Mapping Memories - Ver(antw)ortung Börneplatz

Looking back at the pop up event

08 September 2021 Tanja Neumann

For four days from September 9 to 12, 2021, the Neue Börneplatz became the site of a lively examination of the former synagogue as a vibrant place of Jewish life and its impact far beyond Frankfurt.

An exhibition of the Archaeological Museum Frankfurt and the Jewish Museum Frankfurt with works by Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll) and Ariel Efraim Ashbel and friends in an architectural installation by Nikolaus Hirsch & Michel Müller.

(1) Photo: Jesscia Müller
(2) Photo: Jesscia Müller
(3) Architect Nikolaus Hirsch. Photo: Jesscia Müller
(4) Architect Michel Müller. Photo: Jesscia Müller
(5) Design drawing for the pop-up platform. Copyright: Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller

Which way is Börneplatz?

At the southwestern end of the Jewish cemetery, a square was created in the Middle Ages, which became the center of Jewish life in Frankfurt from the 16th century due to the namesake Judenmarkt. Later, this square was considerably enlarged and in 1885, after the construction of the Orthodox synagogue, it became Börneplatz.

To disguise its Jewish history, it was renamed Dominikanerplatz in 1935, a reference to the Dominican monastery across the street. The synagogue was destroyed during the Reich Pogrom Night.

Voices on the Börneplatz Conflict

The interviews as source material for the individual statements and the Börneplatz collage by Jochanan Shelliem that can be heard here were created - with the exception of the recording with Micha Brumlik and Eva Demski, whose appearance on the podium has been documented and evaluated - on the fringes of the symposium "Börneplatz-Konflikt 1987 revisited - 30 Jahre danach" (Börneplatz Conflict 1987 revisited - 30 years after) on August 20, 2017 at the Museum Judengasse.

Audio recordings of the following contemporary witnesses* were processed:

  1. Ursula Trautwein, Church activist, Federal Cross of Merit recipient
  2. Dorothee Lottmann-Kaeseler, film director
  3. Jutta Ebeling, member of the Green Party, Mayor of the City of Frankfurt/Main
  4. Ursula Schuh
  5. Petra Kunik, actress and writer
  6. Daniel Kempin, singer and Chasan in the Egalitarian Minyan
  7. Helga Dieter, teacher and founder of the children's project "Holidays from War
  8. Gertraude Friedeborn, former SDS member
  9. Barbara Aschanta Greul, artist
  10. Micha Brumlik, educationalist and publicist
  11. Eva Demski, writer

The Börneplatz Synagogue

Built according to the plans of architect Siegfried Kuznitzky (1845-1922), the house of worship on Börneplatz (until 1885 Judenmarkt, from 1935 to 1978 Dominikanerplatz) was solemnly consecrated on September 12, 1882 as the new synagogue of the Orthodox congregation. It was also called Horowitz Synagogue or New Community Synagogue.

At the turn of the century, the synagogue was rebuilt and enlarged by architect Fritz Epstein. Now it had room for 1,300 worshippers. On September 8, 1901, it was solemnly rededicated by Rabbi Dr. Markus Horovitz.

On the morning of November 10, 1938, the synagogue was set on fire by units of the SA on the orders of the NSDAP leadership. In 1939, the ruins were demolished by order of the Frankfurt city administration.

(6) This model was made for the exhibition "The Architecture of the Synagogue" at the German Architecture Museum in 1988. Studio Tschavgov took into account both the construction Siegfried Kuznitzky 1881-82 and the extension 1901 by Fritz Epstein.
(7) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(8) Photo: Jessica Schäfer

Traces of destruction

In the summer of 1990, the last preserved remains of the former synagogue were uncovered and documented. In the basement of the building, filled with demolition rubble, archaeologists discovered fragments of the Torah shrine.

Until now, its appearance and dimensions could only be reconstructed on the basis of historical texts and photographs. Its colorful design as well as details of the ornamental decoration can only be experienced thanks to the stone fragments. These originals testify that the Torah shrine was not dismantled but literally smashed: the stones show the traces of brute force. In their immediacy and tactility, they are a rare and impressive testimony to the pogrom of November 9/10, 1938 and the subsequent radical destruction of the synagogue.

(9) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(10) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(11) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(12) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(13) Photo: Jessica Schäfer

Unboxing Past

The project "Unboxing Past" by Helgard Haug (Rimini Protokoll) takes the stone fragments of the synagogue in the depot of the Archaeological Museum as an opportunity to take a look behind the scenes of museum working practices. For the past year, three cameras have been observing Dr. Thorsten Sonnemann as he "unpacks" around 100 archive boxes and takes inventory of the stone evidence they preserve. The project invites reflection on practices of archiving and remembering, and questions the museum memory that clings to material cultural objects.

(14) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(15) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(16) Photo: Jessica Schäfer

Bar Mitzvah'd at Forty

The bar mitzvah - the Jewish "rite of passage" or confirmation - is a significant moment in the life of a Jewish person. It is the moment when young people become part of the community. Since he did not perform the bar mitzvah in his youth, Ariel Efraim Ashbel is making up for this perhaps most important Jewish ceremony today - on his 40th birthday in the summer of 2022.

(17) Photo: Jessica Schäfer
(18) Photo: Jessica Schäfer

The supporting program

In the context of "Mapping Memories - Ver(antw)ortung Börneplatz" guided tours, discussions and performances took place. They were documented in photographs and in film, which you will also find here shortly.