Historical and Commemorative Medals
 Collection of Benjamin Weiss


WIENER, Jacques: Germany, 1861, Bronze, 59 mm
Obv: View of the exterior    SYNAGOGE ZU COELN EINGEWEIHT AM 29 AUGUST 1861
Rev: View of interior Hebrew inscriptions, translated on the right as, "Abraham Oppenheim Built a House of God for the People of Cologne"; and on the left as, " It was Rededicated on the 23rd of Elul. Remember that God is good."
Signed:  J. WIENER F.
Ref:  Van Hoydonck #182;  Reinecke 61;  Europese Penningen #71;  Eidlitz, 187/1109; Weiss BW656

This medal commemorates the building of the conservative synagogue in der Glockengasse (the Bell Lane) in Cologne. Funding for the new synagogue was provided by Abraham Oppenheim (whose name is mentioned in the Hebrew inscription), a son of the banker Salomon Oppenheim. The inauguration of this magnificent, neoislamic synagogue took place in 1861. It had seats for 226 men and 140 women.

The Synagogue in Cologne, along with many other Jewish institutions, was sacked and burned by the Nazis in 1938, during what is commonly known as "Kristallnacht" (Night of the Broken Glass). Cologne's Modern Opera now sits on the site of the 19th century Glockengasse Synagogue.  The synagogue was never rebuilt.

As the last month of the Jewish year, Elul, mentioned in the Hebrew inscription, is traditionally a time of introspection and stocktaking -- a time to review one's deeds and spiritual progress over the past year and to prepare for the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

E. F. ZWIRNER, whose name is inscribed in the exergue of the obverse of the medal, is Ernst Friedrich Zwirner (1802-1861). He was the architect responsible for the construction of the synagogue. Zwirner, a master builder of cathedrals, also built the Cathedral at Cologne and the Apollinariskirche at Remagen. His works won him great honor and distinction. It is said that his devotion to the work of restoring the Cologne Cathedral was so great that many of his contemporaries felt his zeal had hastened his death (Eidlitz).

LINK to History of Jews in Cologne (from Wikipedia).

LINK to Virtual Reconstruction of Synagogues (you tube)