally restored, reconsecrated and re-opened in 1995 – fifty years after the defeat of National Socialism in Europe.