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NORTHERN GERMANY


Story by Brian Anderson Photos by Alison Smith


O


utside a historic park in Berlin sits a small statue of 13 fatigued women, a memorial to the Jewish victims of fascism. T e Alter Judischer Friedoff


park used to be a destroyed Jewish cemetery, and it’s now one of the many monuments that can be seen along a brief walking tour of Jewish culture. T e defi ning center for the Jewish community in Germany’s


capital, the Neue Synagogue, is only blocks away from the park. Although destroyed by the Nazis, it is now being rebuilt. Many of the Jewish monuments are often covered with


flowers from visitors, sometimes with small, personal notes or universal sentiments. One statue bears a single white rose that reads the single word “entschuldigung,” meaning apology. T e history of Jewish culture in Berlin is a complicated one.


Prior to World War II, more than 150,000 Jews called Berlin their home. When the Nazis set up headquarters, destroying synagogues and cemeteries, that number dwindled drastically. It is estimated that only 1,000 Jews survived the war. Today, the Jewish population in Berlin is one of the largest


and fastest growing in all of Europe, and the important history of Judaism is not forgotten by the city. Of the many attractions dedicated to Jewish culture, one of the most comprehensive is the Jewish Museum. Accessible only through an underground tunnel, the


museum opened to the public in 2001. T e tunnel is connected to a courthouse that was built in the 18th century. Architect Daniel Libeskind designed the highly symbolic building to look like a separate entity from the outside, explaining in the museum’s audio guide, “History does not have a visible bridge.” Covering 2,000 years of Jewish history, the museum


exhibits the Jewish community’s past and present in Berlin and throughout Europe. It has been said the museum is one of the best ways for tourists to learn about the Jewish community in Berlin. A newly constructed memorial, T e Murdered Jews of


Europe, has raised controversy because of its design and what is leſt unsaid on the memorial. Built in 2004, the memorial is a massive, haunting tribute to the memory of the nearly six million Jews that lost their lives during the Holocaust. T e memorial, located just a block away from Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gate, consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of diff erent sizes arranged in a grid pattern on slowly sloping ground. Free of almost any type of markings or engravings, the site


has proved perplexing for some visitors. Ben Schraff er works at the museum’s visitor center and said this design was chosen for a reason.


Top: In a park in Berlin a small statue of 13 fatigued women represents the Jewish victims of fascisim.


Above: Many visitors leave fl owers on the Jewish monuments. The word on the card, “entschuldigung,” means apology.


“T e architect, Peter Eisenman, said the site was free of


any symbolism,” he said. “What would possibly symbolize the Holocaust? Nothing. Instead we off er a space, and what people do, what their impressions are, is their decision.” T e memorial attracted a lot of attention during the


construction phase. Schraff er said part of the controversy was the cost of 30 million euro, while others argued the meaning of the structure. Perhaps most famously, German Jewish leader


ALPINE LIVING 2011 | 19


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