Bavaria: On the trail of Jewish life – Bavaria

Since its opening in 1926, the “Schocken” in the southern part of the city has been the most well-known department store in Nuremberg. The cube-like building by Erich Mendelsohn not only marked the architectural beginning of modernism in the city. It was also of social relevance, since no consumer palace for the upper ten thousand was built in the center – but a house for everyone with a large area and a wide range of products was put into operation. And that outside of the old town, in a city region in the south of Nuremberg that stands for the industrial age like no other in Bavaria.

All of this is comparatively present in Nuremberg, if only because the significant Schocken and its future became a bone of contention in local politics in the 21st century. But where does the name come from? Very few are aware of this, especially since the complex was closed for the time being in 2013 and demolition began two years ago. Since then, passers-by have not been able to ponder so much about a name, but even more about a high-profile position in a massive, unusual district center.

In the future, they will be able to find out about the history of the place using the interactive city map of the Forum for Jewish History and Culture. The project is called MEKOMOT-Nü, after the Hebrew word for “places”. Places of Jewish life, Jewish history and culture are made accessible. The project sees itself as a work in progress, so it should still grow, explains spokeswoman Brigitte Wellhöfer. About the opening of the Schocken, however, you can already read about how the crowds came there on October 11, 1926. The Jewish entrepreneur and intellectual Salman Schocken commissioned the architect Mendelsohn, also with Jewish roots, to build a functional sales outlet. This was also referred to as a “proletarian department store” – and was well received in the southern part of the city.

The explanatory text comes from Alexander Schmidt, historian at the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds, co-author of the book “History of the Jews in Nuremberg” and initiator of the city plan project. Schmidt notes how the Schocken was exposed to a smear campaign from the start, instigated by the Streichers striker. Boycott campaigns followed from 1933, customers were photographed and followed, the managing director was arrested, and the department store group was finally expropriated through “Aryanization”. At that time, Salman Schocken published writings on Jewish culture in an inexpensive “library of the Schocken publishing house” in order to support Jews in the dictatorship. After the war, the badly hit house was rebuilt in different ways and initially continued by different owners. The “Schocken” no longer exists as an old building, but the term lives on.

Julie Meyer was the daughter of Sabine and Max Meyer, a banker and co-founder of the “Adas Israel Congregation”. Julie Meyer attended the municipal high school for girls in Nuremberg and studied in Munich and Erlangen. In 1937 she emigrated to the USA.

(Photo: private)

Nothing remains – but for other reasons – of the representative synagogue on the central Hans-Sachs-Platz, where today the “Children’s Christmas” of the Christkindlesmarkt has its home. When the church was inaugurated in 1874, the congregation already numbered 2,500 people, and the Jews seemed to have arrived with the Moorish-style synagogue. Until the Nazis enacted their “Law for the Redesign of German Cities” in 1937 and shortly thereafter the striker fumed against the synagogue as the “shame of Nuremberg”. A little later, after a public rally including NS speeches, the demolition of the church began.

Of course, people are also remembered on the digital plan, which is co-financed by the city and district. To Julie Meyer, for example, who did her doctorate on the “emergence of patriciate in Nuremberg” and was not only a leading figure of the left-liberal German Democratic Party, but also co-founder of the Bavarian State Association of German Democratic Youth Associations, co-editor of the magazine The echo and lecturer at the newly founded social women’s school. Or to Lucie Adelsberger, a specialist in pediatrics and internal medicine who was born in Nuremberg and who researched at the Robert Koch Institute, whose license to practice medicine was revoked in 1938 and who was deported to Auschwitz in 1943. Shortly before the end of the war she was liberated in a satellite camp of Ravensbrück concentration camp. After the war she worked in New York as a doctor and scientist in cancer research.

And be presented with the project also Jewish Nurembergers the presence. Among them the student Lena Prytula, 21, who complains in a portrait video that in her perception today, Judaism is almost exclusively associated with “anti-Semitism” or the “Shoah” – and one sometimes forgets that there is so much more. Last but not least, for her, Judaism is: “good food, good company, a super happy religion”.

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