Our busy day began late due to a traffic jam in Berlin due to the NATO meeting held here this morning. We visited the Jewish Museum of Berlin, which was designed by architect Daniel Libeskind.
To view pictures of the museum and its architecture, click here.
Shalmi spoke to us about a theme of Liebeskind involving "voids"--a term that signifies the absence of something that once was present. To Liebeskind, his architecture in this museum shows the absence of Jews in Europe after the Holocaust. Shalmi again spoke of the one-sided love affair and the love that Jews felt for Germany before the Holocaust. He said that Germany,as does a former lover, jilted the Jews, and dumped them, completely rejecting the one-sided love the Jews felt for their country. For Shalmi, this museum poses one question - does Germany miss the presence of Jewish culture in German society? Is there lack of presence felt as a void by modern German society?
We looked extensively at the history of antisemitism in Europe. Two statues personify the Church, Ecclesia, and the Judaism, Synagogue. These depictions illustrate the antisemitism through the blindfolded Synagogue holding a broken lance.
One of the exhibits within the Jewish Museum is called "Fallen Leaves." The video above shows us walking on the steel faces which represent Jews whose lives were lost during the Holocaust.
After our four hour train ride from Berlin to Prague, we ate dinner at a beautiful, Czech restaurant with traditional Czech entertainment.
Theresa says . . .
Today we visited the Jewish Museum and one exhibit really stood out to me. The exhibit “Fallen Leaves” was really different, but it had so much meaning behind it. In one of the “voids” of the museum was a dark hallway with thousands of steel faces carved out that covered the floor. At first I didn't realize what they were until Mr. Barmore told us to walk on them. I went reluctantly and felt really uncomfortable walking on faces that symbolized Jews who died in the Holocaust. The noise was also so loud which made the experience even more eerie. The more I thought about it, the exhibit being called “Fallen Leaves” almost made the exhibit seem unimportant. As we all know, leaves fall every year, and it's a natural thing that we almost look forward to. With an exhibit signifying the Jews who died in the Holocaust being called “Fallen Leaves,” it makes the Holocaust seem like a natural thing that happens a lot. It is the total opposite. The exhibit made me feel uncomfortable but it also evoked so many emotions that I didn't know I could get out of one single exhibit.
Kassandra says . . .
While in the Jewish Museum, our group visited the exhibit “Fallen Leaves.” This being one of the “Voids” really created a lot of emotion for me. Right when we had walked into the room, which was basically a hallway with steel faces covering the ground, I got hit with a feeling of sadness and guilt. I had these two emotions because of the opportunity of being able to walk across the hall. When everyone was walking you can hear the loud clinging sounds of the steel. But to me, it was something different. When walking across with the others, I was trying to be so careful as to not step hard on these faces. As I continued walking slowly, I could hear the loud clinging sounds getting louder, but to me, that sound wasn't just metal being stepped on. To me, it was the sound of peoples' cries and screams of being tortured, and their spirits stepped upon. Because of this feeling of disrespect and guilt, I began to get very emotional, just about at the verge of tears. It was and still is amazing to me how one simple exhibit or memory can touch someone so much!
Nick says . . .
Today, in the Jewish History Museum, we found ourselves confronted with an art exhibition representing a void -- a void that supposedly represented the hole in German society created by the vast numbers of Jews lost during Hitler's reign. Previously, when speaking of the ardent Jewish desire to assimilate into German society throughout history, Shalmi remarked that the relationship between Germany and the Jewish community was like an unrequited love. During the Holocaust, it was as if Germania, the female symbol of Germany, sadistically attempted to end the relationship forever.
Following the Holocaust, one needs to look at Germania and her feelings: did she feel satisfaction that the removal of the Jews [in their one-sided love affair] had nearly been accomplished? Or did she truly feel a void in her life by the loss of her lover?
It is a vital question when evaluating the modern, "new" Germany: are the "missed" Jews really missed by Lady Germania? Does she truly feel guilty for her cruel deeds? Or is she simply putting on a facade of guilt in an attempt to make herself appear more kind in the eyes of others? All are questions that can apply to Germany today, but only time will reveal the true sentiments of Lady Germania.