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18/08/2005
Say ja to Berlin by: Leslie Bunder and Caroline Westbrook
FILED UNDER DAILY JEWS >> Travel
Holocaust Memorial in Berlin
Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

It only seems like we covered Berlin a few weeks ago, well actually it was but since then we've been back and found more things that make the German capital a ja, ja for Jews to visit and immerse themselves in.
 
First off is the Memorial to those who died in the Holocaust which is officially known as Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Years in the planning and open since May, this outdoor maze-like piece of art designed by American architect Peter Eisenman, features 2,700 tomb-like stones of varying width and height.
 
The memorial is close to the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz, so makes it easy to find and be part of a tour of Berlin without the need to specifically try and find it. Somehow, it seems to actually find you.
 
When you first enter the memorial, you feel like a mouse in a maze going up and down and in and around. From the outside it doesn't look like anything special. But if you immerse yourself in it, then you can draw your own conclusions about the experience.  Is it about the struggle and the ups and downs of Jewish life, the never-ending triumph over oppressions or what? You decide the outcome of the experience.
 
There's been various comments on how good the memorial is and also how bad it is. We say, it's an experience to take part in.
 
As well as the maze-like piece of art, there's also an underground information centre and exhibition explaining what happened to the Jews. if you are Jewish and have already gone on tours, read book or heard stories, then waiting in line for at least 30 minutes to see the exhibition may not be the best use of your time in Berlin.

Address: Cora-Berliner-Str. 1
10117 Berlin
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 740 729 29
Web: www.stiftung-denkmal.de

Also, no visit to Jewish Berlin would be complete without a look at the Neue Synagogue. Located on Oranienburger Strasse, in what used to be the main Jewish area, the shul has an exhibition charting its history from being built through to its ultimate destruction and rebuilding.

You can also take the long staircase up to the top of the shul, which is its glass dome, offering great views of the city. Be warned though, it's a bit of a schlep. And don't expect to be able to buy any great souvenirs - there are a few postcards and a selection of books in the gift shop downstairs, and oddly enough some car mezuzahs. Why is it that most Jewish places fail to offer much in the way of souvenirs and something to remember them by?

Round the corner, in Grosse Hamburger Strasse is a Jewish school, as well as a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust and also the remains of the old Jewish cemetery, which was desecrated by the Nazis. All that is left now is a small garden and a tombstone to Moses Mendelssohn, the famous philosopher.

 
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