Jewish Heritage Europe

Croatia — New synagogue planned on site of destroyed synagogue in Zagreb


According to the Croatia Times, work is to begin “this year” on a long-planned new synagogue on the site of the main synagogue in Zagreb that was destroyed during World War II. The project had been under consideration since first suggested in 1986, and particularly since the site, at 7 Praska street, was returned to Jewish ownership in 1999.

It quotes Jewish Community in Zagreb president Ognjen Kraus as saying that the community “will build a small synagogue in commemoration of the one that was previously there.”

The original synagogue was designed by the architect Franjo Klein and built in 1867. The design was influenced by Ludwig von Forster’s Tempelgasse synagogue in Vienna. (The established Jewish community in Zagreb uses the facade as its logo.)  It was destroyed at the end of 1941/beginning of 1942, on the orders of Ivan Werner, the Ustasha Mayor of Zagreb. (Pictures taken by an anonymous photographer exist, showing various stages of the demolition.) A shopping center was built on the site after the war, but it burned down and in recent years the site has been used as a parking lot. A memorial plaque on the wall of an adjoining building commemorates the synagogue.

Postcard of the Zagreb synagogue in 1906. Photo from Jewish community Zagreb

The question of just what to build on the site has been a major point of reference for local Jews and a significant issue for the city. A wide-ranging public debate took place in the 2000s about whether a totally new, modern building should be erected or whether the new structure should recreate the facade of the destroyed landmark. Plans have been stalled, however, partially due to a split within the Jewish community, resulting in the formation of the Bet Israel community, which broke away from the established community in 2005.




2 comments on “Croatia — New synagogue planned on site of destroyed synagogue in Zagreb

  1. Zagreb deserves a beautiful synagogue that relates to Croatian history, heritage and artistic aspirations.
    Unfortunately so many of the modern synagogues in Germany are ultra- modern, stark, brutal edifices that do not relate to German history, it’s architectural development (in time) and also the massive Jewish contribution to it’s development in history.

  2. It is esential that the historical context of the original beautiful Zagreb synagogue be reconstructed in the new building. This will honour the place that the Jewish community have played in the development of the city (and country!). A place that will be represented by this building once again taking its place within the historic fabric of Zagreb and that place cannot be destroyed by the black years of World War Two.

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