We began our tour with a walking tour of the Scheunenviertel Neighborhood in Berlin. Below are some of the highlights:
We saw the the Fernsehturm which is a television tower in central Berlin, Germany. Close to Alexanderplatz in Berlin-Mitte, the tower was constructed between 1965 and 1969 by the government of the German Democratic Republic. Walked by the “Missing House.” The Missing House is just an empty space between two buildings, yet we can sense that another building should be standing there. In actual fact it was destroyed by the bombings in February 1945. In 1990 the French artist Christian Boltanski came up with the idea of placing plaques bearing the names of the inhabitants of the missing house on the walls of the existing buildings. Boltanski belongs to the Artists in Action movement which creates conceptual art from simple, everyday objects. In this instance the combination of the names and the empty space serves to remind us of the horrors of war. Walked and examined many of the “stumbling stones” on the sidewalk and visited the Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Jewish Cemetery. To learn more about the “Missing House Memorial” you can view the following YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIZYD1UAQt8
The Grosse Hamburger Strasse Jewish Cemetery in Berlin. This is where the grave of Moses Mendelssohn is located.
The Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue, re-established in 1998, consists of a small sanctuary on the third floor of the original building’s former front hall. An egalitarian congregation meets here, under the auspices of the Jewish Community of Berlin.
Humboldt University- intellectual home of Einstein, Marx, W.E.B. Du Bois, among many others. It was from the university’s library that some 20,000 books by “degenerates” and opponents of the Nazi regime were taken to be burned on May 10 of 1933 in the Opernplatz (now the Bebelplatz) for a demonstration protected by the SA that also featured a speech by Joseph Goebbels. A monument to this can now be found in the center of the square, consisting of a glass panel opening onto an underground white room with empty shelf space for 20,000 volumes and a plaque, bearing an epigraph from an 1820 work by Heinrich Heine: “This was but a prelude; where they burn books, they ultimately burn people.”
Images of the Brandenburg Gate, the American Embassy, and the Reichstag Building.
“Throughout its existence, the Brandenburg Gate was often a site for major historical events and is today considered not only as a symbol of the tumultuous history of Europe and Germany, but also of European unity and peace.”
T4 – Memorial and Information Centre for the Victims of the Nazi Euthanasia Programme is located on the edge of Berlin’s Tiergarten. Planned in the open, the criminal acts of the National Socialists are in plain sight. First, you see a blue glass wall serving as a symbol of entrapment. Information boards convey the horrible details of the euthanasia programme. The information desk also shows videos and sound recordings from that time, which authentically convey the brutality of the crime.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin features an above ground landmark and an underground museum annex. One of the most moving aspects of the museum are exhibits of diaries and letters of persecuted Jews. Berliners struggle with the question of how the site should be treated. Many claim that it is not an appropriate place to “take fun selfies.” Should one picnic here? Should children play? Here is a great website from Frontline that addresses the memorial and these questions: http://www.pbs.org/…/shows/germans/memorial/visit.html