“In Fading Light” exhibition opening and an excursion into Augsburg’s Jewish past and present

The city of Augsburg made me happy. On Thursday night, I had an exhibition opening at Bukowina-Institut and my dear friend Katharina Haberkorn was so kind to guide me through Jewish and non-Jewish sites in the city.

About 80 visitors attended the opening of “In Fading Light” on January 17. On display are until June 24, prints of Jewish heritage sites in Eastern Europe – including Galicia, Bukovina and Bessarabia. Everything was perfectly organized by Anna Hahn and her fellow students. A real highlight was the choir of Kriegshaber synagogue. Katharina Haberkorn delivered the key note, reflecting the concept of remembrance from antiquity to the the present.

The event has a background. While Katharina manages the exchange between the region of Schwaben with Bukovina in Ukraine and Romania, Barbara Staudinger is the newly appointed director of the local Jewish Museum – which cooperated in the making of the exhibition – and Maren Röger took over the position of the director of Bukowina-Institut. These young women bring a breeze of fresh air into their institutions and do a wonderful job. I can only congratulate Augsburg’s decicion makers for hiring them. Bukowina-Institut with its amazing archives became a browling hotspot of research and social life.

On Friday, Katharina was so kind to guide me through Augsburg. There is a beautiful downtown synagogue with a worth to visit Jewish museum. The synagogue is functioning and Augsburg has, due to imigration from Eastern Europe, more Jewish residents than before 1933.

In the suburb of Kriegshaber a second synagogue is located. The Baroque building was already closed during World War I when Augsburg’s central synagogue was inaugurated. For a short periode it was re-dedicated after World War II when the American Forces were in need of a synagogue for their soldiers and for displaced persons. Later, it served different purposes until it finally became a museum. Kriegshaber synagogue is one of the smartest restauration works I’ve ever seen – making all layers of history visible.

It takes only a 10 minutes walk from the synagogue to the Jewish cemetery. It mainly consists of 19th century tombstones with the typical sandstone preservation problem. Many inscriptions became unreadable but the cemetery is well maintained and is well guarded by a grim looking cat.

Beside its Jewish sites, the city of Augsburg offers a lot to visitors. Did you know that the concept of social housing was invented there? The “Fuggerei” was established in the early 16th century and needy persons still are accomodated there for 88 cents per year. I will not bother you with the excellent food and beers, you have to try it yourselves.

Thank you everybody, who helped to make this exhibition opening a success! You were amazing and I’m grateful to all of you! A special “thanks” goes to Katharina, who took time to guide me. Thank you!

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