Synagogues in Brandenburg. Search for Traces. A Book by Students and Researchers documents Synagogues as Centers of Jewish Life in Brandenburg. 

Until the 1930s, there were synagogues in over 50 cities and municipalities of the present-day federal state Brandenburg. They were places of prayer, gathering and learning and thus symbol of a vital Jewry even in Germany’s rural regions. Synagogues were built there from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. This weremostly prayer rooms in privat homes but in some places splendid houses of God reflected the jews’ emancipation and their partake in social life. Today, their traces have been partly uncovered but often still remain hardly recognisable or destroyed.

The book Synagogen in Brandenburg. Spurensuche (Synagogues in Brandenburg. Search for Traces), released 2013 at Hentrich & Hentrich publishing house Berlin, vividly documents the results of the search for traces of local Jewish history on which students and researchers from the University of Potsdam and the Moses Mendelssohn Center in Potsdam have embarked since 2011. The outcome of this search of traces was presented to the museum’s visitors from March, 12th to June 17th, 2012 at the Haus der Brandenburgisch-Preußischen Geschichte (HBPG House of the Brandenburg-Prussian History) in Potsdam. Since then, the exhibition has been shown at many places in Brandenburg.

The now available exhibition companion volume that is rich of images and documents invites everybody who is interested in Jewish history to go on a search of traces in Brandenburg so they can personally discover and visualise the places of former and present-day Jewish life. Alongside the information to the 46 synagogues’ sites and digressions, the reader receives an introduction to Jewish culture and religion, the functions of a synagogue as well as archival work and remembrance culture. A glossary of terms at the book’s end explains accurately the specific expressions used in the texts.

Maria Berger, Uri Faber, Felicitas Grützmann, Matthias Albert Koch, Elke-Vera Kotowski (Ed.): Synagogen in Brandenburg. Spurensuche. Berlin 2013, 256 S., 19,90 €.


Book reviews for Synagogues in Brandenburg. Search for Traces.

Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten dated March 5th, 2014.

H-Soz-u-Kult dated February 14th, 2014.

HeimatKurier dated January 13th, 2014.


Further Project Information

Synagogen in Brandenburg. Spurensuche


In the context of the event Lange Nacht der Museen 2014 (Long Night of Museums 2014) co-editor Felicitas Grützmann and Matthias Albert Koch inform about their work on the exhibition and the book.

Location: Stiftung Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum, Oranienburger Straße 28/30, Berlin-Mitte

Date: 17. Mai 2014

Start: 9.00 pm

Duration: 30 min.

Form: Presentation with pictures

Room: Seminar room


In the context of the event Potsdamer Tag der Wissenschaften 2014 (Potsdam Science Day 2014) co-editor Felicitas Grützmann informs about her work on the exhibition and the book.

Location: University of Potsdam, Campus Neues Palais, House 11

Date: June 14th, 2014

Start: 3.00 pm

Duration: 45 min.

Form: Presentation with pictures

Room: House 11, Nr. 1.25


Jewish Physicians from Germany and their Role in the Setting of the Israeli Health Care

The website is dedicated to the role of German-Jewish physicians who emigrated to Erez Israel after 1933 in the health care system in the Yishuv, the Jewish settlements in Palestine. While most of the resident Palestine physicians were general practitioners, the majority of the Jews immigrated from Germany werde medical specialists. This immigration of specialists led to advancements in the Yishuv’s health care system. Following the physicians’ medical areas of expertise the website presents their different exile vitae.

The project is carried out by the Nuremberg Institute for NS-Research and Jewish History of the 20th Century as well as by the haGalil association.


A German-Jewish Family History in 32 Postcards

On his website the swedish writer Torkel Wächter presents 32 postcards which he had found in the attic of his parents’ house in Stockholm. These closely written postcards were the last signs of life of Gustav and Minna Wächter, the author’s grandparents. Torkel Wächter’s father who was able to escape to Sweden did not hear anything from his grandparents after the 32nd postcard. They became victims of the Holocaust.

In a long years’ research and with great effort did Torkel Wächter reconstruct his family history. Herefore, he learned German, traveled to Hamburg, the postcardes’ place of origin, interviewed contemporary witnesses and historians and asked Hamburg pensioners to transliterate the old German Sütterlin script.

The letters document the middle-class life of the civil servant’s family in Hamburg with domestic music and theatre plays as well as the flight of family members to Argentine, Brasil and Sweden. For the Wächter family, the only possibility to keep in touch were through postcards. Superficially, the postcards reported on everyday matters, but carefully formulated allusions were hidden between the lines, so they didn’t arouse the censor’s suspicions.


Deutsche Welle: Multimedia Project Search for Traces – German-Jewish Cultural Heritage worldwide

With the support of German Jewish Cultural Heritage and the Moses Mendelssohn Center the Deutsche Welle developed the multimedia project Search for Traces – German-Jewish Cultural Heritage worldwide. DW reporters traveled to ten locations all over the world to follow the traces of German-Jewish immigrants on-site. Journalists interviewed contemporary witnesses and documented their stories.

Among the portrayed are historians, museum experts, artists, a cook, rabbis, businessmen, poetesses, musicians, archivists – all that across three generations. The outcome is a series of portraits about strong, dedicated and impressive personalities.

Together with these people, the DW reporters have visited the former neighbourhoods of Jews with German origins, wandered through museums, were invited into privat living rooms and to a big family reunion, visited a literature festival,  sat at a Yiddish course and peeked into newspaper editing rooms. They also looked for traces in former ghettos and at memorial sites that conmemorate crimes of the NS era. All these life stories interrelate to one colourful patchwork of German-Jewish culture around the world.

Since December 3rd, 2012 the search for traces is accessible online at the Deutsche Welle website.


German-Jewish Cultural Heritage in Germany and abroad

Hosted by the Moses Mendelssohn Center Potsdam in cooperation with the Foundation New Synagogue – Centrum Judaicum Berlin.

International Conference:

Herunterladen Konferenz-Programm

(To preview the program, please click on the picture)

Location: Stiftung Neue Synagoge – Centrum Judaicum, Oranienburger Straße 28/30, Berlin

Date: 25. – 27. October 2011

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