The Jewish community in Breslau, which was the third-largest in the German Reich in 1925, was forgotten for many years. However, after 1989, new interest in local history began to emerge in Wrocław, Poland. Nowadays, monuments and a commemorative procession serve as reminders of the Jewish people who lived in Breslau (the pre-1945 German name for Wrocław) during the pre-war period.
In addition to museum exhibits and displays in city institutions, the centers of many German towns are home to monuments to remember the events of the Nazi era. It is not just memorials and information boards - small brass-colored “Stolpersteine” (which literally translates as stumbling blocks)(1), based on a design by artist Gunter Demnig, have also been set into the pavements in front of the last homes of former Jewish residents. They serve as a reminder of history and encourage reflection and commemoration. Sites of remembrance like these in urban landscapes have been created over the course of several decades and bear witness to the intensity of the discourse concerning the history of National Socialism in local towns and cities.
Unlike in these cities, the Jewish victims from the Lower Silesian city of 
deu. Breslau, lat. Wratislavia, lat. Vratislavia, ces. Vratislav

Wrocław (German: Breslau) is one of the largest cities in Poland (population in 2022: 674,079). It is located in the Lower Silesian Voivodeship in the southwest of the country.
Initially under Bohemian, Piast and at other times Hungarian rule, the Habsburgs took over the Silesian territories in 1526, including Wrocław. Another turning point in the city's history was the occupation of Wroclaw by Prussian troops in 1741 and the subsequent incorporation of a large part of Silesia into the Kingdom of Prussia.
The dramatic increase in population and the fast-growing industrialization led to the rapid urbanization of the suburbs and their incorporation, which was accompanied by the demolition of the city walls at the beginning of the 19th century. By 1840, Breslau had already grown into a large city with 100,000 inhabitants. At the end of the 19th century, the cityscape, which was often still influenced by the Middle Ages, changed into a large city in the Wilhelmine style. The highlight of the city's development before the First World War was the construction of the Exhibition Park as the new center of Wrocław's commercial future with the Centennial Hall from 1913, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006.
In the 1920s and 30s, 36 villages were incorporated and housing estates were built on the outskirts of the city. In order to meet the great housing shortage after the First World War, housing cooperatives were also commissioned to build housing estates.
Declared a fortress in 1944, Wrocław was almost completely destroyed during the subsequent fightings in the first half of 1945. Reconstruction of the now Polish city lasted until the 1960s.
Of the Jewish population of around 20,000, only 160 people found their way back to the city after the Second World War. Between 1945 and 1947, most of the city's remaining or returning - German - population was forced to emigrate and was replaced by people from the territory of the pre-war Polish state, including the territories lost to the Soviet Union.
After the political upheaval of 1989, Wrocław rose to new, impressive heights. The transformation process and its spatial consequences led to a rapid upswing in the city, supported by Poland's accession to the European Union in 2004. Today, Wrocław is one of the most prosperous cities in Poland.

were completely forgotten about for a long period of time - both locally in the town that became known as Wrocław, Poland after 1945, and in Germany. When the Second World War began, Breslau had the third-largest Jewish population within the German Reich (around 24,000 people), third only to the large cities of Berlin and Frankfurt. This Breslau community was wiped out during the Holocaust - the Breslau Jews were victims of the National Socialist policy of exterminating the Jews, just like Jews in Munich, Hamburg, and elsewhere in Germany and Europe. The former Jewish community was then simply forgotten about due to a number of factors, including the fact that the city’s post-war residents were completely different to those who had lived there prior to the war, the Cold War, the removal of local German history from the now-Polish town of Wrocław, and the lack of a local Jewish population to preserve the memory.
The 1960s: The first monument
The Polish Jews who moved from different parts of Poland to the city after the Second World War - including those from the Eastern regions of Poland that were lost to the Soviet Union (known as kresy in Polish) - considered the German Jews who had survived to be first and foremost German, and saw their experiences during the Nazi period as part of German history. Their own remembrance was for the Polish Jews who had been exterminated, for example those killed during the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943. Twenty years after the war, this remembrance was manifested with the erection of a monument dedicated to the “Heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto” on “Plac Bohaterów Getta” - Ghetto Heroes' Square. This square was actually an important site in the history of the local Breslau Jews: Its location on what used to be known as Judenplatz (or Jewish Square in English, also called Lassalleplatz and Karlsplatz) lies close to the Prussian royal residence and the city center markets on the Ring and Salzring, and used to be home to lots of Jewish families, several synagogues, numerous kosher shops, and Jewish social institutions. It was also the birthplace of Ferdinand Lassalle (1825-1864), one of the most well-known Jews from Breslau, who is buried in the old Jewish cemetery on Ślężna.  The memorial stone for the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto was erected on the site of the Zülz Synagogue (named after the Upper Silesian town of
deu. Zülz

Zülz (Biała) is a small town in southern Poland, located in the Opole Voivodeship near the border with the Czech Republic. In 2021 it had a population of 2,336. Founded in the 13th century, Biała has been part of Poland, Austria, Prussia and Germany throughout history. After the Second World War, the city was restored to its original name (Biała) and returned to Polish ownership.

or Biała in Polish) from 1732 to 1893. In the 1970s, the synagogue had to make way for the new road linking east and west (now known as Kazimierza Wielkiego), and was relocated a few meters in the direction of the Ring. But who knew about this square’s Jewish history when the memorial was inaugurated in 1963? And who is aware of it today? Although there have been many publications about the city’s Jewish history since then, this history is likely only familiar to very few residents of Wrocław. As a result, the memorial stone serves only indirectly as a memorial to the history of the Breslau Jews living in the city prior to the Second World War.
Initiatives to create a new memorial landscape
It wasn’t until after 1989 that a new urban culture of remembrance developed in Wrocław. There was great interest in local history around this time - even the non-Polish aspects, such as those concerning Jewish and German influences. In the early 1990s, and inspired by this new interest in the history of the city's concrete streets, squares and buildings, the idea arose to rebuild the former Jewish quarter around the streets of Włodkowica, Antoniego and Ruska, as well as the former Karlsplatz, and to establish a “Quarter of Mutual Respect” (Dzielnica wzajemnego szacunku in Polish). This district in Wrocław, which is also known as the “Tolerance Quarter,” is home to four places of worship that lie in close proximity: the former Protestant Court Church, the Catholic Church of St. Anthony, the Polish Orthodox Church of the Birth of the Holy Mother, and the White Stork Synagogue. Members of the four communities began to meet up and share ideas, to celebrate one another’s holy days and festivals, and to sing together in a choir. The city’s marketing department created guided tours to encourage visitors to explore the district and to present Wrocław as a tolerant city. There had been some precursors to this mutual cooperation prior to the Second World War: Representatives of the ecumenical “Una Sancta” group met up with Catholic priest Hermann Hoffmann (1878-1972), Jewish historian Willy Cohn (1888-1941), and others on Włodkowica.
Jerzy Kichler (born in 1947), who came to Wrocław in 1985, was one of the most important figures in this cooperation between people of different faiths in the “Mutual Respect Quarter.” He was also one of the key figures in the city’s Jewish community (he was a board member of Wrocław Jewish Community between 1992 and 2006, including as Chair from 1999 to 2003.) He also successfully campaigned for the White Stork Synagogue to be rescued from demolition. Kichler also went in search of traces of the Holocaust in Wrocław - despite this plight largely (if not exclusively) focusing on the history of Breslau’s German Jews. He identified the inner courtyard of the community complex on Włodkowica - home to the White Stork Synagogue - as an important place of remembrance. Not only did the most important pre-war Jewish institutions and Jewish community organizations have their headquarters here, this was also the place where the Nazis ordered Jews to meet before they were deported. They were then taken from this meeting point to the train station. Kichler designed a memorial plaque for the victims of the deportations, which was displayed on one side of the courtyard, on the Jewish Community building next to the small everyday synagogue. It was unveiled on Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, 1999.
Another monument can also be traced back to his efforts: A large memorial stone, which features inscriptions in Hebrew, Polish and German, was erected on November 9, 1998 to commemorate the former New Synagogue Am Anger (or Łąkowa in Polish). This was once the second-largest synagogue in Germany and symbolized the importance of the Breslau Jewish community more than any other building in the city. It was destroyed on Kristallnacht in 1938.
An annual memorial procession on November 9th
In 1994, the two memorial sites at the White Stork Synagogue on Włodkowica and on the site of the former New Synagogue Am Anger became the start and end of a memorial march. Back in 1983, Kichler had organized a march in Cracow in memory of the local victims of the Holocaust, based on the 1963 “March on Washington”. The very first “March of Mutual Respect” between the two monuments took place in Wrocław on November 9, 1994. Since then, a growing number of people (more than 500 in 2018) have walked through the streets on the evening of November 9th, supported by the public and joined by the respective city mayors. Other, often barely visible memorial sites are now also included in the route, such as the empty square on Włodkowica (which is now a car park.) It used to be home to the Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau until the 1960s. Students from all over Europe came here between 1854 and 1938 to train to become rabbis, and the site still represents the history of Jewish Breslau on the global stage. In 1938, the Nazis forced the Seminar to close. Its library collections were subsequently scattered all over the world. In 2004, Jerzy Kichler managed to return some of the lost treasures from Prague National Library to Wrocław and into the possession of the local Jewish community. These included valuable manuscripts from the Leon Vital Saraval Collection. They are now professionally archived in the University Library. Jerzy Kichler is determined that the current Jewish community in Poland does not forget the traditions of the pre-war German Breslau community, and instead seeks to build bridges between the two groups of Jews, despite the differences in time, nationality, and language.
Preserved Jewish sites
The many buildings belonging to the Jewish pre-war community that have been preserved in the city also represent a visible bridge across the ages. These include the now restored White Stork Synagogue with its everyday synagogue and mikveh mikveh The mikveh is - along with the synagogue and the cemetery - an important institution of Jewish communities. It is a bath that is used for ritual purposes and serves religious purification. The immersion bath is visited by Jewish believers e.g. before holidays or before marriage, after birth and menstruation. , as well as several other buildings on Włodkowica, plus the former Israelite Hospital, the former Jewish orphanage on Grabiszyńska, the former Rehdiger School on Pereca square, the old and new Jewish cemeteries, as well as residential buildings, former retirement homes, and community buildings. Some of these buildings were also used by the National Socialists between 1941 and 1945 as “Jewish houses.” The Nazis forced members of the Jewish population to live together in close quarters before they were deported from urban areas.
A memorial plaque for victims of the deportation
In 2018, on the initiative of Rita Kratzenberg, who was born in Wrocław, a memorial plaque(8) was unveiled at Dworzec Nadodrze train station (formerly Odertor train station) for the more than 7,000 Jewish victims who were deported from Wrocław, before being murdered at concentration camps such as Kaunas, Lublin, Auschwitz, and Theresienstadt. Odertor train station was a site of Jewish persecution and extermination in the middle of the city. The commemorative plaque features inscriptions in Polish, German, English, and Hebrew, and was the product of cooperation between German and Polish communities. The German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media, the Silesian Museum in 
pol. Zgorzelec

Görlitz is a city in the federal state of Saxony in Germany. It is the easternmost city in Germany and lies opposite the Polish city of Zgorzelec, which was the eastern part of Görlitz until 1945. The town has a population of around 56,000. Its recorded history began in the 11th century as a Sorbian settlement. Throughout its history it has been under German, Czech (Bohemian), Polish and Hungarian rule. From 1815 to 1918, Görlitz belonged to the Province of Silesia in the Kingdom of Prussia, and later to the Province of Lower Silesia in the Free State of Prussia. Görlitz was part of East Germany from 1949 until German reunification in 1990.

, the City Museum of Wrocław, the City of Wrocław, and the Bente Kahan Foundation were all involved. Rita Kratzenberg’s initiative had a very personal background: Her grandparents, Bertha and Ludwig Neustadt, were deported from this station in May 1942 (it is now known that they were sent to Lublin District.) Her mother (who was pregnant with Rita at the time) had to watch her in-laws being deported from the train station, without being able to help them in any way. She suffered all her life as a result of this. Her stories about the traumatic experience moved her youngest daughter Rita so much that she became determined to organize the placement of a plaque to commemorate Breslau’s deportation victims at the train station.
Under the direction of artist Bente Kahan, the Jewish Education Center on Włodkowica has spent years building bridges between the small Polish post-war community and the once large and important pre-war community with its exhibitions, concerts, and educational events. This work has created genuine links to the city’s pre-war Jewish history, so the Jews from Breslau who were murdered during the Holocaust can be remembered.

Siehe auch