Kurier, November 13, 2016
A visualization at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz (AEC) enables the tour of the building that was burned down in 1938.
The location where a small, unobtrusive building has been standing since 1968 looked a lot different some 80 years ago. In 1938, at Bethlehemstrasse 26 in the center of Linz, stood a temple of considerable size, built in neo-classical style. At that time, the Jewish community of Linz counted some 800 members. On November 10, during the “Night of Broken Glass”, the impressive building was set on fire and completely destroyed.
So history meets the future when insights into the no longer existing building are made possible. The architecture graduate René Mathe researched the data and facts regarding the destroyed synagogue in Linz in his thesis at the Vienna Technical University (TU Wien) and visualized the entire building inside and out.
His images are on display at Ars Electronica’s Deep Space and enable a virtual tour through the former rooms. “I spent a lot of time in archives in Linz, screening old building plans, photos, aerial photography, and textual descriptions,” Mathe remembers. The cooperation with AEC was realized through his professor at TU; he expects the visualization to have an “effect like standing directly in the synagogue.”
The foundation for the virtual reconstruction of destroyed synagogues in Europe was already laid in Darmstadt in 1995. In 1998, the Vienna Technical University adopted this thought and in the meantime, a substantial number of buildings have been reconstructed virtually. Thus, at least a small part of this lost cultural heritage can be brought to life again.
The synagogue in Linz was constructed in 1877 in neo-roman style under the direction of the Oberösterreichische Baugesellschaft (Construction Company of Upper Austria). The synagogue in Kassel served as an architectural model. The goal was to mirror the social standing of Jews in the architecture of the building.
The reconstruction of the Linz synagogue is complemented by photographs of a Thora curtain, a marriage certificate, a Thora pointer, and a Thora breastplate – all exhibits from the Jewish Museum Vienna, recorded by the renowned photographer Lois Lammerhuber.
This also explains the side trip by Danielle Spera, former ZIB (Austrian prime time TV news) anchor and today director of the Jewish Museum Vienna: “I will enjoy speaking about the Jewish Community in Linz, the synagogue and the objects we present at Deep Space. My personal connection to the Jewish Community Linz is our friendship with the family of George Wozasek, the longtime president of the Jewish Community in Linz, who unfortunately passed away recently; the exchanges of ideas with him were very valuable for me personally. This project is important to me, because it affords the possibility to introduce many young people who visit Deep Space to the history and the fate of Linz’ Jewry – including information about the loss the Shoa has caused.