Can a ruin still be called a ruin once it has been rebuilt? This is the not-so-theoretical question that visitors to Jerusalem’s Jewish quarter may be asking after strolling by the construction site where the preserved remains of the Hurva (Ruin) synagogue used to stand.
Few subgenres of literature have been subjected to such longstanding critical scorn as alternate history. Despite the occasional publication of such masterpieces as Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel, “The Man in the High Castle,” the more frequent appearance of duds like Newt Gingrich and William Forstchen’s much-maligned 1995 novel, “1945,” has reinforced alternate history’s reputation as the domain of armchair historians and literary hacks.
On November 9, Jews throughout Germany will mark the 68th anniversary of the notorious Nazi pogrom, Kristallnacht, with solemn commemorative ceremonies and with vows of “Never again.” Yet in Munich, the very city where the pogrom was first unleashed, a more hopeful tone will pervade the commemorative events: That same day, Munich will dedicate a major new synagogue that symbolizes the city’s ongoing effort to realize the elusive goal of “normalcy” in its relationship with the Jewish community.
Mention “Munich” today, and people automatically think of Steven Spielberg’s controversial Oscar-nominated film. But if the city currently evokes disturbing images of international terrorism, it will soon also remind people of the sordid history of National Socialism.Change is afoot in Munich. In the heart of the city, behind a cheap