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Unearthed and Buried again – the Remains of Verden’s Synagogue

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Verden Synagogue site, Johanniswall, 2011

Verden Synagogue site, Johanniswall, 2011

This used to be the site of Verden’s synagogue, from 1858 to 1938, before it was burnt down in the “Night of Broken Glass”. The place has been car dealer’s parking lot since early after the end of the war. In summer, the bulldozers were back. A shopping center will be built here, soon.

My guess about the future: one eighth of Verdeners may continue to add stolpersteine memorials to their city, and people will continue to traipse across them (literally, stolperstein means stumbling stone, but these won’t make you stumble), and try to put a Reichsbahn waggon next to the train station to remind people of the concentration camp transports, another quarter of Verdeners may continue to oppose  Reichsbahn waggons, and all other Verdeners will be shopping on this site, and listen to the sermons in church on christmas eve.

A small town in Germany – or: how to avoid remembering a real bit of the past.

Oh, and the foundations and underground facilities (including the mikveh, I seem to understand) were unearthed in summer, and then returned to the underground.

The Kreiszeitung referred to the location as a “place of memory”. But that was long ago, in 2010.

Written by taide

November 7, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Verden’s Commemoration Efforts: those Unhappy Memories

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It has been said before that the way Germans remember their former fellow citizens –  citizens murdered and expelled in the 1930s and 1940s, and many of them Jewish – may matter more to the German citizens of today, than to the actual victims, their surviving relatives and the following generations (many of whom live abroad).

This thought could make commemoration easier. It wouldn’t need to include the horrors, which can’t be adequately described anyway. People who once lived and worked here, and who worshipped their God in our town, would be remembered for the respect we owe them. People who, if this had always been a normal and decent country, could have stayed among us, rather than getting killed, or having to flee what had been their city and country, too.

Excavations on the old synagogue site, Verden, July 18, 2011

Excavations on the old synagogue site, Verden, July 18, 2011

Verden’s synagogue was inaugurated in 1858, and burnt down during the “Night of Broken Glass” (Reichskristallnacht or Reichsprogromnacht) in November, 1938. Until recently a car dealership’s location, the old site is now to become a shopping center. Excavations have begun last week.

Some eight years ago, a Verden Society for Regional History (Verein für Regionalgeschichte Verden e. V.) planned to place a Reichsbahn railway waggon at Verden Railway Station, as a site to remember the haulage of forced labourers and other nazi victims to the concentration camps. The railway waggon was arsoned on January 2007.

For the arson attack alone, the waggon had served a function after all – the attack was a clear indication that commemoration of nazi crimes was deemed undesirable by certain quarters (something that many opponents would have liked to deny). But many Verdeners – correctly – pointed out that deportations by rail had taken place from Bremen, rather than from Verden, and that for historical reasons alone, Verden’s railway station was hardly the right place for the waggon.

In April 2010, Eilert Obernolte, teacher at Verden’s Domgymnasium (one of the city’s secondary schools) and two students,  picked up a suggestion by city council member Jürgen Weidemann (FDP, liberal democrats) to find a way to commemorate the synagoge, within the shopping center concept.

While the railway waggon approach was questionable from a historian’s perspecitve, the synagogue is definitely part of Verden’s past. Now that the shopping center’s construction has begun, one wonders if and how the synagogue and Verden’s former Jewish congregation will be remembered.

Stay tuned.

Written by taide

July 18, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Web Critic: a Website about Aleppo

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The best way to experience Aleppo, other than going there, is to view the pages of this website, Historische Alepposeife, which means Aleppo soap in English. The authors are clearly overweening, but their rambles through the city, its history and its specters is entertaining enough.

This is true for the North Arabian Diary in particular, from 2007, with words and pictures, and occasional ideological quarrels between Germans and Arabs, some news (more frequent updates there wouldn’t hurt), and an overview over Syria’s foreign-language media.

Written by taide

November 19, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Another Friday Night in Verden

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Cave people

Cave Peoples' nightlife (picture: JR)

A number of nightlife fans aged between sixteen and twenty had a big fight in the Sandberg street, in the vicinity of a discotheque, on Friday night or Saturday morning. Then they let loose on the arriving police (usually one or two patrollers only) who defended themselves with pepper spray. A twenty-year old was chased and arrested after throwing a cobblestone. The sixteen-year olds were handed over to their lucky parents.

If education worked, the police would have had a calm night, and the idiots would have a future. And if idiots had a bit of memory, they might have been prepared for police who is somewhat chippy these days anyway, and in no mood to take chances.

Syria: H1N1 Vaccines “available in December”

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Syria reported its first confirmed case of swine influenza or A-H1N1 on July 4, according to the Voice of America. Syrian health officials said that the case was detected in a Syrian woman who flew to the country from Australia.

The first death from H1N1 was confirmed on August 26. Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted the Health Ministry as saying a Syrian man had died of the strain.

Street Cleaning, Aleppo

Useful, but no Drug replacement: Street Cleaning in Aleppo, Syria

Syrian News Station, a news website frequently quoted by international newspapers, reports that vaccines should be available in Syria in December. Syrian health minister cited safety reasons for not starting large-scale vaccinations earlier. The country recorded 122 infections by October 20.

According to Taiwan Today (quoting the China Times), Taiwanese drug manufacturer Adimmune was approached by Southeast Asian and Middle Eastern countries which were unable to purchase H1N1 vaccines from other nations, but the company’s ceo Ignatius Wei said that Adimmune’s main concern was the welfare of Taiwan’s citizens.

Adimmune did not specify which countries were among its Middle Eastern contacts. While Syria’s infection numbers have risen since June, it may still be in a more comfortable situation than most of its neighbours if the trends have remained the same. As of June this year, Syria’s number of confirmed infections was much smaller than those of most of its neighbours.

Written by taide

October 31, 2009 at 7:06 pm

Posted in government, Syria

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Vrouw Antje comes to Aleppo

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When people talk about Historische Alepposeife, they mean HISTORICAL Aleppo soap, which means that it is very old and traditional.

But now that Vrouw Antje has arrived in Aleppo…

Vrouw Antje comes to Aleppo

Vrouw Antje comes to Aleppo

things are becoming messy… 

Vrouw Antje: You can look, but you better not touch

Vrouw Antje: You can look, but you better not touch

And when I say messy, I mean REAL messy:

Something's rotten in the souq

Something's rotten in the souq

Actually, even worse…

Aleppo soap spacecakes

Aleppo spacecakes

It’s THAT messy now!

So mind the Dutch, next time you come to Aleppo. Recent excavations suggest that Antje’s been here for a long time:

Aleppo Ancient Boobmonsta Excavation Site

Aleppo Ancient Boobmonsta Excavation Site

And when I say for a long time, I mean for a REAL long time!

Related:
(Not) the Queen Diana of the Orient, September 12, 2009
En nu… zit Jesper zelf op de Trekker, June 13, 2008

Verden means World

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Verden means “world”, explained Rolf Specht of Residenz-Gruppe Bremen. And added that Verdeners hadn’t always reacted to his corporation’s building plans in the Süderstadt in an urbane way. The Residenz-Gruppe is building a health-center there, on the hospital site. And Mr Specht is confident that the conflicts with the neighbourhood will die down now.

Mayor Lutz Brockmann, district chief executive Peter Bohlmann, investors, and other distinguished guests

Mayor Lutz Brockmann (SPD), district chief executive Peter Bohlmann (SPD), investors, and other distinguished guests

Only few neighbours had come to the the starting ceremony on the building site, reports the Verdener Aller Zeitung. Most guests were employees of the hospital on the site, members of the county council, Verden’s city council and members of public life (whatever that is).

Oh, and Mr Specht also suggested – if I can believe my local paper – that a  liberal democrat member of the city council arguably had had his own interests in mind when opposing the project.

I don’t know if he has evidence for that, or if it was just the beer. After all, the starting ceremony was a Bierfest, writes the Verdener Aller Zeitung.

I’m just glad that the Residenz-Gruppe and the city government are  selfless servants of the people of Verden.