Artists Rebuild Polish Synagogue Inside Hitler’s Castle

The Nazis turned Poznan’s Great Synagogue into a swimming pool. Photo courtesy of the Castle Culture Centre, Poznan.

A clever art project from German artists Horst Hoheisel and Andreas Knitz has resulted in a charged architectural mash-up, recreating portions of a Jewish synagogue from Poznan, Poland, in a nearby castle that served as Adolf Hitler’s office and official residence during the Nazi occupation in World War II, reports the Art Newspaper.

The piece is part of “The Eye of Memory” on view at Poznan’s Castle Culture Center through October 12. After the Nazis invaded Poland, they transformed Poznan’s Great Synagogue, which dates back to 1907, into a public swimming pool and spa. In 1939, Poznan’s imperial castle was converted into an official residence for the Führer, with the building’s chapel hosting a duplicate of his office in the Reich’s chancellery.

The synagogue actually continued to serve as a municipal pool for many years, only closing in 2011 because the building had deteriorated. The castle, heavily damaged at the end of the war, was refurbished and reopened as the Castle Culture Center.

“It was no coincidence that the Nazis built Hitler’s office in a former chapel. It was about the consecration of their government and its empowerment. At the same time, they deconsecrated a place that was holy to Jewish people,” Anna Hryniewiecka, the Castle’s director, told TAN. “Now, through the fragments of the synagogue, the artists will deconsecrate Hitler’s former office. It’s a very symbolic gesture.”

The exhibition will also include another of Hoheisel and Knitz’s subversive “counter-monuments,” Monument of Grey Buses (2006), which represents the vehicles used by the Nazis to transport disabled adults and children to concentration camps, where they became victims of the Holocaust. The second piece will be installed outside of the castle.

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