Of Prussian Palaces and Nuremberg Synagogues

"The Nürnberg Hauptsynagogue needs to be rebuilt just the way it looked like before its destruction in 1938."

– comment under a youtube video of liturgical music by Louis Lewandowski (*1821 in Wreschen, Prussia; †1894 in Berlin).

Image: Westfassade des neuen Berliner Stadtschlosses by Doovele, CC0. Dated: 24 Mar 2017. Last viewed: 14 Dez 2017. Image: View from the Schutt Isle Nuremberg Bavaria Germany (circa 1890-1905), by Von Snapshots Of The Past, CC BY-SA 2.0. Uploaded: 11 Jan 2011. Last viewed: 14 Dec 2017.
The construction site of the of the Prussian Berlin city palace reconstruction in March 2017. Nuremberg’s Hauptsynagoge as seen from the Insel Schütt circa 1890-1905.

A reaction:

I disagree with the rebuilding of historical replicas.

To say nothing of the problematic narrative the idea of “history” can be in and of itself, my sense is that the desire to “rebuild” history arises out of an impulse to seek past utopias. Due to the problematic history of (past-)utopianism, giving in to this impulse is often ambivalent at best.

The second understandable but in my view risky aspect of “rebuilding” historical structures, particularly those from before the Shoah & World War II in Central and Eastern Europe, is that it can give us a false sense of security and/or of exoneration. I am deeply convinced that a culture of remembrance can not take the form of “backward” looking reenactment & historicization of the variety that crept into the popular mind in the last quarter of the 20th Century. This conviction was recently reaffirmed by current public dialog around the Peter Eisenman Holocaust Memorial in Berlin which is taking place in spite of, or perhaps because of a coeval, ongoing tsunami of post-Political-Turnaround so-called historical architectural restorations in Central and Eastern Europe.

By “rebuilding” no-longer existent monuments we literally pave over more recent events and disqualifies the present, whilst placing our vision of the future in the past.

Image: Westfassade des neuen Berliner Stadtschlosses by Doovele, CC0. Dated: 24 Mar 2017. URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58086141. Last viewed: 14 Dez 2017.

Image: View from the Schutt Isle Nuremberg Bavaria Germany (circa 1890-1905), by Von Snapshots Of The Past, CC BY-SA 2.0. Uploaded: 11 Jan 2011. URL: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12771325. Last viewed: 14 Dec 2017.

My own work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To material referenced in this blog, or to which links have been set, other licensing conditions may apply. Creative Commons Lizenzvertrag

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