Rubble from Munich synagogue razed on Hitler’s orders found during construction work

Remains from German city’s former main house of Jewish worship, which the Nazi leader declared an ‘eyesore,’ include part of stone Ten Commandments tablet

A stone tablet with some of the Ten Commandments is seen after constructions workers in Munich uncover rubble from the synagogue that was destroyed by the Nazis, July 2023 (Courtesy Jewish Museum Munich)
A stone tablet with some of the Ten Commandments is seen after constructions workers in Munich uncover rubble from the synagogue that was destroyed by the Nazis, July 2023 (Courtesy Jewish Museum Munich)

Construction workers in Germany have uncovered rubble from Munich’s main synagogue, which Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered demolished 85 years ago.

The remains of the synagogue included columns and a stone tablet with some of the Ten Commandments, which was once above the ark that house Torah scrolls.

The head of the Jewish Munich Museum said that seeing the rubble, particularly the Ten Commandments, “was one of the most moving moments in 30 years of working in Jewish museums.”

“We never thought we would find anything from it,” Bernhard Purin told the BBC on Wednesday.

The synagogue was demolished in June 1938, five months before the Kristallnacht pogroms throughout Germany, because Hitler said it was an “eyesore.” It was then turned into a parking lot and is now the site of a department store.

The rubble was later used by the company contracted to demolish the synagogue, Leonhard Moll, for renovation work on a river weir, along with the fragments of other buildings destroyed in World War II. The pieces from the synagogue were found during fresh renovation work on the weir.

The former main synagogue in the German city of Munich before Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered its destruction in June 1938. (Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

According to Purin, the use of materials from destroyed buildings for construction projects was common at the time.

“It could be that in other houses in Munich, there’s also other parts of the synagogue,” he said in a separate interview with NPR, while expressing hope further pieces of the ark will be found.

The recent discovery was also hailed by Charlotte Knobloch, the head of Munich’s Jewish community, who recalled praying at the synagogue as a young girl before it was razed.

“I really didn’t expect fragments of the old main synagogue to survive, let alone see them,” she told the Münchner Merkur daily. “It’s all still very unreal.”

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