Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Remembering Berlin Architect Alexander Beer ( (10 September 1873 – 8 May 1944)

Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930.Photo: Abraham Pisarek
Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Photo: Abraham Pisarek
Berlin-Wilmersdorf ,Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Photo: Abraham Pisarek
Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Plan. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930.
Remembering Berlin Architect Alexander Beer ( (10 September 1873 – 8 May 1944)
by Samuel D. Gruber 

Today we remember the German-Jewish architect Alexander Beer (10 September 1873 – 8 May 1944), who died on this day in 1944 as a prisoner in the Terezin Ghetto.

Beer began his career as early as 1905 as a government architect for the state of Hesse (Grossherzoglicher Regierungsbaumeister.) Due to lack of opportunities he left this position to become Community Architect in Chief of the Jewish Community in Berlin where he was responsible for the designs of several synagogues and communal buildings including (list from Wikipedia).
His greatest work was the liberal Prinzregentenstrasse Synagoguein in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, inaugurated on 16 September 1930).

Berlin-Wilmersdorf ,Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue, dedication on 16 September 1930. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Photo: Abraham Pisarek
Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Interior view to Ark. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Photo: Abraham Pisarek

The Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue included a large sanctuary space with a massive hemispherical dome set begin a street wall facade. Beer's monumental design recalls ancient and neo-classical buildings from the Pantheon to Schinkel's Berlin Altes Museum. This is typical of Beer's work which might be called "traditional modern." He uses many of the simplified and stripped down forms popular in interwar modernism, but the facade of the Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue draws on Romanesque forms - popular in German synagogue design since the early 1800s. Like many architects of the time - including many  architects popular under fascism - he still relies of traditional forms.
Sadly, after less than a decade of use, the new synagogue was destroyed by Berlin Nazis on Kristallnacht on November 9, 1938.
Berlin-Wilmersdorf ,Germany. Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Rally for Palestine of the Berlin Jewish Community, 4 May 1936. .Photo: Abraham Pisarek
For more images of the building by Abraham Pisarek go here
All of Beer's works were seriously damaged under the Nazi regime., and before he was deported to Terezin, he was forced to change the ruins of the burned synagogue into a granary. A memorial plaque at Prinzregentenstr. 69–70 commemorates the destroyed building.
Berlin-Wilmersdorf Germany. Location of former Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Photo: District Office, KHMM
Berlin-Wilmersdorf Germany. Memorial plaque ar location of former Prinzregentenstrasse Synagogue. Alexander Beer, architect, 1930. Photo: District Office, KHMM

To learn more about Beer see:

Bothe, Rolf , ed.  Synagogen in Berlin. Zur Geschichte einer zerstörten Architektur. [Katalog zur Ausst. Berlin, 1983]. (Berlin: Arenhövel, 1983).

Lammel, Inge: Alexander Beer, Baumeister der Berliner Jüdischen Gemeinde. (Berlin: Hentrich & Hentrich 2006).


Wahrhaftig, Myra. Deutsche jüdische Architekten vor und nach 1933 - Das Lexikon.

(Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 2005).


No comments: