Open Letter

In July 2011, the Cologne city council passed a resolution calling for the establishment of a Museum of Jewish Culture on the site of archaeological investigations in front of City Hall. In recent months, a wide range of individuals and institutions has called this resolution into question.

While those who are questioning the resolution may be doing so for a variety of different reasons, they are united in their aim of preventing, postponing indefinitely or watering down the “Archaeological Zone – House and Museum of Jewish Culture”, as it has come to be known.

This applies to the latest intervention by Martin Stankowski and others: they want to see the plans redrawn and a totally new concept worked out. Those responsible for this new initiative say nothing about the costs, which would be immense.

But over and above the cost of new planning, everything argues in favour of the idea that the House and Museum of Jewish Culture should be an independent institution located in what was the Jewish quarter between late antiquity and the late Middle Ages. It should document the contribution of the Cologne’s Jewish citizens to the life of the city, not just in the time before the expulsion at the end of the Middle Ages, but also after their return at the start of the nineteenth century.

The House and Museum of Jewish Culture would be a clear commitment to a common history – a political signal which should not be watered down. It could be a place of meeting and active cultural exchange. Cologne has the unique chance of presenting Jewish life as an important part of the city’s past and present, and, once the site has been established, as a place where cultural encounter can take place.

We call on the Cologne city council to stand by its resolution and we call on the city administration to ensure that it is implement as soon as possible. We expect the city and the Rhineland cultural authority (Landschaftsverband Rheinland) to provide the public in the near future with information as to the current concept and the planning of the museum, as well as a clear timetable for its realization.

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