Michelsberg Synagogue in
A Virtual Reconstruction
For the 9/10th of November 1998 - 60 years after the
persecution of German Jews became murderous - a spectacular project of
remembrance was started. It brought together a group of teachers and students
under the name of “memo 38” at the
With history in mind they set out to gather a mosaic
of information. Since there do not exist any remains
or plans of the synagogue, the reconstruction could make use of only some old
photographs, post cards, rough drawings and historic text documents. Thanks
to communication with many sources, archives, and especially people it was
possible to collect numerous facts about the synagogue and gain new insides.
Working for two years, using modern computer techniques, and constantly in
search for sponsors, they created a virtual reconstruction of the beautiful Michelsberg Synagogue. The results are stunning and were
displayed as video on a large screen directly at the site on
The study released discussions and intensive dealing with the recent past. Trying to virtually reconstruct and visualize what has been made unrecognizable may keep memory alive against forgetting.
History of the site in 133 years
Images from the early twentieth century show how the
synagogue had been well blended into the
In the night of November 9th, hundreds of
The ruined building was demolished and removed in
summer of 1939.
The pedestal base was finally removed after the war. At this time the road was enlarged. Subsequently, all visible traces of the synagogue disappeared.
During the fifties and sixties the site was a small park “Heinrich Heine Anlage” and a stone sculpture was put up. Once a year in November an hour of remembrance took place. Considering what happened afterwards, the site was at least kept free as a place of respect to its historical relevance.
In the early 1970's, as part of a traffic plan, a road bridge was built across the site. The existing stone memento was moved behind the overpass and people forgot about the existence of the synagogue.
In the last two decades, proposals have been made to
redesign the site, including to tear down the
An installation called FRAGMENTS consisting of
several elements was erected by the architect Heinrich Lessing
The “memo 38” film recreated the impression of the synagogue for the first time directly at the site during the commemoration of 9th of November. Again in 1999 and 2000 the virtual synagogue film was shown in front of the overpass on a large screen.
In April the demolition of the bridge began. A new chapter was opened.
2002In August the ”memo 38” show and film were opened in a new exhibition space at city hall.
In March 1998 Interior Design students started the "memo 38" group and began to work on the computer reconstruction of the destroyed Synagogue of Wiesbaden. The project was divided into two parts: For November 1998 the exterior was reconstructed, for November 1999 the interior of the synagogue was presented by a computer animated film. The name "memo 38" evokes memory, memorial, commemoration and "post it".
Since the construction files with plans and drawings
have been lost completely, the “memo38”
group’s research depended on collecting photographs gathered from local
citizens and information provided by historical institutions and archives.
First the search in
One turned up at the Jewish Museum in
The experience to connect to those, who actually still remember the original synagogue was very important for the students. Thus they learned about the passing of time. People get older and when they die, they take their memories with them. Now is the very last moment to receive authentic information from personal recollections.
The most moving encounters occurred with survivors
who had prayed and sung in the beautiful sanctuary. When they saw the work in
progress they often reacted emotionally.
Paulgerd Jesberg, teacher at the university, had prepared geometrical studies that sharpened the understanding of the building's proportions. By combining his information with a close analysis of the photographs, it was possible to determine scales and measurements.
Due to the architectural complexity of the synagogue, erected 1869 by Philipp Hoffmann in Moorish style, the computer reconstruction and visualization has been organized in two phases of representation, first the exterior, then the interior.
Next the building was divided into separate segments and each student was assigned a different segment for editing. An intensive analysis of each element and its ornaments with the magnifying glass followed. The next step was to develop construction drawings for scaling.
Once the modeling of each segment was completed,
they were reassembled to form a single wire frame model. Then the textures
were mapped over the frame and supplied exterior finishes to create the
building's skin. By using some original water-colored design sketches by the
architect Philipp Hoffmann a RGB-color range was
developed to create the most realistic color impression of the interior
decoration. As a next step the storyboard was developed, different
camera tracks were checked and the scene design, lights, and atmosphere were
created. After the rendering the computer animation was edited at a
postproduction studio in
The content of the project is not nearly an abstract
architectural object. This film is a visible, virtual and enduring memorial
After more than 12.000 hours of work the project was
completed. A number of Jews from
In August 2002 the ”memo 38” show and film were opened in a new exhibition space at city hall.
A project of the Department of Interior Design
University of Applied Sciences
Department of Interior Design
Unter den Eichen 5
65195 Wiesbaden /Germany.
Fon: +49 (0) 611 / 1880 171
Fax: +49 (0) 611 / 1880 173
Dipl. Des. Edgar Brück
Dipl. Ing. Paulgerd Jesberg
Prof. Dr. Ing. Falk Krebs
computer reconstruction and animation:
Dipl. Ing. Claudia Bube
Ing. Yiliu Fan
camera and cut:
IVT postproduction house GmbH
IVT postproduction house GmbH
Dipl. Ing. Renate Scheurer
Dipl. Ing. Heinrich Lessing
Dr. Jacov Gutmark
Dipl. Des. Bodo Keller, UPSTART!
Dipl. Des. Cornelius Breymann
Prof. Dipl. Des. Christine Wagner
Dipl. Päd. Gesine Werner
We are grateful for cooperation
Without the financial, technical and logistical support of many institutions, archives, and companies the project would not have been possible with this high standard. We would like to thank everyone who has been helpful.