Haus der jüdischen Geschichte und Kultur von Baden

Town council meeting of July 27, 2021: The synagogue site becomes the "Denkort Fundamente".

In its meeting of July 27, 2021, the town council voted by a majority to follow up on the idea of the mayor's "Denkort Fundamente". According to this, under this heading will be realized the "commemoration of the former synagogue", "school education in the commercial school of the district (Handelslehranstalt)", "cultural and historical education related to Jewish history and culture" and "civic, civil education with the participation of the State Fire School (Landesfeuerwehrschule) / Ministry of the Interior (Innenministerium)", according to the template presented to the town council.

This presentation of the city administration is in many, just also in essential points still little detailed and extremely vaguely elaborated, so that still much work remains, nevertheless now ideas must be collected and concretized. Especially the "civic education house" still needs to be specified by the city society.

From the statements of the local council factions:

For the CDU faction Prof. Dr. Werner Schnatterbeck:

Prof. Dr. Werner Schnatterbeck emphasizes that a new chapter of history can be written at this point in Bruchsal, where an attempt can be made to do justice to the responsibility in order to look forward in the knowledge of the catastrophe and moral failure at the time. "Democracy needs a constant effort to grasp its value, to fill it with life and thereby to stabilize it. Therefore, there is much to be said for taking the foundations that still lie in the ground as an opportunity to strengthen the foundations of democracy through appropriate measures in the ideal and material spheres." Prof. Dr. Schnatterbeck quotes Charlotte Knobloch, former president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland), who stated, "If you want to tackle the issue of Jew hatred socially, your lever must be education."  1700 years of Jewish life in Germany, the handout continued, show many facets, especially in northern Baden, around Bruchsal, where two-thirds of all Baden Jews lived, according to the Fördervcrein (Förderverein Haus der Geschichte der Juden Badens e.V.) paper. Making this life and its contribution to our culture known is also the mission and component of education, which he, Prof. Dr. Werner Schnatterbeck, sees as the bracket of the triad of the administration's concept. This place of education shows as third component with presumably rather more than half of the area the strengthening of the commercial school (Handelslehranstalt). Also as district school this is a mark in Bruchsal. Especially with regard to new impulses for urban life, the speaker opens another view: "Apartments, administrative centralization, gastronomic offers, green zones can be created here. Such development opportunities are offered by the two and three pillars, respectively, to which we as the CDU parliamentary group are clearly committed. So that we do not turn in the circle, must be clarified now however the partners and their form of the support." Schnatterbeck urges a statement to the technical-planning further procedure, i.e. how for example with the past fire-brigade house is to be dealt. Schnatterbeck summarizes his presentation as follows: "With the relocation of the fire department, we grew responsibility to open a new chapter in the city's history - and to do so with the courageous perception of the comprehensive development opportunities that are obvious in the knowledge of the special history of this place."

For the parliamentary group Grüne/Neue Köpfe the parliamentary group chairwoman Ruth Birkle:

Ruth Birkle welcomes the concept for the subsequent use of the fire department area. Her parliamentary group wants to be careful in the historical reappraisal of Jewish history that an interreligious dialogue does not replace enlightenment and criticism in the end. She expressly praises the fire department for its offensive: "It faces the special problem of hierarchical organizations."

For the SPD faction the faction chairwoman Anja Krug:

The parliamentary group leader praises the building as architecturally appealing, in which meeting, discourse and contemporary remembering can take place. From the point of view of the SPD, this would be a gain for Bruchsal. In view of the historically significant site, where history and life were once to be violently extinguished, the opportunity for democracy education is authentic and lively - precisely what the perpetrators at the time would have rejected, Ms. Krug continued. "Exchange, education and controversy - that's what our civil society needs!" It would be desirable from the point of view of the SPD parliamentary group that the premises being created there can also be made usable for Bruchsal civil society for meetings and gatherings, so that a house is created in which life and encounters are possible on a low-threshold basis. Anja Krug also takes the descendants of the victims into consideration: "It is very fortunate that the descendants of the victims of the Holocaust are so fairly and openly involved in the process. Of course, they are good advisors to us in the decision-making process, as they bring perspectives that go beyond what we as local councilors know and can judge." On behalf of her group, she praised the petition of the Jewish descendants and friends of Bruchsal and Baden. This petition would give valuable impulses and "is a gesture of reconciliation, with which the future is to be shaped together". She expressly thanks the sponsoring association (Förderverein)  of the House of Jewish History and Culture of Baden, which has provided valuable impulses. The SPD faction in the Bruchsal municipal council hopes for support from the state of Baden-Württemberg so that a lighthouse project can be developed for Bruchsal and its citizens.

For the parliamentary group of the Free Voters (Freie Wähler) their group chairman Roland Foos:

Roland Foos explained that his parliamentary group considers the use of the synagogue property as an educational institution in the broadest sense to be positive, whereby he sees the Handelslehranstalt (commercial school) as a classical educational institution. He sees the further use as "Denkort Fundamente" as an extended educational idea, beyond school education, here he sees a "remembering of an unfortunately past Jewish culture in Bruchsal" and sees "a confrontation with history with all its facets." Foos continues, "if it then succeeds in making a contribution to civil courage and democracy, this would be something very special because of the uniqueness of this location." He adds, "Residential and offices will certainly be built in the adjacent areas, why not on the core site. Of course, only as far as the main use as a 'learning and thinking place' allows."

We were not provided with the handouts of the other factions.

The Bruchsaler Rundschau reported already the following day, July 28, 2021, on the decision of the municipal council:

Historic decision in Bruchsal

Large majority in the municipal council: Old fire station area becomes "Denkort Fundamente" (Memorial Foundations)

By our editorial member Christina Zäpfel

Bruchsal. It is probably the most important urban development project of the decade in Bruchsal: With a large majority, the municipal council has now cleared the way for a "Memorial Foundations".

Where the synagogue once stood, in Friedrichstraße, and later, virtually on the ruins, the fire station was erected on the ruins, the town council wants to realize an ambitious project: A triad of a classical educational site, namely the expanded Handelslehranstalt (commercial school), commemoration of Jewish life and a civic and a civil education center together with the State Fire Brigade School (Landesfeuerwehrschule in Bruchsal).

"I could already briefly talk about it with the Minister of the Interior," confessed Mayor Cornelia Petzold-Schick (non-party) at the beginning. Because one seems
clear: The city will not be able to manage the project on its own. The municipal council has given the administration the task of concretizing the project, drawing up a space program and to solicit support from the state.

CDU councillor Werner Schnatterbeck spoke of a "directional decision".  Because the company SEW Eurodrive had donated a new fire station, it also offered the city new the city new development opportunities in a central location. "We are writing a new chapter in history", with the knowledge of the catastrophe at that time. The destruction of Jewish institutions such as the Bruchsal synagogue was a starting point for the eventual extermination of millions of Jews. Starting from the foundations of the synagogue, he said, it is now necessary to strengthen the foundations of democracy. "Democracy needs constant effort," Schnatterbeck found.

Ruth Birkle, the leader of the Green/New Heads (Grüne/Neue Köpfe) parliamentary group, praised the fire department for facing the problems within its hierarchical structure. The idea was that organizations such as the police and, in this case, the fire departments, should combat anti-Semitic tendencies at an early stage and, to this end, train their members to be civic education for their members. And precisely at the synagogue and the fire station stood on the same spot.

For Anja Krug, spokeswoman for the SPD parliamentary group, the focus is on meeting and the discourse are in the foreground, combined with an appealing architectural design. Where Jewish life was once violently extinguished, an authentic place, is now a place of exchange. "This is an asset for Bruchsal." Krug pleaded for an open house that offers space for civil society she said. "We are proud that we have faced this process." She said the triad unites many ideas from citizen participation.

Roland Foos, spokesman for the Free Voters (Freie Wähler), assessed the concentration of the commercial school in one place as contemporary. It is important to remember the Jewish culture with all its facets. Creating a place of civil courage is something special. At the same time, he warned: "We need sustainable structures. Bruchsal cannot handle this alone." If no other financial backers can be brought on board, no municipal funds can be released. "The whole thing is dependent on a permanent financing."

For FDP (Liberal Democratic Party) leader Jürgen Wacker, it was also important to focus on civic education "and not on a single professional group." Some city council members already had a hard time with the focus on fire departments in the run-up. Wacker was pleased about the positive reactions from the district council (Kreistag), since the district was directly involved with the Handelslehranstalt (commercial school).

The AfD/UBiB (Alternative für Deutschland), however, did not agree with the concept. Its parliamentary group chair Gabriele von Massow did not see the criteria fulfilled. She felt that there was a lack of holistic development of the site, which promised growth and innovative strength, while at the same time awareness of the history and the acceptance of the population. "This prime piece of real estate should be tailored to the needs of the city."

Commentary of July 31, 2021, in the Bruchsaler Rundschau (local newspaper):

In a short commentary on this day, a journalist of the Bruchsaler Rundschau, Ms. Christiane Zäpfel, writes, that the town council, with its approval of the further use of the synagogue grounds, has allowed itself to take a risk: "Its plans are ambitious. One dreams of the lighthouse project, wants to think big, shine supraregional. All well and good, commendable." Ms. Zäpfel then points out, however, that the oath must now be taken. In these financially strained times, would enough donors be found for this project? Can the center be sustainably funded? Nothing is worse, says Ms. Zäpfel, "than starting out as a tiger and ending up as a bedside rug." Ms. Zäpfel continued: "Bruchsal can't afford to have vacant rooms grudgingly rented out as insurance offices ten years from now."