Obj. ID: 30800
Modern Jewish Art Holocaust Memorial and monument to the destroyed Neolog Synagogue in Bratislava, Slovakia, 1996
No official name
Who is Commemorated?
105,000 Holocaust victims from Slovakia
At the far side of the square, set against the adjacent elevated highway as a backdrop to the memorial complex, is a large black granite wall etched with a silhouette of the destroyed synagogue.
In the center of the square is a bronze abstract sculptural monument that sits on a black granite platform with the inscribed exhortation “remember” in Hebrew (zachor) and Slovak (pamätaj). From the base, the sculpture rises like scaffolding with designs running up the vertical beam, from which hang large bronze frames that surround relief panels impressed with hand prints and the ghostly profiles of human figures. Above these, a large Magen David sits like a crown.
| Rybné Square
H | Human Figure
H | Human Figure | Hand
S | Synagogue
T | Train | Train tracks
H | Holocaust | Concentration camp | Barbed wire
The memorial complex was created in 1996 in the Old Town center of Bratislava by the Slovak Republic, on the site of the former Neolog Synagogue which was torn down in the Soviet period (not by the Nazis or their Slovak allies) to make way for a highway. After the fall of the communist government in 1989 young people painted a big picture of the former synagogue on the pavement of the square with the words “ Here stood a synagogue.” The site became an informal memorial recalling the crimes of fascist and communist regimes.
According to historian Maros Borsky, “The location was not selected accidentally. The Holocaust memorial was composed as a place of public remembrance, where two layers of history intertwine: the memory of the tragic event and the memory of the former Rybné Square synagogue, still remembered by many Bratislavians, and which can be often found on historical photos hanging in Bratislava cafés.”
The land on which the former synagogue stood is now owned by the Bratislava Municipality, which leases the site for an annual symbolical fee to the Museum of Jewish Culture, which maintains the memorial.
The monument is a striking piece of sculpture, and its placement, and the adjacent wall-size engraved image of the Great Synagogue, are very effective ways to enliven an otherwise near-dead space - a former plaza now cut through by a highway. However, there is no information or explanatory text near the monument to explain its purpose or more about the history it purports to recall.
Gruber, Ruth Ellen. Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Central and Eastern Europe, fourth edition (Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2007)., 187.
Gruber, Samuel D. “Slovakia: What’s Wrong with the Bratislava Holocaust Memorial?” Samuel Gruber’s Jewish Art & Monuments, June 17, 2009. , http://samgrubersjewishartmonuments.blogspot.com/2009/06/slovakia-whats-wrong-with-bratislava.html (accessed December 23, 2021)
“Holocaust Memorial Bratislava,” The Information Portal to European Sites of Remembrance, https://www.memorialmuseums.org/eng/denkmaeler/view/1500/Holocaust-Memorial-Bratislava (accessed May 7, 2023)