It's a dark and icy afternoon as we head through quiet streets towards Warsaw's Nożyk Synagogue. It's an unassuming location, tucked away behind the buildings that face onto Ulica Twarda and Plac Grzybowski.
The synagogue was designed by Leandro Marconi, who was also responsible for the design of Warsaw's Great Synagogue.
At the time that German forces arrived in Warsaw in October 1939, roughly 30% of Warsaw's population was Jewish - 359,827 people according to a census conducted by the Nazi-established 'Judenrat' (Jewish council), making Warsaw second only to New York City in the size of its Jewish population. Serving them were some 400 houses of prayer, from those in workplaces and residential buildings to the large synagogues like the Great Synagogue on Ulica Tłomackie, the round Praga Synagogue which stood on what's now Ulica Jagiellońska and the Nożyk Synagogue.
Warsaw's synagogues were forcibly closed in 1940 and the Jewish population forbidden even from meeting for prayer in private residences. The Nożyk Synagogue was turned into a stables and animal feed store, serving to further underline the Nazis' contempt for anything Jewish. Beyond this, the synagogue escaped the degree of deliberate destruction which met, for example, the Great Synagogue (which was blown up by the Nazis on May 16th 1943, after the Warsaw Ghetto uprising). It did, however, sustain damage during the fighting of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
It's estimated that, after World War II, less than 20,000 Jewish people remained in Warsaw. Many later left for Israel and elsewhere.
The Nożyk Synagogue is now the only pre-World War II synagogue still active; a small number of other, inactive, former synagogues remain.