Christmas and New Year's Eve in Berlin

21 12 2007

I have been to Berlin one day last Christmas, and I tell you, it’s beautiful. The city is crammed with Christmas markets, there are lots of Christmas activities, and of course, New Year’s Eve is celebrated with splendor.
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Neue Synagogue in Oranienburger Strasse

17 12 2007

The synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse 28-30 was opened in 1866, then the largest synagogue in Germany, with 3,200 seats. Otto von Bismarck was present at its inauguration. It is located in what was back then a large Jewish district, and now is a very popular spot, crowded with pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Neue Synagogue enterance

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Some more Holocaust related memorials

5 12 2007

The Missing House: A work by Christian Boltanski, from 1990, located on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, across the street from the Jewish School, not very far from the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse. The missing building was destroyed in WW2. Some of its former residents were Jews. Boltanski constructed there “a memorial space dedicated to absence”. The signs on the walls indicate the names, dates of birth and death and profession of the former residents.

The Missing House.

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"Places of Remembrance" in the Bavarian Quarter

3 12 2007

The memorial “Places of Remembrance”, created by the artist Renata Stih and the art historian Frieder Schnock, consists of 80 street signs, presenting anti-Jewish laws and regulations under Nazi rule. One side of each such sign shows a picture, the other a piece of anti-Jewish legislation.

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The Sachsenhausen concentration camp

1 12 2007

The Sachsenhausen concentration camp is located some 35 kilometers from Berlin, in Oranienburg. You get there by taking the S1 from Berlin to Oranienburg central station, and from there taking bus line 804 directly to the place.

Entrance from outside. Entrance from the inside.

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Fatherland – a novel

29 11 2007

Fatherland, by Robert Harris, is, in my opinion, one of those rare examples of good fiction combining historical knowledge and philosophical insights.

Basically, it is a detective novel, focusing on a murder investigation, taking place in Nazi Germany, around the time of Hitler’s 75th birthday celebrations. The “hero” (more of an anti-hero, actually) is a detective in the criminal police (Kripo). The deceased – an “Alter Kampfer”, that is, one of the Nazi party’s real veterans, together with Hitler since the putsch of 1923. And that’s all I’ll say here about the plot of the book, since I think it is really worth reading, and do not want to spoil it for those of you who will read it…

Fatherland - a novel

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House of the Wannsee Conference

27 11 2007

The Villa Marlier on Am Großen Wannsee 56-58, the place where the conference dealing with the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem” was held back on 20 January 1942, is nowadays a memorial and educational center.

Villa Marlier on Am Großen Wannsee

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Grünewald Train Station – Gleis 17

25 11 2007

The Grünewald S-Bahn station is a train station on the S7 line going to Potsdam. This station was the place where the deportations occurred. More than 50,000 of Berlin’s Jews were deported from here to extermination camps.

Gleis 17 Gleis 17 sign

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Remembering the Holocaust

23 11 2007

The next few posts will deal with a subject close to my heart, and one of the things that first attracted me to this magnificent city. That is, the memory of the Holocaust. I have already mentioned here before I have personal interest in this subject, being what is known as “third generation to the Holocaust”, and obsessed about the issue.

My particular obsession is focused on learning from history, making sure such things never happen to anyone, anywhere. One of the aspects of learning from history is the issue of dealing with the memory. Being a descendant of victims is not an easy thing. There’s a lot of unremitting pain involved, a lot of distress, a lot of very tangible loss, still very much alive. But I always thought that being a descendant of the perpetrators is even harder.
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Berlin Festival of Lights 2007

21 11 2007

Berlin isn’t a “City of Lights” like Paris is. True, it is known for it’s lively nightlife, but but only on weekends. Actually, on most week nights it is rather dark. But this only made these festival days last October even more exciting. Here’s a taste of what we saw (click on the images to enlarge / for a slideshow). Click here for more about the Berlin’s Festival of Light.


Park Inn, Alexanderplatz.
Alexanderplatz. Fire blower. Yonit near Brandenburg Gate.
Karl Liebknecht strasse. Alexanderplatz TV Tower. Europa Center.
Berliner Dom.
A fountain near Alte Museum. A fat statue near Alte Museum. Tripod shooters. Berliner Dom. Inside the Reichstag.
Brandenburg Gate. On the street. Hassische strasse.