A small, half-timbered building in Telgte, a town in western Germany near Munster, that once housed a synagogue will undergo renovation work thanks to a €50,000 grant from the private, non-profit German Foundation for Monuments Protection.
The grant was announced by the Foundation in late January, stating that the funds were made available from donations and from the GlücksSpirale lottery.
It said the core of the building, hidden today in a courtyard behind modern residential buildings in the town’s historic center, was constructed around the year 1500, originally for use as a two-storey storage facility. (One of the oldest buildings in the town, it is registered as a local monument.)
The building’s Jewish owners expanded it and converted into a synagogue and Jewish school around 1740, making it one of the oldest synagogue buildings in the region. At the time, according to the Erinnerung und Mahnung Association, which promotes and preserves Jewish heritage in Telgte, the Jewish community consisted of eight families.
The synagogue was used for worship unti 1875, when a larger new synagogue opened — this new synagogue was torched and burned on the Reichspogrom night — Kristallnacht — in November 1938, and a memorial stands on its site.
After 1875, the old synagogue was purchased by the Auerbach family, which used as their kosher slaughterhouse until the 1930s. it came under non-Jewish ownership and was used as a laundry and for storage.
The association Remembrance and Mahnung, which researchers, promotes, and commemorates Jewish heritage in the town, would like to expand this historic building, which today is privately owned, into a museum for the history of the Jews in Telgte.
The grant announcement said only a few features of the old synagogue remain:
The niche for the Ark is still preserved. In the west there was a women’s gallery […]. A new upper door presumably gave access via an outer staircase. Window frames from this construction phase are still preserved.