Jewish History in Berlin

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Berlin’s once-thriving Jewish community was largely destroyed during WWII, but many important remnants remain. From memorials and museums to reconstructed synagogues, the city is full of opportunities to learn and explore the turbulent history of Berlin’s Jewish residents. Here’s what to see. 

Otto Weidt Museum
This former broom and brush factory has been preserved almost as it was during WWII, when factory owner Otto Weidt used his business to employ blind and deaf Jews in order to prevent them from being deported to concentration camps. Today the site features exhibits such as photographs and letters from former workers. 

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe 
Set near Brandenburg Gate in the former location of the Berlin Wall, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe covers 4.7 acres (1.9 hectares) and contains 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. The site is thought to resemble a graveyard of headstones or sarcophagi, and serves as a reminder of lives lost during the Holocaust. 

Old Cemetery 
What looks like a small park in Berlin’s Mitte district was once the city’s first Jewish cemetery, destroyed by the Nazis in 1943. Some 2,700 people were buried in the Old Cemetery (Friedhof Grosse Hamburger Strasse), including German Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. Today the site contains a sarcophagus filled with sand from destroyed gravestones, which commemorates all those buried there.

New Synagogue
Once Berlin’s main synagogue, this structure was destroyed by Allied bombing during WWII and rebuilt during the late 20th century as a memorial to the Jewish faith. Today the Moorish-style New Synagogue houses the Jewish Center (Centrum Juaicum), which depicts the story of the building and the people who worshipped there.

Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp Memorial
Located just north of Berlin, Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp was once one of the Nazi regime’s harshest prison camps. Today Sachsenhausen is a museum and memorial to the thousands of people who lost their lives there, with a library, archive, and open-air exhibits.
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