Architects have finally finished an ambitious 20-year project to digitally reconstruct a monumental synagogue destroyed on Kristallnacht in November 1938.
The New Synagogue in the heart of the Polish city of Wrocław, which was then Breslau in Germany, has been painstakingly put together in 3D by professionals and experts as part of a larger series of works.
Built for Breslau’s large Jewish Reform community by Jewish architect Edwin Oppler between 1865 and 1872, it was the second biggest synagogue in the German-speaking world, and lauded as a classic example of neo-Romanesque architecture.
With its enormous dome and four octagonal towers, it was also the first Jewish building that defined Breslau’s skyline, yet it survived only two generations.
When the Nazis set fire to the synagogue, they also destroyed many of the congregation records and building documents, but after the war, the Central Jewish Historical Commission of Poland recovered any archival remnants when the German city of Breslau became the Polish city
In addition, the city archives in Hannover maintained a collection of Oppler’s papers and drawings, while the Jewish Museum of Berlin holds text from Rabbis Abraham Geiger and Manuel Joël, who worked with Oppler on the design.
At the height of the German empire, Breslau had a Jewish population of 20,000, behind only Berlin and Hamburg in size.
The newly-finished digital reconstruction was carried out as a project of the Institute of Architecture, Hochschule Mainz, and the work allows users to explore the synagogue via augmented reality.
Working alongside architects and conservationists were art students, who studied the building’s characteristics, including its stained glass windows.