From the museum, we continued to the Otto Weidt Workshop for the Blind. In this factory, students heard about the blind and deaf employees who made brooms and brushes from horse hair and pig hair. Otto Weidt also employed Jews, and used the Berlin Work Act to legally keep employing his Jewish workers during the war. Otto protected his Jewish employees by a Jewish family in a secret room built behind a secret wardrobe closet. Inside the false back wall of the wardrobe, behind clothing was an opening into the room where the Jews would sleep at night and hide during Gestapo inspections.
After a time out for a lovely lunch in the square, we continued learning as we walked to the Jewish Cemetery. On the way, Olaf pointed out the Stumbling Stones memorials scattered throughout Berlin, which are brass squares placed in the sidewalk near buildings in which Berlin Jews lived prior to being deported and killed during the Holocaust. Each stone has engraved information about with the name, birthday and fate of the individual.
From there, we walked to the Old-New Synagogue, which was inaugurated in 1867. In 1938, during Kristallnacht, the synagogue was burned and vandalized by the SA. However, the chief of police of the neighborhood,Wilhelm Krutzfeld, prevented more destruction by chasing away the arsonists and calling the fire department. The synagogue was ready for use again by April of 1939, but in 1940 it was confiscated by the Wehrmacht and used as a warehouse for the remainder of the war. The last service was held in March of 1940.
Gabrielle V. says: