Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Day 4 Berlin - Prague

For tonight's blog, instead of pictures, we have included video reflections of students on their Berlin experiences, filmed during our train ride from Berlin to Prague.

Our busy day began at the Book Burning Memorial near Humbolt University. Here, in 1933, students burned books written by Jews, socialists and political dissidents. The memorial is not visible from the street, in fact, one has to almost walk over it to even see it. Under the ground, beneath clear plexiglass, is a room lined with empty, white bookshelves. Shalmi again asked the question, “Who were these people” who fought the power of ideas and the power of words by burning them? What an unexpected place to burn books and to be threatened by ideas: in a city square adjacent to Humbolt University. Engraved in the plaque near the memorial is the Heinrich Heine quote "There where they burn books, they will be one day burning people." Ironically, and perhaps prophetically, Heine wrote this in 1820.

Our day continued at the Rosenstrasse Memorial. This site recognizes the brave Christian women, whose Jewish husbands and children were arrested during the Factory Action, in February of 1943, when the Nazis swept through Berlin in their efforts to make it "Jew Free". These women, whose husbands and children were being kept in the former Jewish Community Center on Rosenstrasse street, stood outside in an unarmed, quiet protest, demanding the release of their families. Despite Nazi efforts to make them go away, they did not give up, and Joseph Goebbels, the Minister of Propaganda, decided to release them to prevent a public relations nightmare and prevent additional protests.This memorial calls to mind what Shalmi spoke of as the sensitivity of the dictator to the will of the people. As brutal as a regime may be, if people protest and don't give in, the regime will fail.

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 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 more questions - does Germany miss the presence of Jewish culture in German society? Is there lack of presence felt as a void by modern German society?

After our five hour train ride from Berlin to Prague, we ate dinner at a beautiful, Czech restaurant with traditional Czech entertainment.


  1. Great job everyone!! The addition of the Blog the past two years helped bring your responses to us back in NJ. Now, with the videos we're hearing and seeing your reactions and this adds another dimension. Thank You so much, Mr. Chang!!
    You have a lot ahead of you. Having 2 son's who experienced this amazing trip, I can truly say this is something that will stay with you the rest of your life. I look forward to seeing/hearing/reading more about your tour this year.
    Best wishes to all...You're in great hands with Mrs. T!!!

  2. Wow what a powerful statement written by Heine. Do you guys think anyone actually thought about this during the burning of the books? I can't imagine that when Heine said this that he thought it would one day happen. We must now continue to educate our selves to make sure it never happens again.

    When I think abut the Rosenstrasse Memorial I often wonder what would have happened if more people had the willpower to fight back like these women did. Sure they endured a few hardships but in the end their husbands were released and allowed to return home to him. I believe if I was put in that position I would react the same way, since coming home from the trip last year I have become very passionate about what I believe in and standing up for what is right and I am sure many of you will come back changed. I also absolutely love the design of the memorial is slightly abstract but still portrays the message of these husbands returning to their wives.

    How did you guys feel walking through the Jewish Museum? How did the architecture and how the museum and all the voids and abstract shapes make you feel? Did you guys walk through the fallen leaves void? How much of an impact did it have on you? I can still pictures the faces and sounds from there as if it was just yesterday that I was walking through.

    T, Mr. Chang, Mrs. Bauman, and Mrs. Sussman you guys are doing an amazing job with the blog and an even more amazing thing in the students lives.

    Everyone enjoy Praha and continue to learn and grow!!!


  3. Shalmi's metaphor of the love one has for a country that betrays them is insightful and powerful. Perhaps we can talk more about that as we prepare the Holocaust book... Think about it. Great work already all.

  4. I just got in but had to be consistent and read (or watch) your blog. Hope all is well. Love the videos. Hey Devanni, are you okay? Haven't seen much of you. Let me know you're still alive (lol). Till tomorrow.

    Mr. Pevny

  5. The videos were a great touch and a fun way to handle a 5 hour train ride!
    Hope you all have a wonderful time on this next leg of your journey... a new day, and another culture to observe and learn!

  6. We are learning so much from all of you on this journey. Seeing you speak and hearing your voices tonight was a great addition to the blog. Expressing your feelings and thoughts here might not be the easiest for all. Thanks for sharing. Hope you were able to rest some on the train ride and can't wait to read your posts again tomorrow.

  7. It is hard to believe that still in many places around the world the act of burning books continues. Keep your eyes open and learn from this experience. Books may hold the key to wisdom and truth but knowledge is past through the teaching of people. Continue to enjoy the experience. Love and Laughter... The Lieberman Family

  8. That train ride is the most beautiful thing ever. The scenery is breath-taking, just wait until you guys explore the city of Prague! It looks like one giant postcard, everything is perfect. Continue to learn with an open mind and heart, it will pay off at the end of your trip when you have to write your personal reflection.

    Such a brilliant idea to add videos of the students on the blog! That's awesome, definitely helps parents/families out back at home.

  9. Great job one and all. The videos added a very human touch. The book burning exhibit seems intriguing, thanks, Ty, and Ben's comment ended with a surprising peek into how deeply this trip is affecting all of you. Each of the videos offered similar tribute to the value of this trip, as seen in your expressions and movements, as definitely heard in your voices. Keep open to the journey, you are educating us well so far!

  10. I am throughly impressed at not only the depth of your reflections, but also by the incorporation of numerous 21st Century skills into this blog. The videos are fantastic!

  11. I stand continually amazed at the students' insights and the depth of reflection. I especially enjoyed Ben's comment about the feelings that he encountered at the Axis of Exile and the Axis of Holocaust. It's heartening to see you find emotional and intellectual connections to the things that normally are "just" read in your history books. Continue your journey safely and with your ever growing sense of inquiry.

  12. I loved seeing the videos and hearing you reflect on what you saw and learned. When I studied abroad in Germany, I spent some time in Berlin and went to some of the same places. I love hearing what affected you the most. Continue enjoying your trip and I can't wait to read your next blog!

    Ms. Lyons

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