For a while now I’ve heard of the ‘four temples’ district within Wrocław but I’ve never really paid it enough attention to wonder about and visit that part of town. The district is also commonly referred to as the ‘district of tolerance’ because of how four religions were able to operate with temples within 300 yards of each other. The four religions are: Jewish, Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Evangelical Christian.
Now that I think about it I could probably do something of a short blog post series and have four posts dedicated to each of the temples found in the district. With that in mind, I present you with the White Stork Synagogue opened in 1829 in then German Breslau.
The three story neoclassical building was designed by Carl Ferdinand Langhans, one of the foremost architects of the 19th century in Silesia who also designed Wrocław’s Opera House. During the Kristallnacht, also known as the Night of the Broken Glass, the interior of the synagogue was destroyed and the only reason the building wasn’t burned to the ground by a Nazi paramilitary group was because of its proximity to other buildings and fear that fire would spread to non-Jewish buildings.
After WWII the city turned the building over to the Jewish community where it served as a community center and a place of worship until 1975 when the authorities expropriated it and gave the building to the University of Wrocław where it served a library. It was purchased by a private firm in 1995 and returned to the Jewish community. A decade long renovation took place soon afterwards that was completed just last year, in 2010.
Wikipedia claims that there were plans for a Jewish museum inside the building and I think that’s just what we saw on the second level of the synagogue. Many well known people of Jewish descent were shown with a short biography by their name. Also well written out was history of the Jewish religion in the area. It was good to finally visit the district and tour the synagogue, I can actually say that it was a learning experience with the amount if information placed all around the synagogue. I highly recommend a visit there by anyone walking around Wrocław.
By sheer coincidence there was a huge poster of Edyta Stein on a building in the city square. I’m not sure why it was hanging there, but I had just finished reading about her in the synagogue.