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Germany

Brandenburg sees first synagogue since Holocaust

The northeastern German state of Brandenburg has welcomed its first synagogue since before the Holocaust, which saw 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazi regime. The Jewish community there was reestablished in 1998.

In a symbolic handing-over of keys on Sunday, the Jewish community of Cottbus in Brandenburg, northeast Germany, was presented with the premises for a new synagogue - the first to exist in the city since November 9, 1938. The night, which came to be known as "Kristallnacht" or "Night of Broken Glass," saw a series of coordinated attacks throughout Nazi Germany and Austria against Jewish homes, synagogues, businesses, schools and hospitals.

"Following the destruction of the synagogue by the Nazis, the handing over of keys marks the beginning of a new chapter in the lives of Jewish people in Brandenburg," Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg reported Petra Budke, the chairperson of Brandenburg's Green party, as saying.

Reestablished Jewish community

Cottbus' Schlosskirche, meaning castle church, will be converted into a synagogue. The church previously belonged to the city's Evangelical Christian community, but for decades, has been used for social activities and projects. The new synagogue is scheduled to be officially inaugurated on 27 January 2015, to coincide with International Holocaust Memorial Day.

"It's lovely that the building will become a place of worship again," said Ulrike Menzel, who has led the Evangelical parish in Cottbus since 2009.

The city's Jewish population, which reestablished itself in 1998, now has more than 400 members.

ksb/sb (epd, dpa)

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