Wednesday, April 7, 2010
April 7 - Day 2 Berlin
Our morning began with Shalmi Barmore explaining about the concept of identity and personal narratives. How people describe themselves tells a lot about how they view not only themselves, but also their view of history. Cities, like Berlin, a city that lives with its history,also grapples with their ghosts.
Travelling to the Wannsee
Villa on this gorgeous sunny morning, Olaf talked about the city of West Berlin and the beautiful area of homes near Wannsee lake. The meeting at Wannsee, which occurred January 20, 1942, consisted of Nazi bureaucrats who had been given the task of figuring out how to carry out the Final Solution. Again the paradox presents itself: In this beautiful setting, with a sunny lake just outside the floor to ceiling windows, top bureaucrats of the German government looked at Eichmann's typed list of the number of Jews in countries already occupied by Germany, and the countries that Germany planned to concur. These bureaucrats figured out the practical side of how to carry out the plan concocted by the Nazi officials.
From Wannsee, we travelled to the Grunewald train station, in a beautiful section of Berlin where big, gorgeous houses look out over the tracks where trains deported thousands of Berlin's Jews. We walked along this memorial that lists the day, month and year as well as the ghetto or camp where the Jews were deported, in plain sight from the windows of the beautiful houses near the tracks.
From there, we went to the Bavarian quarter of Berlin, a neighborhood where many Jews lived before the Nazi deportations began. Throughout the streets of this neighborhood, signs are posted which depict images and anti-Jewish legislation which show how the rights of Jews were gradually taken away. Along one street, an artist's mural depicts life in the Bavarian quarter during the late 19th century. Here we discussed the artist's interpretation of a man who is Jewish, and whether our interpretations of the picture is colored by our knowledge of anti-Jewish propaganda, or if the picture truly reflects the artist's sentiments.