news 25 Jul 13

Croatia to Rebuild Synagogue Demolished by Fascists

A city-centre synagogue that the Croatian Ustasha regime destroyed in 1942 may soon rise once again from the ashes, the newspaper Jutarnji list reported.

Boris Pavelic

The Zagreb Jewish community has told Jutarnji list that preparations have "intensified" for the rebuilding of a city-centre synagogue destroyed in the Second World War.

"We are conducting examinations in Prague street on the site of our destroyed synagogue in order to rebuild it," a source from the local Jewish Community was quoted as saying.

Vladimir Salamon, president of Bet Israel, another Jewish organisation in the city, said he hoped a new synagogue would soon arise "on the site of the destroyed one".

The synagogue was destroyed between October 1941 until April 1942 by the Fascist Ustasha regime, which ruled Croatia under Nazi German and Italian patronage from 1941 until May 1945.

Then then mayor of the city, Ivan Werner, explained the demolition, claiming that the building did not fit into the urban plan.

The synagogue opened in Prague street in 1867, designed by the architect Franjo Klein.

According to Wikipedia, Klein "modeled the building on the Viennese Leopoldstädter Tempel (1858), a Moorish Revival temple designed by Ludwig Förster that would become a prototype for synagogue design in Central Europe".

The synagogue was never rebuilt. Today, the site contains a car park and a plaque memorialising the synagogue.

After Croatia became independent in 1991, a public debate started about whether to rebuild the synagogue, but nothing was done.

However, in recent years, the government and the city returned the site to the Jewish Community and pledged financial help towards rebuilding the synagogue.

But problems then arose over what kind of synagogue to rebuild, which intensified after the Zagreb Jewish community split into two, the Jewish Community and Bet Israel, in 2006.

The two communities have yet to agree on whether to opt for a replica of the old destroyed synagogue, as Bet Israel proposes, or a modern one, with a cultural centre, which some members of the Jewish Community suggest.

Recent reports of intensified work indicate that some kind of an agreement could be reached soon.

According to Zagreb Bet Israel data, during Holocaust, 8,000 to 9,000 Jewish men, women and children from Zagreb were killed. Less than 3,000 survived the occupation, of whom 800 emigrated to Israel in 1948. According to the 2011 census, only 509 Jews remain in all of Croatia.


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