Station: [22] The Synagogue

M: Today, the Capitol is the place where singer Marc Almond performs, where comedian Hazel Brugger cracks her dry jokes and the ballet company performs Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker. But from 1916 to 1938, it was where the Jewish community worshipped, because the building you see here was once a synagogue. Take a look at your smartphone’s screen to see a model.
F: After the old synagogue in Grosse Marktstrasse had become too small for the rapidly growing Jewish community, this synagogue was built between 1912 and 1916. The façade is made of shell limestone. The dome in the centre is 30 metres or almost a hundred feet tall, and the architectural style is reminiscent of a monumental building in ancient Greece or Rome. The synagogue was able to accommodate 512 men, with room for 332 women on the gallery.

M: Given its size and grandeur, the new place of worship epitomised the equality of Jews in Offenbach society. At the opening, the leader of the Jewish community spoke of "stepping out of the shadows into the sunlight".

F: During Pogrom Night – the night of the 9th of November 1938 – the synagogue was desecrated by the Nazis. They set a fire that destroyed religious symbols as well as most of the interior furnishings. However, they took care not to damage the building’s impressive outer shell. 

M: Just a month later, the Jewish community was forced to sell the building. In 1940, the National Theatre opened within those august walls. There’s every indication that the misappropriation of the synagogue had been planned by the Nazis. 

F: After the war, the Jewish community was reduced to just 18 members. In 1959, that community built a smaller synagogue diagonally opposite, in Kaiserstrasse, the first to be erected in Hessen after the Second World War. That’s where the Jewish community worships today. 

M: Ownership of the synagogue desecrated by the Nazis ultimately passed to the city of Offenbach in 1954, and the building was later turned into a theatre dedicated to the musical. From 1995 to 1996, the venue celebrated a major success with the musical "Tommy" by The Who. But it still went bankrupt.

F: In 1998, the venue opened under new management as The Capitol.


Foto 1: © Dagmar Trüpschuch
Foto 2: ©  Haus der Stadtgeschichte