Cologne museum to show long Jewish ties to the city

Sat Jun 14, 2008 12:13pm EDT
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By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN (Reuters) - A new Cologne museum will show how Jewish life in the city goes back more than 1,700 years and, civic leaders hope, help revive it decades after the Holocaust.

An archaeological site from Roman times will be at the heart of the museum which the organizers also want to illustrate modern Jewish life and customs.

The strongly Catholic city, best known for its Gothic cathedral, claims to have the oldest Jewish community north of the Alps, dating back to at least 321, during Emperor Constantine's reign.

"This project is extremely important to show that Jews have been in Germany for as long as Christians -- people in this country should be made more aware of that," Wilfried Rogasch, head of the project, told Reuters.

Late on Friday, a jury chose German architects Wandel Hoefer Lorch + Hirsch to design the museum due to open in 2010 or soon thereafter. It is being financed partly by a private foundation and partly by the city.

The same architects designed an award-winning synagogue in Dresden which opened in 2001 and a Jewish centre in Munich.

"The concept is for an integrated project which will bind together the archaeological remains and the museum which will bring us to the modern day," Rogasch said.

The remains include a synagogue and a "mikwe," or Jewish ritual bath house, and the museum will be suspended over the site, said Rogasch.   Continued...