Harald Schmid, The November Pogroms and the Culture of Remembrance – the “Synagogue Monument” by Margrit Kahl
With the influx of many community members, Jewish life flourished in the so-called Grindelviertel from the late 19th century onwards. In 1906, the largest and until then only free-standing synagogue in Hamburg was inaugurated here. It was designed by the architects Semmy Engel and Ernst Friedheim. It had 700 seats for men and, in accordance with Orthodox tradition, 500 seats for women in a separate area on the galleries. In addition, there was a choir loft with 30 to 40 seats, a lecture hall, and offices on the upper floor of the house of worship, which was the largest synagogue at the time. Its façade was covered with brown clinker and brown glazed bricks. In an adjoining outbuilding was a weekday synagogue, in the basement of which a ritual bath (mikvah) had been set up.
After the synagogue was destroyed during the “Night of Broken Glass” on 9 November 1938, it had to be forcibly demolished the following year at the expense of the community and the property transferred back to the town at a price far below its value. At that time, Joseph Carlebach, who had been appointed to the Bornplatz Synagogue in 1936, was the chief rabbi of the Orthodox synagogue association within the Jewish community. On 6 December 1941, he was deported to the Jungfernhof concentration camp near Riga, Latvia, where he, his wife, and three of his daughters were murdered three months later.
On the site of the former synagogue, a floor mosaic by the artist Margit Kahl has been on display since 1988. The dark granite cubes mark the floor plan of the synagogue and reproduce the lines of the vaulted ceiling. Like a stigmata, this monument draws attention to the emptiness that has been left behind here. At the beginning of 2021, the Hamburg Senate decided, following the wishes of the Jewish community, that a new synagogue should be built on Joseph-Carlebach-Platz. The implementation and appearance are currently being discussed.