Cologne’s mayor and a German Jewish leader spoke privately about plans for the city’s Jewish museum.
Mayor Fritz Schramma, who has expressed reservations about the size of the winning design and proposed a public referendum on the plan, spoke by telephone Friday with Salomon Korn, the vice president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
A news release from the Central Council described the talks as “to the point and constructive.” Korn, an architect on the jury that selected the winning design, said the mayor agreed to meet with him to resolve unanswered questions.
The $32 million House and Museum of Jewish Culture, which is being paid for by a private foundation, is to be located in front of the City Hall on a lot whose Jewish community buildings were destroyed by Allied bombings in World War II. Jewish leaders reportedly have suggested that Schamma is kowtowing to pressure from a local museum, among others. Cologne was home to one of the oldest Jewish communities in northern Europe, and some remnants of medieval Jewish structures remain. Pope Benedict XVI visited the city’s active synagogue in 2005 as his first formal gesture of outreach to Jews. Meanwhile, The Jewish Museum of Franken, in the city of Furth — once home to Henry Kissinger — is planning to start construction on its extension in 2010. The winner of the architectural competition is to be announced by July 25, and the top designs will be presented to the public on July 28. Several new Jewish museum buildings have opened in Germany in recent years.