Jewish Memorial desecrated. SJ Dodgson. MJoTA 2015 v9(2) p0729
In South Eastern Germany, the furthest tip of Germany that is not France or Switzerland, an ancient city is thriving at it has for probably around 1,000 years. The centerpiece of Freiburg-im-Breisgau, the Munster, is said to have been built from around 1100, and signs on buildings claim that some have been around since the 1300s, some the 1400s.
For nearly 30 years, since I caught the heart of the German grandson of a Jew from Frankfurt, the highlight of my visits have been the Jewish memorial. The old synagogue was burned down in Crystal Night, when the thugs and murderers were enthusiastically encouraged to destroy Jewish property and Jewish lives. November 9-10, 1938. The old synagogue was burned down in Freiburg, and as a memorial later, after the German government had been destroyed, the footprint of the old synagogue served as a beautiful, poignant reminder and memorial to Jews who lost their lives all over Germany. The walls of the old synagogue remained, and ringed a green park that was a quiet, lovely place right across from big busy buildings of the University of Freiburg.
I have been in Freiburg 3 weeks, and first I saw a surveyor standing in the middle, and then some stones. Today I have seen pipes and a portable toilet and bricks and stones, all within the holy place that was the Synagogue. Bicycles lined up inside the wall. Why are we being green and caring about the future if we trample over the past? Without the past, the future is meaningless.
I saw a huge sign erected, the city of Freiburg is about to remove the Synagogue walls and grass and pave it over inside the Freiburg Synagogue footprint. I ask, where is the outrage? Are there no Jews left to complain? Why are they getting away with this?
I protest. And after I finished walking around the site tonight, almost in tears, I saw 13 young people standing still on the crossing between the Freiburg Synagogue and the university. Any time I see a silent protest, I join. And I did. After it was over, I spoke to a young man called Graham who told me that they protest by standing still every Tuesday for 10 minutes between 6.30 and 6.40pm. And that he had protested the desecration of the Freiburg Synagogue by planting a garden of flowers.
All around the Freiburg Synagogue I see desecration. Little buildings looking like they were added to insult the memory of many who perished in the Jewish Holocaust, including members of my two younger children's family, who included Anne Frank.
I am outraged. The Munster, which is a gorgeous, spectacular building which I will lovingly describe at a later date, is being restored statue by statue, at a huge cost. And it is a treasure, and I think this is wonderful. But I also knew that the Freiburg Synagogue memorial was also a treasure. It needs to be preserved as a quiet place now and forever.