Restoration of Munich’s modernist Reichenbachstrasse synagogue ready to go forward

After years of delays, a complete restoration of the Reichenbachstrasse synagogue in Munich is going ahead, thanks grants from the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

Designed by the architect Gustav Meyerstein, the synagogue, which stands in a courtyard hidden from the street, was built in modernist Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) style in 1931 — just two years before Hitler came to power. Severely damaged on Reichspogromnacht (Kristallnacht) in 1938 and further damaged by bombing during World War II, it was restored and reopened in 1947 and served for decades as the synagogue used by the Munich Jewish community.

It was closed after the modern new synagogue, Ohel Jakob, was dedicated in 2006 as part of a complex including a JCC and the Munich Jewish Museum, and has since fallen into disrepair.

The Bavarian Culture Ministry announced in June a €2,832,000 grant for the restoration. The estimated total cost of the restoration is €9 million, and already one year ago, the Suedeutsche Zeitung reported that the federal government and city of Munich had also each pledged €3 million.

“The former synagogue on Reichenbachstrasse in Munich is a historical testimony to the National Socialist reign of terror,” Bavarian Culture Minister Bernd Sibler said, announcing the Bavarian state grant in June. “With the renovation we are strengthening the culture of remembrance in our country and helping to ensure that this injustice is not forgotten.”

The Bavarian grant announcement said that “due to the structural condition, a complete repair of the monument is planned.” The Munich Jewish Museum reported that work is expected to begin in the spring — delayed because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

We reported already back in 2013 on plans to restore the synagogue and the establishment of an association to save the building, thanks to the efforts of prominent Jewish cultural activist Rachel Salamander. Salamander and the Association will oversee the restoration project, according to the Munich Jewish Museum, and the building will be used as a cultural space.

The renovation will include restoring the original turquoise and red colors of the synagogue’s interior.

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