Jewish Construction, Contemporary History and Contemporary Studies

Funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) from 2018 to 2021.

Within the framework of the project, the possibilities and limits of “Jewish construction” between 1945 and 1989 in the Federal Republic and in the GDR are investigated in an architectural-historical study. The concept of Jewish construction encompasses various aspects: the life and work of Jewish architects, the Jewish communities as builders, the buildings erected for Jewish use, and finally, their reception by the non-Jewish public, among others, in the context of opening ceremonies, in daily newspapers, or publications. The study pursues the question as to the architectural, urban, and public spaces in which Jewish life managed to develop after the Shoah in both German states and what contribution Jewish architects made to architecture and urban planning.

The project focuses on Jewish construction projects: synagogues, community centers, retirement homes, youth centers, cemetery buildings, as well as monuments that are related to the sites of destroyed synagogues. Categories include both plans actually realized and unrealized for new buildings as well as – much more frequently – conversions of existing buildings by the communities. While the majority of construction projects in the GDR were completed in the 1950s, a history of Jewish building activity in the Federal Republic of Germany can be traced over the entire period under investigation. Against this background, a selection was made to cover projects built at different times and under different (local) political conditions. The study involves not only the concrete construction history, but also questions about the visibility of Jewish life, the attribution of meaning, possible appropriations of architecture, references to Jewish history, but also restoration, “restitutions,” and the handling of former synagogue properties and preserved community buildings.

Dr. Alexandra Klei
Phone: 0177 7392934
E-mail: alexandra.klei[at]

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