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Jewish heritage and General Dresden
Meissen, the porcelain town
Victor Klemperer’s Dresden
We also wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed the tour with our guide from your company. Our experience was very moving and definitely the highlight of our trip ... I’m so glad we followed your advice – thank you for being persistent!
Shelly and Alan Dessen
Known as the ‘Florence on the Elbe,’ Dresden is one of Europe’s most beautiful and culturally rich cities. August the Strong of the Wettin Dynasty brought unparalleled riches to the capital of Saxony during the 18th century. With the invention of European porcelain referred to as ‘white gold,’ he made his fortune and collected gold, jewels, ivory and art masterpieces. His financier, the Court Jew Berend Lehmann, is considered to be the patriarch of the modern Jewish community. An important historical marker for the community was the establishment of Saxony’s first Jewish cemetery in 1751; located in Dresden Neustadt, it can still be visited today.
The Semper Opera, the magnificent Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche) and the Baroque Zwinger are among the world’s most impressive feats of architecture. The old Semper Synagogue was destroyed by the Nazis during Kristallnacht in November 1938. One of the most impressive testimonies detailing the life and persecution of Dresden’s 5400 strong pre-Shoah Jewish community are the diaries of Victor Klemperer. Virtually destroyed in a massive bombing raid in February 1945, postwar Dresden lay dormant in former Eastern Germany. After the reunification it has risen like a phoenix out of its own ashes, and visitors can once again enjoy its Baroque beauty. Like the city itself, the Jewish community of Dresden has recently experienced a renaissance attested to by the rebuilding of the unique New Synagogue with its golden tent-like inner structure suggesting both flexibility and stability. The building won an architectural prize in 2002 and hosted the first ordination of rabbis in Germany since WWII. Daniel Libeskind has also left his architectural mark on this city, cutting a wedge, both literally and figuratively through the Military History Museum.
Visiting the community center, one can enjoy the welcoming atmosphere of a small but flourishing Jewish community. Dresden lies halfway between Prague and Berlin and invites its visitors for a worthwhile stopover in its revived cultural and architectural center.
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