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Friday, November 28, 2008

Designer of new WTC to build new synagogue in Munich, Germany

Designer of new World Trade Centre to build synagogue in Munich

By Michael Levitin, Telegraph [1]

New York-based architect Daniel Libeskind, the master designer of the new World Trade Centre, has announced plans to build a new synagogue in the not-always-welcoming Bavarian capital.

Notorious for its lingering sentiments about the Nazi years, Munich has been mixed up before in controversies involving Jewish remembrance, such as Mayor Christian Ude's refusal in 2004 to allow the brass-plated Stolpersteine, or Stumbling Stones, to be installed in streets as individual memorials to Jews killed in the Holocaust.

This time, members of Munich's liberal Jewish community, Beth Shalom, which expects to raise between 5-10m euros for the building are confident they will see the project through.

Munich has become "a home city for the Jewish people, and we hope it will also be in the future," said Matthias Strauss who heads Friends of Beth Shalom. Far-right neo-Nazi activity persists in Munich perhaps more than anywhere in the former West Germany.

But Mr Libeskind, of Polish-Jewish descent, cited unwavering support for "a project with such exciting aspirations and profound belief".

"I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work on the development of a Reform Synagogue in Munich," he said.

Known widely for his three European Jewish museums in Berlin, Osnabrück and Copenhagen, and for the Contemporary Jewish Museum which opened in San Francisco in June, Mr Libeskind will present plans for the Munich synagogue in spring with hopes of completing the project by 2018.

Though its location is still unconfirmed, Mr Strauss said he wanted the building to go up on Westenrieder Strasse, the site of Munich's first synagogue in 1850, which was burned in the Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938. Two years ago, a large new synagogue, community centre and museum opened in central Munich, 68 years to the day after Kristallnacht.

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