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Statue to Lessing is Erected on Jewish Square in Vienna

July 5, 1935
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A statue to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, famous German poet, dramatist and critic of 150 years ago, whose essays and plays stimulated the emancipation of the German Jews, has been erected in the Judenplatz (Jewish Square) here.

Jews were once burned alive in the square where the statue now stands. A tablet still remains with the inscription, “Jewish dogs were burned here.”

In spite of this, when Vice Mayor Lahr announced that the name of the square had been changed to “Lessingplatz,” there were some objections in Jewish circles.

The idea for the statue was conceived twenty years ago by a committee headed by the then Premier Ernst von Koerber and Josef Unger.

The unveiling was witnessed by leaders of Vienna intellectual circles and admirers of Lessing, including Chief Rabbi David Feutchwang, Federal Councillor Frankfurter, Prof. Gluecksmann of the German People’s Theatre and Dr. Fischer, historian.

The dedication address was made by former Minister Oswald Redlich, president of the Academy of Science. The government was represented by Vice Mayor Lahr.

Herr Lahr pointed out that Lessing had described Vienna as a city where one is allowed to write and speak in freedom, adding: “Let us hope that Vienna will soon be such a city again.”

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