1700 years of Jewish life in Germany
| Reading time: 3 minutes
The first evidence of Jewish life in Germany was in Cologne in 321, when the appointment of Jews to the city council was permitted. On the occasion of this anniversary, an online exhibition commemorates the history of Judaism in Germany.
E.t began in the year 321. At that time, Emperor Constantine allowed the Roman city of Cologne to appoint Jews to the city council. This date is evidence of 1700 years of Jewish life in Germany – for the history of a religion and a culture that even the National Socialists were not able to erase by murdering six million Jews. This Jewish culture in Cologne is to be celebrated in a festival year in 2021. The initiators of the festive year are the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany Josef Schuster, the Mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker and the former Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia Jürgen Rüttgers. Two years ago, the association “321 bis 2021” was founded in the parish hall of the Cologne synagogue, with the aim of pointing out the importance of Jewish culture.
This association already has an exhibition entitled “7Places. Seven Places in Germany “initiated (www.7places.org). The exhibition, which can only be seen on the Internet, was opened by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas last week – including online, of course. The reason for the early start of the commemorative year is the November pogroms of 1938, when synagogues burned all over Germany on the night of November 9-10. A date that marked the turning point towards the mass murder of the Jews of Europe. “7Places. Seven Places in Germany ”is a collaboration between the Center for Persecuted Arts in Solingen and the United Nations. The exhibition is based on a concept that aims to keep the memory of the Shoah alive and to contribute to the culture of remembrance.
The presentation of 7Places is simply structured by a timeline that starts in the key year 321 and ends in 2020. Places of remembrance are depicted on the basis of photos and documents that show how Jewish life was destroyed and where it was brought back to life. Take Halle as an example: there documents in 1184 mention a Jewish settlement within the city walls for the first time. Or Solingen 1568: In the minutes of a “grinding court”, a Jew is mentioned for the first time who forged swords on behalf of a Solingen blacksmith. Or Norderney 1797: Jewish bathers traveled there in the first decades after the seaside resort was founded. The examples show how much the exhibition organizers tried to achieve diversity.
The explanatory texts are catchy. One learns, for example, that in 1808 the Jews were granted temporary citizenship in Halle. And of course the attack on the synagogue in October 2019 is also recorded on the timeline. What the virtual exhibition also shows is how Jewish life has changed over the centuries. “Remembering means drawing the right conclusions for today and tomorrow from yesterday,” said Heiko Maas in his opening speech. The exhibition makes an important contribution to this.
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