The virtual reconstruction
of the Siegen synagogue

Brick by brick, the Siegen synagogue is reassembled on the computer.
Based on histo­rical photo­graphs from the collec­tion of the Sieger­länder Heimat- und Geschichts­verein (the Sieger­land society of local history) and the Aktives Museum Südwest­falen (Active Museum of South West­phalia), the two- and three-dimen­sional video animation pieces together the ruins of the Siegen synagogue. At the end of the instal­la­tion, the building reappears before the spec­ta­tors‘ eyes as it was from 1904 to 1938 before its dest­ruc­tion. It is projected onto the wall of the elevated bunker built on the synagogue site in 1941. The striking images are accom­pa­nied by histo­rical and modern record­ings of synagogal chants.
As in Warsaw, the word „love“ will light up in Yiddish, i.e., with Hebrew letters, in Siegen.
The premiere of the first virtual recon­struc­tion of a synagogue in Germany is intended to recall, on a repre­sen­ta­tive basis, the more than 1400 synago­gues and prayer houses that were destroyed during the so-called „Reichs­kris­tall­nacht“ in November 1938. The unique event intends to evoke a variety of emotions in the viewers, both those on-site and those worldwide watching via live broadcast on the Internet – the virtual recon­struc­tion of the Siegen synagogue will reach not only their minds but also their hearts and souls. For some viewers, the event will be their first-ever encounter with Jewish culture and Judaism.

The multi­media instal­la­tion encom­pas­sing the virtual recon­struc­tion of the Siegen synagogue is not only dedicated to the remem­brance of something past. It is simul­ta­ne­ously also related to the present and the future – as former German Chan­cellor Helmut Schmidt once said: Instead of talking about the „present of the past,“ one should rather talk about the „future of the past.“ In this sense, the Siegen project is also directed towards the future.

The artists involved in the virtual recon­struc­tion of the Siegen synagogue stand with their art and with their lives for the fact that coexis­tence between nations and religions is possible: The project is a German-Polish-Hungarian and, at the same time, Jewish-Christian co-produc­tion. The artists come from countries in which natio­na­list-auto­cratic governments are trans­forming democracy into autho­ri­ta­rian forms of government, as in Hungary and Poland; and from countries where anti-Semitism permeates all strata of society, as in Germany. The project is thus also intended as a warning and reminder against growing hostility towards Jews.

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„This project shows that art has the power to compel us to Remember, to bring us into Hope, to inspire our Healing, and to call us into a Greater Love.“

Frederick Whittaker, US HOLOCAUST EXPERT

„Just remem­be­ring is not enough. Memory must always be combined with empathy. And empathy can be awakened most effec­tively through artistic projects because art evokes those feelings that are a prere­qui­site for empathy.
I believe that art has the power to restore memory, to bring hope, to inspire, and to heal.
When there is empathy, there is no fear.
If we don’t work on our collec­tive memory, we will pass on our problems to the next genera­tions and their children.“

Gabriela von Seltmann