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Last Updated: Friday, 31 August 2007, 21:28 GMT 22:28 UK
German synagogue: Your views
Many people have e-mailed the BBC about the re-opening of Germany's biggest synagogue in Berlin. Below, you'll find a selection of comments from around the world and, to start with, the views of one person - Alfred Fiks - who experienced Kristallnacht, on the night in 1938 when the synagogue was set ablaze by Nazi sympathisers.

Alfred Fiks, Escazu, Costa Rica

The current German government can only be admired and applauded for their earnest efforts to overcome the terrible Nazi legacy. My parents and I experienced Kristallnacht - the night of the broken glass - in Berlin in November 1938, when I was seven-years-old.

I remember the broken glass from a smashed window falling into my tomato soup!

The Rykestrasse synagogue, Berlin
The synagogue was set ablaze on Kristallnacht in 1938.

The government at that time allowed Nazi hooligans to break and enter Jewish-owned businesses and homes, vandalise, loot and burn property with impunity - with the police turning a blind eye.

It was named Kristallnacht after the many crystal chandeliers broken in Jewish homes.

We had a housekeeper - Marie - who looked after me because my mother was working in the store with my father.

Marie was in the house with me, and one of my friends - I think his name was Felix - was visiting. When the hoodlums started banging on the door and breaking some windows, I remember Marie hid us under my parents bed.

The hoodlums - I remember the Brown Shirts and some unemployed thugs - came in, looking for my father who was hiding next door in a friend's apartment.

They pulled us out from under the bed and were quite disappointed to find two seven-year-old kids!

After Kristallnacht, innocent Berliners like my father had to go into hiding to save their lives merely because of their religious identity

I was scared, of course, and puzzled. My father was a very law-abiding citizen, so I couldn't figure out why we were being singled out that way.

Sure enough, it was because we were Jews. I was aware of this. Shortly before then, I had been watching a military parade that included the Hitler Youth. I felt the attraction of the parade just like the other kids but I was told my presence was not welcome. I was shoed away.

After Kristallnacht, innocent Berliners like my father had to go into hiding to save their lives merely because of their religious identity.

His experiences can be found in a 21-page handwritten letter now contained in the archives of the Jewish Museum, Berlin.

I lived in Berlin till 1939. My mother and I got out on one of the last trains to Paris in June of 1939.

I didn't know this particular synagogue. My parents were not at all religious. We went to a synagogue once a year on Uhlandstrasse in what was to become West Berlin.

Exterior of the Rykestrasse synagogue
The red-brick synagogue is in the east of the city

I went back to Berlin a number of years ago. I don't have trouble with Germans my age or younger - it's the older generation I worry about, but they're disappearing.

I'm wondering if there are enough Jews left in Germany now to justify such a big synagogue. The Turkish community has replaced the Jewish one.

I'm not a religious person - I believe all churches, synagogues, mosques should probably be turned into museums or schools.

But nevertheless, I'd be keen to see it, and would like to go back to Berlin to see the Jewish Museum there.



Your emails

It is a phoenix rising from the flames of Nazi Europe. A beacon of hope and a permanent memorial to the six million souls murdered by the Nazis. A triumph over evil, it shows the courage of the Jewish people. Possibly one of the biggest and most important events for world Jewry since the inauguration of the State of Israel.
Andy Martin, London, UK

I would like to congratulate the Jewish community from all over the world for this symbolic act! Magnificent!
Ghassan, Amsterdam

I applaud the reopening of the Synagogue. This is a great thing for freedom of religion and the respect of traditions and beliefs of all people.
George N Liberis, Pomona, NY

This is a true piece of democracy at work - albeit rather late - and as a non-Jew I still feel moved and will definitely go and visit the next time I'm in Berlin.
Fred, London

The re-opening of the Berlin synagogue - made possible by the efforts of not only the Berlin Jewish community but the generous contribution of the city of Berlin and its citizens - symbolizes the tolerance, understanding and care for people of all religions that should exist throughout the world.
Cantor Mark Britowich, Tarzana, California, USA

This is an historic moment for freedom of religion and expression. Perhaps now the Turkish Muslim community can build their mosque without all the unnecessary opposition they have been facing.
Blair Wahlberg, New York, USA

This is indeed great news and shall go a long way in creating harmony amongst different cultures, faiths and religions, not only in the great city of Berlin but all over Germany. I congratulate the architects Ruth Golan and Kay Zareh for their wonderful works for having used three surviving black and white photographs of the original building to recreate the original appearance of the synagogue. I hope and pray that the governments of Israel and USA shall now reciprocate in kind and cash and allow the re-building of thousands if not millions of destroyed mosques, Muslim schools, colleges, universities and other similar Islamic learning centers in the occupied land and territories, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Aamir A. Salaria, St. Louis, Missouri, USA

To me, the opening of the synagogue is an event I thought would never be possible. I was in Germany a few years ago. I was called a dirty Jew by a woman with her two young children. I was shocked to feel such hatred after all that had happened to my fellow Jews. I had promised myself I would never go back to Germany but now with this temple opening I would give it a second chance.
Eliezer M Rivero, New York City, USA

The reopening of a building is only made viable when there are people to use them. The reopening of this synagogue is a symbol of the renewal of German Jewry. May its people and its buildings go from strength to strength.
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Watford, UK

Amazing what can happen a mere short 15 years after the fall of the Soviet system. Lets make it a museum though, rather than a place of religious significance.
Scott, Leeds, UK

It brings hope to all people who have been persecuted and alienated.
Josh Whisler, Washington DC

A great day for all.
Massood Sebghati, Stockholm, Sweden

It is interesting to me that Germany, a secular state, is using public funds to help rebuild a synagogue. Here in the USA, many would decry that as a "lack of separation of church and state". It is a beautiful building, and I am happy to see that Germany is willing to restore it without getting snarled into inaction by a "church vs. state" debate.
Mark Wallace, Rockledge, Florida, USA

It means Germans are still under pressure from their past and Jews receive special treatment because of that.
Tauseef Zahid, London

A great celebration for the Jewish community and Germany. Berlin is to be commended for this new opening!
Dan Sparkman, Yokohama, Japan

This is a stunning victory for German Jewry and I hope they all get to enjoy it. I've no plans to visit Germany at the moment but if and when I do, the synagogue will certainly be one of my first stops.
Jeffrey Rollin, Ashington, Northumberland

Wow, what a fantastic article to read when you first wake up! It's so good to see that Germany's largest synagogue is now reopened, especially in a country in which Jewish culture was threatened with extinction.
Christopher Smith, Chicago, Il, USA

On a recent visit to Rome it was wonderful to visit an original Synagogue and all the remains that go back 2000 years. It is a shame that this will not be possible in Germany where there was such a rich heritage of Jewish Cultural life. However, at least this will go some way to reminding people of the history that our people were a part of. Furthermore, an acknowledgement of the barbaric history of Germany and the way a generally intelligent population can be persuaded by madness.
Suzanne Richmond, Uxbridge, Greater London

It is touching that this synagogue is opened. It is important that Germany continue on this path of openness. I think Germany might be the world's best example of trying to repent for its past. Other countries, Austria and the Baltic States most notably, which collaborated strongly with Nazi Germany, somehow got away with a free collective identity, and yet, I am not sure that they are better for it, as they deal with modern-day issues of immigration, nationalism and xenophobia.
Mira, Canada

It's a beautiful symbol of culture & architecture and a sign of ongoing normalisation and catharsis alike. The revival of the synagogue contributes to make Jewish traditions in Germany as natural again as it used to be over many centuries.
Christoph Eich, Göttingen, Germany

The reopening of this synagogue restores faith to me. My family came from Germany as Jewish survivors.
Pamela Sollenberger, Exeter, NH, USA

I think it means that we are finally getting past the darkness Hitler and WWII brought to the world. I have been to Germany, and I know that the people are going through their own healing process. I think it means a lot to them because the Jews are moving back, and that Berlin is considered one of the more hip social capitals in the world.
Wayne Kusy, Chicago

I am thrilled to read of this wonderful event. I spent a couple of years in Heidelberg and some more time in Mannheim where the synagogues and their communities are thriving. Nevertheless, it's wonderful that Berlin is seeing such an amazing renaissance of Jewish and Judaic culture. I can't wait to visit this wonderful and noble Jewish community in Berlin.
Maresa Elliot, Salamanca, Spain

By rebuilding a snyagogue through lottery and public participation, Germans have shown that they did not agree with their previous generation and returned the right to live to the Jews. I hope Jews will also follow in their footsteps, returning lands and rebuilding the houses of Palestinians.
Shah Nawaz, Seattle

The reopening of this synagogue in the heart of Berlin has special meaning to me for several reasons. When I lived in this East Berlin neighborhood in 1995, I felt a sense of both hope and sadness. I was hopeful because the Berlin Wall had 'fallen' and the hatreds of the cold war were seemingly fading. The sadness was the incredible emptiness that I felt when regularly passing this synagogue. It was about the unspeakable, insane destruction of a people who once went about their daily lives in this very neighborhood before the 1930s. That this particular synagogue is again coming to life with the activities of new migrants shows how people and cities evolve. After living in Berlin in 1995, I then moved to Israel and learned more about how migrants there had fled the horrors of Europe after wartime. These harsh lessons and memories must not be forgotten even as cities such as Berlin continue to evolve and are welcoming migrants once again.
David Sadoway, Hong Kong, HK SAR




SEE ALSO
Major German synagogue reopened
31 Aug 07 |  Europe



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