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Alte Synagoge

There had been a Jewish community in Chemnitz since 1885. They gathered for their services in rented rooms and a temporary prayer hall. The rapid growth of the community ultimately led to an impressive synagogue being built on the Kassberg hill, which was inaugurated on 7th March 1899. Wenzel Bürger, a young architect from Chemnitz, developed the plans for a neo-Romanesque centralplan building with an entrance hall at the front. The centre of the main synagogue was marked by an eight-sided crossing dome, whose polygonal spire corresponded with the roofs on the low towers on the main façade. The colourful nature of the building was new and unusual in the cityscape, and was effectively created by the contrast between the red brickwork and the green glazed roofing. The effect of the interior was just as magnificent, with rich furnishings including wall paintings, stained glass, organ and Torah shrine.

After the National Socialists seized power in 1933, the Jewish population in Chemnitz also faced repressive measures, that were publicly demonstrated in the destruction of the synagogue by arson on 9th November, 1938. In the days that followed, the ruins were demolished and cleared, for which the Jewish community had to cover the costs themselves. In the years that followed, almost all members of the congregation were deported to the extermination camps in the east. For the few Jewish people that survived and returned to Chemnitz, a new community centre was built on Stollberger Strasse in 1961. Today, the new Chemnitz Synagogue, inaugurated in 2002, stands in its place. A pillar was erected at the old site in 1988 to commemorate the historic  lace of worship and its violent end.

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