| Philosophische Fakultät, SPF Wissen. Räume. Medien., Forschung

Virtual reconstruction of the Great Synagogue offers exciting insights into history

In the theme year "Nine Centuries of Jewish Life in Thuringia", an innovative project brings the time of the awakening 150 years ago to life: the virtual reconstruction of the Great Synagogue. The University of Erfurt is also involved.

Große Synagoge Erfurt
Source: Erfurt City Archive

The legal equality of Jews after 1871 opened up opportunities for their social emancipation. Their commitment changed art and culture, the economy and society. With the Great Synagogue, consecrated in 1884, the growing Jewish community in Erfurt created its religious and cultural centre. But the National Socialists destroyed this rich Jewish life in Thuringia. An interactive virtual reality application now brings the Great Synagogue, destroyed in the November pogrom of 1938, back to the city's memory.

Logo "Neun Jahre jüdisches Leben in Thüringen"

The project "Virtual Reconstruction of the Great Synagogue of Erfurt" makes it possible for the first time to experience one of the destroyed synagogues in Thuringia again.  A virtual reality (VR) environment is used in which the viewers experience the illusion of a realistic historical perception of space: With the help of VR glasses and hand controllers, they can travel back in time and experience the Great Synagogue as it was before its destruction. For this purpose, the building, but also its furnishings and important objects of Jewish life are defined and then transferred into an interactive room. This room can then be explored individually in its original size. In addition, historical contexts, but also rites and customs of Jewish life in and around a synagogue are explained.

The virtual reality application of the Great Synagogue of Erfurt will be presented to the public on 5 September 2021, the European Day of Jewish Culture, at 5 pm in the Small Synagogue in Erfurt.

Visitors to the Small Synagogue and guests of the Jewish Community in the New Synagogue will be able to use the VR glasses from that time on. At the same time, a web 3D model of the Great Synagogue of Erfurt will be accessible at www.juedisches-leben-thueringen.de and www.juedisches-leben.erfurt.de.

The Research Unit for Historical Media at the University of Erfurt has created the Instagram channel "Jewish Life in 3D", which will be launched on 1 March and will provide ongoing information about the project on the topics of knowledge, places, portraits, culture and current events.

The interdisciplinary cooperation project, which was realised in close cooperation with the Jewish Community of Thuringia, is funded by the Thuringian State Chancellery. The project is managed by the History Museums of the State Capital Erfurt, PD Dr. Annegret Schüle, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary History. In addition to the University of Erfurt, cooperation partners are the departments of Applied Computer Science and Architecture at the University of Applied Sciences Erfurt and the State Digitisation Centre at the Thuringian University and State Library/Friedrich Schiller University Jena.

Contact person:
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Annegret Schüle (Project Management / Senior Curator Modern and Contemporary History of the History Museums of the State Capital Erfurt)
Phone: +49 361 655-1680
E-mail: annegret.schuele@erfurt.de

Contact persons at the University of Erfurt are Prof. Dr. Christiane Kuller and Prof. Dr. Patrick Rössler.