City archaeologists in Frankfurt have uncovered the foundations of the synagogue in the city’s Höchst neighborhood, which was built in 1905 on what is now Ettinghausen-Platz and destroyed on Kristallnacht, November 1938. Höchst was an independent town until incorporated into Frankfurt in 1928.
Local media reported that excavations had begun April 7. Excavation director Elke Sichert said it appeared that after the synagogue was razed, the Nazis had simply paved over the ruins, leaving much of the foundations and basement level intact. She said it was “much less destroyed” than had been feared.
The Frankfurt Monuments Office took a small group of media, Jewish representatives and activists on a tour of the site earlier this month; the group included Mayor Uwe Becker — who posted about it on Facebook. Becker is also commissioner of the Hesse federal state government for Jewish life and the fight against antisemitism.
The city plans to develop the square into a memorial site, which will incorporate the synagogue ruins.
Already in November 2010 — on the anniversary of Kristallnacht — a virtual reconstruction of the synagogue was created and mounted on Ettinghausen Platz as an installation called “Telescopes into the Past.” Two telescopes were placed on the square, through which visitors could look and see the virtual reconstruction of both the exterior and interior of the synagogue. The stainless steel posts supporting the telescopes also bore information boards with texts about the history and virtual reconstruction, which was created by Architectura Virtualis, a partner of the Darmstadt Technical University, for the Frankfurt Cultural Heritage Department.
The Culture Department said little material about the synagogue had been found, and architect Dr. Marc Grellert from Arcitectura Virtualis had virtually reconstructed the destroyed interior on the basis of interviews with Jewish witnesses who were still living. Among other things, it said, “this resulted in the blue vaulted ceiling with stars, the color of the inner walls and the shape of the chandelier.”