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Photos like this are all that re-
main. The synagogue was burned
in 1938, on Kristallnact, the in-
famous night when synagogues
all over Germany were destroyed.
Reduced to a mere shell, it was
But after the war came re-
birth. In 1950, the Jews of Dres-
den, tiny in number, dedicated
their brand new synagogue, the
first to be built during the GDR
As he often does for Jewish vis-
itors, Mr. Aris volunteered to
show me the synagogue. It was
just a short ride from his office to
the residential area where the
modest but graceful white syn-
agogue stands on a corner. Like
the Semper synagogue, this one,
too, has a dome, although a much
more modest one. Opening the
gate, Mr. Aris led the way into
the small and dignified sanctu-
ary, which seats 80.
One entire wall is a memori-
al area. The gold inscription, in
German, reads in part: "To re-
member the dead, and a memo-
rial for the living – the Jewish
community of Dresden has built
this house..." And on the other
side, in Hebrew letters, are the
words of the Kaddish.
The sanctuary serves a Jew-
ish community which now num-
bers 100 individuals – a tiny
minority in a city of half a mil-
lion. But it is an evolving com-
munity facing its own challenges.
Until 1989, for example, there
were only 55 members – now, the
community is almost twice as
FLORENCE page 58
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numbers have changed dramat-
In an ironic twist of fate, the
same bombs that destroyed
much of the city helped to save
a small remnant of surviving
Jews still in Dresden in 1945.
By then, all the Jews had been
relocated in a nearby work camp
and from there, deported to
the death camps. The final de-
portation was scheduled for Feb.
Still, this was a devastated
community. Almost all the Jews
were gone. So was the city's glo-
rious synagogue. It had been built
by Gottfried Semper, the archi-
tect who created the opera house
named for him. The Dresden
synagogue was the only sacred
building he designed.
"It was one of the most famous
synagogues in Europe," said Mr.
Aris, pointing to a photo on the
wall which shows the ornate,