Jewish city story of Berlin

The Jewish history of Germany predates the establishment of Berlin as it is known today by more than 1000 years. The community has seen success, innovation, and acceptance. It has also been subjected to the horrors of antisemitism culminating in one of the worst travesties against humanity the world as ever seen, the Holocaust. No one would ever have thought that after such trauma the Jewish community of Germany would continue, let alone rise to the heights it has today.

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House of The Wannsee Conference

The House of Wannsee Conference is located on the Wannsee River, on the outskirts of West Berlin. This historical landmark was built in 1915 for Ernst Marlier, a prominent businessman. He was arrested in 1940 for embezzlement and sold his property. During the Nazi era, the Wannsee House came to be used by the SS Security Service, the Nazi intelligence service. It was at the villa that SS officers planned the future of the Third Reich. After the war, the house was used as a residence, until the August Bebel Institute acquired the building in 1947. It was then used as a school and hostel for the Berlin Social Democratic Party, until 1988 when it became the memorial site it is today. The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior government officials of Nazi Germany and Schutzstaffel (SS) leaders, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference, called by the director of the Reich Security Main Office SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, was to ensure the co-operation of administrative leaders of various government departments in the implementation of the Final Solution to the Jewish question, whereby most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe would be deported to occupied Poland and murdered. Conference participants included representatives from several government ministries, including state secretaries from the Foreign Office, the justice, interior, and state ministries, and representatives from the SS. In the course of the meeting, Heydrich outlined how European Jews would be rounded up and sent to extermination camps in the General Government (the occupied part of Poland), where they would be killed. Auschwitz survivor, Joseph Wulf, is really to thank for the inauguration of the Wannsee House as a memorial site. Mr. Wulf published the first comprehensive collection of documents from the Nazi regime, and suggested creating a documenter center in the Marlier villa. Although Wulf had wide public support, the Berlin Senate was slow to accept his proposal. Sadly, Joseph Wulf did not see his vision realized, as the man committed suicide in 1974.

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Tours of Berlin


Berlin Bike Tour

Are you tired of booking an exciting tour, getting up early but then finding out you’re in a group of 50 tourists and you can’t hear or see what’s going on? It happens a lot, especially in major cities like Berlin. All too often is your money wasted on big tours where you have to wrestle past the other group members just to ask the guide a simple question. That’s where the Berlin Bike Tour comes in. For all of their public tours, they guarantee your group will be no larger than eight people, who are all like-minded individuals looking to have a cultural, insider experience of Berlin on two wheels.  If you’re a Berliner but have family coming to town, what better way to keep visitors entertained than show them the city’s astounding history? Their experts also cater to corporate events, school tours, and family vacations - whatever you’re up to in the city, they’ve got you covered. The best thing about the Berlin Bike Tour is that it can be fun for all of the family. Berlin is a very bike-friendly city, suitable for kids and older adults. It is a safe, fun, and educational way to spend a day in one of the world’s best cities. The tours run twice daily from April to October, with a morning and early afternoon tour to suit all sightseeing schedules. In the winter months, the tours run once a day in the morning to make the most of the beautiful German winter. The Berlin Bike Tour historians can guide you through all of Berlin’s historical landmarks, including: The Berlin Wall Bike Tour: this tour traces the infamous Cold War through important historical monuments such as the Tranenpalast and Checkpoint Charlie, amongst others. The Berlin Mitte Bike Tour: this tour will take you and your group through the most important centres of Berlin’s history, including monuments like the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate. With the Berlin Bike Tour guides, you can cover some 800 years of history in one afternoon. The Berlin Potpourri Tour: this tour takes you through some of the lesser-spotted areas and monuments of Berlin’s impressive history. This is great for those who really want to get an insider’s look at the German capital.   On a sunny day in Berlin, there’s nothing better to do than put on your helmet and your sunglasses and set off on your bike. So many tourists sit in buses during the summer weather, not able to fully engage with the history they’re seeing. That’s why the Berlin Bike Tour offers a real, interactive tour of all of Berlin’s history, with professionals who know the city inside out.  


Alternative Berlin Tours

Come explore the wonders of Berlin from a new perspective. From free tours to food tours, from art tours to night tours, Alternative Berlin Tours offer a bit of everything. These walking tours are educational, informational and lots and lots of fun. Check out world-famous graffiti and the secret sights of this historical city or discover the cultural epicenter of punk and electronic music or where the reggae and rock history is hiding. Alternative Berlin Tours offers a handful of great tours: Alternative Berlin Tour - the original free tour that allows you to see Berlin as a local does. Visit everything from skateparks to multicultural neighborhoods and iconic landmarks. Alternative Nightlife Tour - visit some of Berlin’s top nightclubs and bars. Known for its amazing nightlife, from the Absinthe bar to historically significant clubs, this is a tour not to be missed. Street Art Workshop - see some of the world’s most famous graffiti and even make some art of your own. See the sights of Berlin through an artist’s eyes with this unique tour. Street Art Tour - for those who want to explore the city’s street art but without the hands-on experience. Discover incredible art that you never knew existed right here. Real Berlin Experience - discover how Berlin balances trends and traditions. This cultural tour takes you through the backstreets of the city to explore underground galleries and hidden markets. Craft Beer and German Beer Tour - start in the brewing district and get to the root of this delicious beverage. Learn about German beer, it’s history and how it tastes - that’s right, samples included) Green City Tour - this unique tour takes you from organic supermarkets to local bee farms as you visit the green businesses and sites of the city. All tours are walking tours and open to the public, though some have age restrictions. For a more personalized experience, you can book a private tour for individuals, groups or even students. Berlin’s rich history is multi-faceted and exploring it from different perspectives and with a local guide is a great way to get a deeper understanding of this city’s past. Alternative Berlin Tours take place almost every day of the year and have been recommended by guidebooks, travel magazines, and world-renowned publications since their inception in 2006. While other tours might take you to visit the wall and the site of Hitler’s bunkers and Charlie’s Checkpoint, these tours will show you the things you didn’t read about in a guidebook. Explore the fascinating alternative Berlin with one of these eye-opening, educational tours.  

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Jeremy Minsberg

Jeremy Minsberg - The Berlin Expert If you’re looking for a private tour in English, Jeremy Minsberg, aka Mr. Berlin, might just be your guy. Jeremy is an American Jew who has been enjoying the exciting Berlin life for over 17 years. TripAdvisor has given him the Certificate of Excellence 2017 and he’s received a score of 99% from hundreds of happy tourists. So what makes Mr. Berlin’s tours so great? If you want to hear more about Jewish history or learn about architecture, he’ll make sure your topics of choice are covered. Jeremy’s tours are all in English but he does things like the locals do - you’ll explore the city using public transportation from the Underground and the S-Bahn to biking and walking, you’ll see Berlin from many angles and perspectives. Jeremy does his tours out of passion and his love of Berlin and all its amazing history, so he doesn’t offer set fees and instead encourages his guests to name their price. Tours usually last between half a day and a full day, depending on weather, interest, time, and sights on the agenda. Some of Jeremy’s amazing tour options include: Berlin Overview Tour: see all the top sites in one grand afternoon Jewish Berlin Tour: explore the ups-and-downs of Jewish life in this city Cold War Berlin Tour: learn how a city rebuilds itself after division Destruction and Construction Tour: the must-take tour for architecture fanatics Times of Terror Tour: visit the sites of the darkest period of Berlin, the Nazi era Gay Berlin Tour: enjoy the tolerant, open-minded history of Berlin Bike Tour of Berlin: explore the city on two wheels and from a whole new perspective Minsberg also offers a few tours that head out of Berlin proper. His Potsdam tour takes you to the neighboring state of Brandenburg, known for hosting the Prussian kings and Germain Kaiser. He also offers a tour of Sachsenhausen, a concentration camp about 45 minutes north of Berlin. If you don’t want to walk, there’s also an option to rent a limousine or private car for the tour - driver included. Lastly, Jeremy offers a Daytime Companion option where you can simply ‘hang out’ for the day exploring the city from Jeremy’s perspective. One of the nicest features of Jeremy’s tours is that he donates a portion of his fees to a local charity. Minsberg supports cultural organizations, a Berlin Jewish educational center, and a Berlin school that helps HIV positive children integrate into mainstream society. So by going on a tour with The Berlin Expert, you are not only experiencing a unique and exciting side of Berlin, but contributing to the local community.


Nirit Ben-Joseph

Nirit Ben Joseph started working as a tour guide in Berlin in 1989. She offers comfortable, luxurious, air-conditioned van tours for up to six guests and uses a microphone and loudspeaker so she’s easy to hear. Nirit offers tours on subjects that can be very specific and detailed or more general. While most of her tours last six hours, different subjects can be combined to create multiple-day tours if requested. Nirit creates a personal experience for her clients. She’ll pick you up at your hotel and finish the tour in your location of choice. Her tours are friendly for children and youth, so no need to reserve separate activities for younger family members. On top of that, Nirit will help you with hotel and restaurant reservations and even recommend cultural events for your visit. One of the nicest things that Nirit helps with is searching for family connections. For visitors coming to Berlin who have a family history, Nirit will help search archives and cemetery data to find the story of your ancestors. Join one of Nirit Ben Joseph’s educational and exciting tours of Berlin and you’ll be exploring this fascinating city in comfort and style. Some of her tours include: The Best of Berlin: a six-hour tour exploring the highlights of the city, the best option for visitors who have a limited amount of time The Jewish Tour: learn about all the trials and tribulations that fill the rich history of Jews in Berlin and how the community has recuperated since then The Architecture Tour: explore the wonders of modern architecture and see how the urban part of the city has grown over the years The Cold War and the Berlin Wall: delve into the dark recent history of Berlin and the building and destruction of the Wall as you explore it yourselves Wannsee and Potsdam Tour: visit the prime location of the Potsdam Conference, the palace of Sanssouci and the palace of Cecilien Hof, in Berlin’s neighboring Brandenburg The Art Tour: see the best of Berlin’s art scene by exploring some of the most famous and unseen galleries the city has to offer For guests who are exploring other parts of Germany, Nirit also offers tours in Dresden and Leipzig. The tour of Sachsenhausen concentration camp is highly recommended and it’s just a 45-minute trip out of central Berlin. While Nirit started studying in Tel Aviv University in 1987, her move to to Berlin in 1987 captivated her enough to stay in the city. Now, Nirit shares the parts that made her fall in love with Berlin with her tour guests.


Eyal Dov Roth

Born and raised in Israel, Eyal Roth moved to Berlin in 2010 and has been a tour guide for more than 6 years. Enchanted by the dark history of the European Jews and his own heritage as the grandson of four Holocaust survivors, Eyal became an expert in all things Jewish in Berlin. Given the sensitivity of the tours subject matter, Eyal encourages asking questions and engaging in conversation while also giving tour participants time to process things in silence. Join Eyal on a four or five-hour tour walking, biking or driving around the city while uncovering the history of the Jews of Berlin. Eyal will meet you at your hotel and take you through the old Jewish quarter, the Jewish cemetery of Berlin, and the secret, underground life of Jews during the Nazi regime. The tour will also include the Otto Weidt museum, the AHAVA orphanage, the New Synagogue Berlin, and many other historical Jewish sights. The tour continues on to cover the Jewish persecution in the early 1900's and the infamous Platform 17 where the Jews of Berlin were sent to the concentration camps. Eyal is open to adding and removing sites from the tour depending on the needs and wants of his clients, so you can get a more tailored experience if you’d like. He can also include a coffee or lunch break and is accommodating to youth and people with disabilities. This private tour is a great way to experience a personal connection to the rich history of the Jews of Berlin. While Eyal may focus on the Jewish history of the city, he does offer a variety of other tours: The Introductory Tour of Berlin - cover all the basics by putting 700 years of history into just a few hours A Tour Following the Berlin Wall - find the method to the madness on this trip along the infamous Wall The Alternative Berlin Tour - head off the beaten path on this art-focused tour The Night Tour - experience the famous clubs, bars, pubs and galleries of this raging city Bike Tours - see more in a shorter span of time, great for those on a time limit Eyal Dov Roth’s tours are one of Tripadvisor’s top 5 recommended outdoor activities and in 2016 he received their Certificate of Excellence. For those truly wanting to delve into the incredibly complicated history of Berlin’s Jews, a tour with Eyal is a must.

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Iris Hami February 13, 2023

Discover The Timeless Treasures of Europe's Most Iconic Cities

Discover The Timeless Treasures of Europe's Most Iconic Cities  And Explore the Ancient Jewish Heritage that Still Endures A trip to Europe can be a wonderful adventure. It’s an opportunity to explore history, architecture, cuisine and over a thousand years of rich cultural heritage. For Jews, a trip to European destinations like Berlin, Warsaw, Prague and Budapest is a bittersweet experience. Amid all the beauty and cultural treasures are names and places that evoke evil events, and in many cases, tragic family memories.  Jewish history (at least for most US Jews) is entwined with European history. Two thousand years of European cultures shaped our own modern existence. The Jewish experience aside, anybody who wants to understand modern America should visit Europe. It’s fascinating to see all the diverse influences and traditions that crossed the Atlantic and contributed to the vast American melting pot. The most popular Jewish tours in Europe offer a window into the past and allow us to experience the very best of Europe at first hand. If your ancestors came from Europe, or you just love history and culture, Jewish heritage tours in Europe can provide the trip of a lifetime. They are also a unique educational opportunity for teens and young adults. A family vacation in Europe allows kids to connect with their Jewish heritage and gain a valuable perspective on their own family origins. Atmospheric walking tours through the old Jewish districts of European cities beat documentaries and interactive tours hands down. The feeling of walking through a Berlin or Warsaw neighborhood where your grandparents or great grandparents - or even your earlier ancestors - lived and worked is unbelievable! Jewish Heritage Tours in Central Europe and Eastern Europe Western Europe, with cities like Paris, London, Barcelona and Bruges, contains some of the world’s greatest cultural sites, but we’ll be focusing on Jewish heritage tours in central Europe and Jewish heritage tours in eastern Europe. There are five major cities that attract Jewish tourists. They are packed with interesting sites and are also convenient bases for further exploration and day trips to other cities and locations.  Five Most Popular Jewish Tours in Europe Berlin Budapest Warsaw Vienna Prague Visit Berlin   Berlin is arguably Europe’s most complex capital city. It was a center of enlightenment under Frederick the Great, the capital of the hubristic German Empire, the home of the German Expressionist Movement and it epitomized the frenetic culture of the Roaring Twenties and the Weimar period.    Berlin was also the sinister capital of the Third Reich and the city where the Holocaust was conceived. Devastated by aerial bombing and street fighting, the ruined metropolis became an occupied and divided city. The Berlin Wall and Checkpoint Charlie are still iconic symbols of the Cold War.  21st century Berlin is one of the most popular Jewish tours in Europe and a major destination for all tourists. The city is once again a center of culture and is thriving, vibrant, cosmopolitan and welcoming. It also has a great public transport system which makes it easy to get around and see the sites.   Recommended Tourist Sites in Berlin Museum Island Hackescher Markt & the New Synagogue Stasi Museum  Visit Budapest The center of Budapest is the jewel of the Danube and is classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Budapest is a must-see destination on any Jewish heritage tour of central Europe. Hungary was home to a Jewish community for over a thousand years and by the 20th century Budapest was over 20% Jewish.  As in many European countries, Jewish existence in Hungary was frequently precarious. Periods of relative tolerance and progress eventually culminated in disaster. Over half of Hungary’s Jews were murdered in the Holocaust - with the enthusiastic assistance of Hungary's fascist leaders. Recommended walking tours  of Budapest include a visit to the haunting Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial.  Despite the horror and sadness of the previous century, modern Budapest is a fun city to explore. Hungarian cuisine is an appetizing blend of European, Balkan and Asiatic influences and prices are affordable. Budapest is full of museums and galleries, and the summer is famous for outdoor festivals and concerts.  Recommended Tourist Sites in Budapest Kazinczy Street Synagogue Buda Castle Hungarian National Gallery Visit Warsaw Warsaw is the jumping off point for most Jewish heritage tours in Eastern Europe. Poland was home to Europe’s largest and most influential Ahskenazi community and Polish Jewry thrived for generations during a period of tolerance. The Nazis unleashed the full horrors of the Holocaust in Poland and only 10% of Polish Jews survived.  Jewish heritage tours in Europe that visit Poland will often include a visit to Auschwitz. Walking tours of Auschwitz are a uniquely somber event and can be an emotionally challenging day, particularly for people who lost family members. It’s also a vital educational trip for Jewish teens. There are many wonderful and beautiful sites in Poland that are a delight to visit, but a heritage tour that doesn’t also confront the nadir of Jewish history is of questionable value.  Warsaw was extensively rebuilt after the destruction of World War Two, but still contains many magnificent examples of historical architecture. The Warsaw Old Town area was painstakingly reconstructed, often using original bricks salvaged from the rubble. The Royal Lazienki Park and the Old Town market Square are lovely places to wander and take in the historical atmosphere.  Recommended Tourist Sites in Warsaw Museum of the History of Polish Jews Nożyk Synagogue  Mury Getta (Remains of the Warsaw Ghetto wall) Visit Vienna One of the most popular destinations for Jewish heritage tours in central Europe is the ancient city of Vienna. Like its fellow Danube city Budapest, the center of Vienna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vienna has a well deserved reputation as a city of music, high culture and baroque architecture, and was home to a major Jewish community. The most famous Viennese Jew was probably Sigmund Freud.  Prior to the Holocaust, Vienna had one of the most prominent and influential Jewish communities in the world. By 1945, barely Jews 4,000 remained in the city, many of whom chose to emigrate. Since the 1990s there has been a minor Jewish cultural resurgence in Vienna, fuelled by Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe.  Walking tours in Vienna are an unforgettable experience. Vienna was the capital of the Habsburgs and the Austrian Empire and some of the architecture retains its imperial splendor. A walking tour of the old Jewish textile quarter is even more atmospheric, especially if you are descended from one of the 30,000 Viennese Jews who emigrated to the US.   Recommended Tourist Sites in Vienna Stadttempel Synagogue Judenplatz Museum Spanish Riding School Visit Prague Prague is another beautiful historic city that became a major tourist destination after the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s also high on the list of Jewish heritage tours in Central Europe. Prague’s Jewish community has a thousand year history and its Jewish quarter was a center of professional endeavor, learning and Jewish mysticism.  The Jewish population of Prague was as resilient as any in Europe. The minority who survived the Holocaust also endured the hostility of the post-war communist government, and today numbers around 2,000 people. One of the best-known Prague Jews was the writer Franz Kafka. The city is also famous for the story of Rabbi Loew and the golem.    One of the key Jewish sites in Prague is the Josefov. Its narrow winding streets were demolished over a century ago during civic improvements, but there are still a few tantalizing hints of the old Jewish quarter. The Josefov is home to at least half a dozen synagogues and other sites. It’s situated at the heart of Prague’s stunning medieval Old Town and is easy to visit.  Recommended Tourist Sites in Prague Franz Kafka’s birthplace Prague Castle Charles Bridge Travel to Europe in 2023 A properly planned Jewish heritage tour in Europe is the trip of a lifetime. It can also be a profound educational experience for kids and young adults. There’s so much to do and to see in any European city that the challenge is to create a balanced itinerary.  Nothing beats local knowledge when it comes to arranging a trip, especially if you want to see beyond the basic tourist attractions and gain some deeper insights into European cities as our ancestors experienced them on a day to day basis. If you do want to explore Europe’s most beautiful cities from a Jewish perspective, talk to the Jewish travel experts.       

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Jack Dev May 6, 2023

Berlin, Germany: A City of Jewish Culture, History, and Resilience

The Jewish history of Germany predates the establishment of Berlin as it is known today by more than 1000 years. The community has seen success, innovation, and acceptance. It has also been subjected to the horrors of antisemitism culminating in one of the worst travesties against humanity the world as ever seen, the Holocaust. No one would ever have thought that after such trauma the Jewish community of Germany would continue, let alone rise to the heights it has today. From a Cattle Market to a Quarter and Then Near Oblivion From the time the Holy Roman empire stood Jews have lived on German soil. For hundreds of years they existed as a minority in mainly rural areas. The city of Berlin was established in the medieval period in 1237. In keeping with the tradition of European cities a small minority of Jews were granted permission to establish their own insular district. They were meant to increase the wealth and trade connections of Germany.  This district was located just outside the city walls. By 1900 the majority of German Jews lived in metropolitan cities like Berlin. Jews served as bankers, lawyers, and merchants. They were also at the forefront of major philosophical movements, both religious and secular, like the Enlightenment period and the Haskalah movement. All this success in German society came to a crashing halt with the progression of the Holocaust. Antisemitism had always existed in spades within German society but the Third Reich fanned these flames of hatred. Despite the obvious merit and contributions of the Jewish community, the general population believed them to be untrustworthy. The seed of all devastation in the nation.  In 1933, Jews were demoted to second class citizens. Their businesses were vandalized, they were not permitted to enter certain spaces, forced to wear the yellow star, and finally placed in ghettos. Then came the final hammer fall of the Final Solution. Between 1941 and 1945 Jews were shipped to work and extermination camps. By the time the allied forces liberated camps across Europe only 15,000 German Jews remained.  Most immigrated to other countries, however, some chose to stay to try and rebuild what had been lost. The latter was a widely unpopular decision. Most Jews believed that morally and emotionally they could never again call Germany home. After years of painstaking work to confront the evils of the past and rebuild, today there are more than 30,000 Jews living in the city of Berlin alone. The German Jewish Community Remembers and Thrives There is a steadfast commitment to the preservation and renaissance of Jewish history in Berlin, with special concentration on the original Jewish quarter. The city did not establish a Jewish quarter within its limits until the mid to late 19th century. The quarter was named Scheunenviertel, taken from the German word Scheune, wooden barns. This was in reference to the hay barns that were located in the Jewish district outside of the city where there once stood a cattle market. The area was the epicenter of Jewish daily life as well as cultural and religious activities.  One of the most iconic sites in the history of the Jewish German community is the New Synagogue of Berlin. This mid-19th century architectural jewel resembling the Alhambra was designed to fit almost 3000 attendees complete with an organ and choir. It was severely damaged during Kristallnacht and set ablaze. The site was saved by Lieutenant Otto Bellgardt. In a brave effort to uphold the protection of the synagogue as a historic site he ordered the arsonists to disperse. Today the synagogue stands as a testament to the resilience of German Jewry and the actions of one righteous man. There are also many sites dedicated to the memory of Holocaust victims. One of the most iconic is of course the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial was designed by Peter Eisenman in 1980 featuring 2,711 concrete slabs spaced in a grid formation. There are no names on the slabs, a symbol of the countless victims, some of whom remain unknown to this day. The Contribution of Berlin Jewry However, Jewish German history is not all doom and gloom. For hundreds of years German Jews thrived in Berlin, some of whom made large contributions to the international Jewish world. Moses Mendelsohn, born at the beginning of the 18th century, moved to Berlin in 1743. He started his own businesses, studied under renowned German philosophers and academics, culminating in his founding of the Haskalah movement. This movement proved that Jewish law and culture could be intertwined with the secular life of German culture and enlightenment thinking.              Of course one cannot talk about the heights of German and Berlin Jewry without mentioning the legendary Albert Einstein. The father of the theory of relativity, winner of the 1921 Nobel Prize, founding member of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and all around iconic personality. He is without a doubt one of the most famous Jewish names in the world. He lived, studied, and conducted his research in Berlin academies during the early 20th century. In 1933, on a visiting professorship in New Jersey, he learned that Hitler had taken absolute power. He then decided to never return to his homeland and died in New Jersey in 1955.    The Continued Story of Jewry in Berlin  Jewish Berlin has been revitalized in every sense of the word now drawing in Jewish communities from across the globe. In addition to the rising population of German Jews in Berlin, thousands of Israelis have flocked to the city for career and educational opportunities. It's a story that borders on the unreal, yet manifested all the same, a living dream that you need to experience for yourself.     

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Context Travel May 8, 2023

Holocaust Memorials in Berlin, Budapest, and Amsterdam

There are hundreds of Holocaust memorials around the world, including many in cities where we run walking tours. We sat down with scholars in Berlin, Budapest, and Amsterdam to learn more about some of the most significant Holocaust memorials around the world, and to get their insight into some of the trickier aspects of interpretation and memorialization. Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe; photo by Alphamouse via Wikipedia Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin Once you’ve interacted with Berlin’s “Holocaust memorial”, as it’s commonly known, you won’t forget it. Conceived by American architect Peter Eisenman, the site is a Field of Stelae, a sprawling network of 2711 upright stone slabs–all grey, and of varying sizes and angles, in the heart of Berlin’s tourist district a few steps from the Brandenburg Gate. “The effect when walking through the monument, which descends into a valley in which the stelae are at their tallest, is quite staggering,” says Context docent Finn Ballard, one of the scholars who leads our Jewish Berlin tour. “The memorial engages on a visceral level, inciting feelings of bewilderment, entrapment, isolation, dizziness, claustrophobia.” Walking between the pillars and descending the overall depth of the monument, as visitors are encouraged to, it’s difficult not to feel awed and slightly uncomfortable. Though many have drawn comparisons with a cemetery, Eisenman’s intention was to keep the design purposefully abstract. The number of stelae is arbitrary, and the architect wanted to convey an ordered system that “has lost touch with human reason”; a labyrinth of uncertainty. Construction of the memorial began in 2000, but its history stretches back decades into the 20th century. An idea was first floated in the 1980s by a small group of German citizens who saw a need to acknowledge the lives and deaths of the six million Jewish people who were murdered by the Germans during the Holocaust. The campaign gathered momentum and in 1994, the government announced a competition. After a failed round of submissions and judgements that ultimately dissatisfied then chancellor Helmut Kohl, Eisenman’s design was selected as the winner of a second contest. From the government’s perspective, the monument was built “to honor the murdered victims, keep alive the memory of…inconceivable events in German history and admonish all future generations never again to violate human rights, to defend the democratic constitutional state at all times, to secure equality before the law for all people and to resist all forms of dictatorship and regimes based on violence” (Bundestag Resolution 1999, via Humanity in Action). Officially, the monument is called the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, and it is considered one of the most significant and high profile Holocaust memorials around the world. Some have criticized the passive language, which identifies the victims but not the perpetrators. Others have countered that that’s exactly the point–the answer is so obvious as to not require further explanation. “Eisenman’s work has courted much controversy,” explains Finn, “with some critiques of the monument focusing on the behaviour of visitors, for whom the artist has built a photogenic structure which is used by some as a playground.” Yet anyone who has spent time exploring Berlin’s layers of history will understand how the country, through its pockmarked capital, is doing an impressive job of being present with the uneasy weight of its past. “Although it’s a contentious sculpture, I find it a resounding success as a memorial – but to experience its full effect, it’s really necessary to visit the underground Information Center as well,” concludes Finn. This small space beneath the monument  is continually commented on by our clients and docents alike to be one of the most moving and excellent exhibitions in the city. The memorial is visited during our “Story of Berlin” Sightseeing Tour of Berlin and Nazi Berlin Tour, as well as our Jewish Berlin tour, and can be included as part of a custom private tour of Berlin. Dohany Street Synagogue Holocaust Memorial and Shoes on the Danube Bank in Budapest Budapest, with its thriving contemporary Jewish culture, has several Holocaust memorials. One was set up by a community itself, in a closed space and through mostly Jewish funding. The other was set up by non-Jewish Budapest intellectuals, in a public space via independent funding. One is dedicated to all victims of the Holocaust, the other for victims of a specific type of persecution by a specific group of people. One does not mention perpetrators, the other one specifically mentions those to be blamed. “I think both are very moving and very symbolic memorials,” says Context docent and Jewish expert Szonja Komoroczy, one of several scholars who lead our Jewish Quarter of Budapest tour. “Both are successful and respectable in their own form and with their own goals, and they complement each other extraordinarily.” Dohany Street Synagogue Holocaust Memorial, Budapest The Holocaust Memorial in the garden of the Great Synagogue on Dohany Street memorializes the Holocaust for the Jewish community. “For me, the most interesting elements are the spontaneous original tombstones from the graveyard in the synagogue garden, now replaced by uniform tombstones,” explains Szonja. The original tombstones are on the wall at the back of the garden. Soon after the liberation of the ghetto and the burial of the corpses here, people started to light memorial candles for their lost ones, then put up plaques and tombstones – mostly for those who died in the ghetto, but eventually also for anyone else who did not have a memorial elsewhere. “The Jewish Archive and Museum has been working on identifying who actually is buried there – and now they have their uniform tombstones, the spontaneous ones were kept and moved to the back of the garden, the side of the synagogue,” she adds. The weeping willow part of the memorial is probably its most famous. “It’s beautifully designed,” says Szonja, “with the two stone tablets ‘emptied out’, the branches of the willow showing an upside down menorah, the leaves of the willow crying in the wind, and the moving talmudic statement about the person who saves one life saving the entire world.” Shoes on the Danube Bank, Budapest; photo by Nikodem Nijaki via Wikipedia Shoes on the Danube Bank is a memorial that honors the Jews who were killed by fascist political militia in Budapest during World War II and is one of the more conceptual Holocaust memorials around the world. Conceived by film director Can Togay and sculptor Gyula Pauer, the rows of empty shoes–iron yet detailed and lifelike–were installed in 2005. The memorial pays tribute to the lives lost under Hungary’s Arrow Cross party, which shared many ideologies with Germany’s Nazis, including a particularly violent anti semitism, and took to the streets to shoot Jews during 1944 and 1945. “The shoes are very touching in their simplicity: This was the scene that Budapest residents woke up to on various locations along the Danube embarkment after a night of violence.” says Szonja. “It shows the void, that something is missing, something is terribly wrong. It is a beautiful initiative and effort of non-Jews, civilians, and locals trying to commemorate, to face, to understand a shameful part of their history, of the common history of the city. To show guilt as well as emptiness.” Explore the Dohany Street Synagogue on our Jewish Quarter tour or Hungarian Jewish Food Tour. The Shoes on the Danube Bank can be visited during our Introduction to Budapest Walking Tour and custom tour of Budapest. National Holocaust Memorial in Amsterdam Amsterdam’s National Holocaust Memorial is part of the city’s Jewish Cultural Quarter, which today also comprises the Portuguese Synagogue and Jewish Historical Museum and is the last o the Holocaust memorials around the world that we’ll look at. Until 1940, what is now the Hollandsche Schouwburg was a popular theater, but in 1941 the Nazis, who were then occupying the city, changed its name to the Joodsche Schouwburg– Jewish Theatre. Initially, it became the only theater Jews were allowed to act in or attend, but over the years it took on an even more sinister role. Tulips on the wall of the Holocaust memorial, Amsterdam; photo by Juliane H. via Wikipedia “It was also used as the holding centre for the Jews of Amsterdam prior to them being sent to the Westerbork Camp (the transit camp for Dutch Jews. From Westerbork people were sent to the concentration camps of Central and Eastern Europe),” explains Context docent and expert Michael Karabinos. After the war ended, authorities initially wanted to revive the Hollandsche Schouwburg to its former use as a people’s theater, but the attempt was met by strong protest. In 1947, the Hollandsche Schouwburg Committee took possession of the building and in 1962 the city council installed a monument in remembrance of the Jewish victims of Nazi terror. Later, in 1993 a memorial room was added, which included a list of the 6700 family names 104,000 Dutch Jews murdered in the war. “It’s a room meant for reflection and recollection,” explains Michael. The space is meant for survivors and relatives of those who perished, who have no grave. Explore Amsterdam’s Jewish Cultural Quarter with Michael or another of our local experts during our Jewish Amsterdam tour. Original blog can be found here: https://blog.contexttravel.com/holocaust-memorials-around-the-world/

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Hotels in Berlin


Melia Berlin

This 4-star hotel in the heart of Berlin is located right along the River Spree for beautiful views of the city center. Melia Berlin is just a 10-minute walk from the historic Foundation New Synagogue Berlin and less than 20 minutes away from the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Among other Berlin sites in walking distance, guests can visit the Modern Art Museum, the famous Brandenburg Gate, Museums Island, Friedrichstadtpalast and Reichstag easily by foot or bicycle. For those interested in a bit of Berlin’s famous shopping, the Gendarmenmarkt and Hackescher Markt are also nearby. Melia Berlin's riverside location also offers access to several river tour operators, so you can explore Berlin from a totally different perspective - on water. The hotel is close to Friedrichstraße station which allows guests to easily connect with any other part of Berlin’s city center or suburbs. Around the hotel there are dozens of restaurants, bars and shops to explore, so whether you intend on staying close by or venturing further, this is essentially one of the best hotel locations in the city. As for the Melia itself, this beautiful hotel has room for up to 650 guests and offers accommodations suitable for both business and leisure trips. It’s well-equipped with great guest services like a 24/7 fitness room and sauna, underground car parking and two spacious dining areas - the Melia Lounge & Bar and Melia Tapas Bar. While Melias Lounge & Bar is beverages only, Melias Tapas Bar is a Spanish-themed restaurant with an open-air terrace available in the summer season. Hotel guests can also enjoy the breakfast buffet with panoramic views of the River Spree every day of the week. When it comes to the rooms, Melia Berlin wants their guests to stay in a high level of comfort. The rooms are spacious and furnished with flat-screen TVs, a minibar, a dining area for two, and a fully equipped bathroom. The rooms are modern and sleek, yet cozy and inviting. For those wishing to indulge, there are three different Suites to choose from aside from: the Melia Room, the Premium Room, and the Level Room. The Melia Berlin has received rave reviews online for its great customer service, professional staff, and beautiful location. Tripadvisor has also awarded the Melia with its coveted Certificate of Excellence. No matter what your trip to Berlin entails, the Melia Berlin is here to cater to your needs and help you enjoy a pleasant and memorable stay in this incredible city.


Hotel 103

Hotel 103 is a mid-sized hotel featuring 43 rooms centrally located on Schönhauser Allee in North Berlin. The hotel is walking distance from dozens of restaurants and bars including some famous institutions like the Kulturbrauerei brewery and Mauerpark. The Mauerpark is a beautiful park known for its diversely filled flea market and karaoke held in an outdoor amphitheater. The local neighborhood is known as Prenzlauer Berg and is a hip and young area filled with cafes, boutiques, and exclusive designer shops. There are many great places to people watch and take in the life of Berliners and visitors alike. If you want to explore a wider reach of the city, Hotel 103 is conveniently located near S-Bahn, U-bahn and Tram stations. The hotel is a quick bus or tram ride to the Natural History Museum, the Berlin Dungeon, Sea Life Berlin, the Berlin TV Tower, and many other tourist sites in Berlin.  As for the hotel itself, despite the basic rooms, it offers quite a few nice amenities. At Hotel 103, guests can rent bikes to explore the city or enjoy some downtime in the game room which is complete with a billiard table, dartboard, and Xbox 360. While there isn’t a full restaurant, there is an option to add a continental breakfast to your booking and there is a lovely outdoor terrace where guests can sit out and enjoy beverages from the hotel bar. Hotel 103 also offers packed lunches to make touring easier on guests. Guests staying at Hotel 103 can opt for a single, double, triple, or quadruple room, making it easy for individuals, families, or groups of friends to fit comfortably. The hotel spans five floors, all of which are handicap accessible, and it has the capacity to host conferences for up to 60 guests. The rooms are minimally furnished with beds, a shower, a TV, a small table and a chair, and are decorated simply. This 2-star hotel is budget-friendly and offers visitors of Berlin a clean and hospitable place to stay in a beautiful Berlin neighborhood. From restaurants and cafes to people watching in the park, Hotel 103 is a great option for backpackers on a budget and families alike.



Hotel Amano is a beautiful hotel in the heart of cultural Berlin on the North side of the Spree river. This three-star hotel was built in 2008 and opened it’s 163 rooms and fully-furnished apartments to the public with a flare of contemporary elegance. The interior of the hotel is sleek and minimalistic while the exterior is modern and bold- fitting in with the trendy neighborhood of Mitte where the hotel is located. Visitors can find Hotel Amano on the corner of Rosenthalar Straẞe and Augustraẞe. It has been said that Hotel Amano’s location is unbeatable. Located in Berlin-mitte (the center of the city), the hotel is walking distance to Alexanderplatz, Museum Island, and Hackescher Markt. There are several recommended dining locations around the hotel, all within a few minutes walk, and some of which are sister bars or restaurants to Amano. Check out MANI for delicious Israeli fusion or DEAN club for fantastic cocktails. The hotel is also surrounded by an array of galleries, boutiques, and bars, so there is exploring to do in every direction. Whether you are visiting for the scenery or the shopping, Hotel Amano is the perfect home base for soaking in all the entertainment Berlin has to offer. Hotel Amano’s friendly staff are knowledgeable and helpful when it comes to what to do, see, and eat. The hotel itself also offers some nice amenities. While rooms are rather basic, the apartments provide guests with a full kitchen, large living room, and unique wall art. As a guest at the hotel, you will have access to bicycle rentals and yoga mats, and have the option to join one of the hotel-affiliated walking tours. You can also enjoy signature, hand-crafted cocktails at the AMANO bar on the ground floor or drink your delicious beverages on the rooftop terrace while soaking in the views of the city.    Ask some of the Hotel Amano staff for their top recommendations on where to go or for one of the hotel’s mini maps marked with the best sites in the neighborhood. Hotel Amano is also just a 10-minute walk to the Foundation New Synagogue Berlin, an intricately decorated synagogue which has been operating since 1866. It was once the main synagogue of Berlin’s Jewish community and is well known for its extremely detailed Moorish style. There is no shortage of culture, history, and entertainment in Berlin-mitte. Hotel Amano calls itself 100% Berlin from bars, bike rentals, rooftop terraces, and cultural sites around every corner - a stay at Amano practically guarantees guests with the best experience of Berlin.

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Berlin 2019 #blackandwhitephotography #Berlin #germany #germanyparc 🇩🇪 #berlino #berlinofficial #berlincity #germania #architecturephotography #blackandwhitephotographylovers #architect #architecture #bestarchitecture #museum #picsbw #bestarchitects #contemporaryarchitecture #museum #monumental #monuments #jewishberlin #jewishmuseum #libeskind #lights #cittàdarte #capitalieuropee #picturesaroundtheworld ...

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Shtetl Berlin is proud to be part of the “Our Voices for Ukraine” solidarity concert at the Jewish Museum Berlin. Join us March 27th, 4 pm in celebrating the unique and diverse beauty of Jewish Ukrainian music in an effort to support those affected by Russia’s war of aggression. All proceeds will be donated.


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Adar. Spring. Joy. Blessings. with _goldenberg #art#artwork#artofinstagram#artoftheday#artistsoninstagram#artgram#arte#artsy#artist#artists#artworld#artistas#artofinstagram#streetart#streetartist#streetartberlin#jewishberlin#artstagram#art_we_inspire#artistlife#artiststyle#berlinmitte ...

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Did anyone say cake?
Cafe Strauss in Kreuzberg is one of my fav cafes...More tips to be found in my BertaBerlin map of #Kreuzberg.

shlomitlasky - here we met the first time - do you remember? Now we are close to the #finishline of our #JewishBerlin map. <3

Open tue-sun 10:00-17:00.
#walkthiswayberlin #BertaBerlin #BertaWalks #walkthisway #Berlin

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Ich plane aktuell mehrere Touren zum Thema "Jüdisches Berlin", die ich dann bei komoot in einer Kollektion zusammenfassen werde.

Dafür brauche ich eure Hilfe. Ich habe natürlich schon etliche Anlaufpunkte wie z.B. Friedhöfe, Museen oder Synagogen eingeplant, freue mich aber über jeden weiteren Tipp. Im Grunde gibt es da auch keinerlei Einschränkungen, da das Thema ja auch unglaublich vielschichtig ist. Ich würde mich freuen, wenn ihr mir noch weitere Anlaufstellen in den Kommentaren nennt. Das können Denkmäler jüdischer Persönlichkeiten sein, aber auch gerne kulturelle oder gastronomische Einrichtungen. Auch zu Hinweisen über (ehemalige) Wirkungsstätten von Jüdinnen und Juden wäre ich sehr dankbar. Im Grunde alles, das ihr mit jüdischem Leben (Vergangenheit und Gegenwart) in Berlin verbindet. Ich versuche dann die Tipps noch in die Routen einzubauen. Vielen Dank im Voraus 😌

#berlin #unterwegsinberlin #dasechteberlin #urbanarchitecture #outdoor #spaziergang #berlinzufuss #unterwegszufuss #berlinstreets #berlincity #visit_berlin #visitberlin #architecture #wanderlust #wandernmachtglücklich #draussen #wandern #jüdischesleben #jewishberlin #jewish

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#Berlin #holocaust #memorial #thememorialofthemurderedjewsofeurope #holocaustmemorial #berlin #mitte #jewish #jewishberlin #europeanholocaust #visitberlin #installation #memorialart #whattodoinberlin #loveberlin #travelphotography #traveleurope #travelberlin #urbanphotography #blackandwhite #blackandwhitephotography #film #filmphotography #filmportrait #light #naturallight #naturallightphotography #toguapito #guapamente ...

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