We were then introduced to Marouan, from Tunisia. He told us of a Jewish saying “If people are forgotten, they die a second time.” The students want to be sure citizens who lived in their neighborhood, are not forgotten; to keep their memory alive. He showed us a suitcase which was another project they had done. Jews were allowed to pack one suitcase as they were deported to the east - destination unknown. The suitcases were marked with the owner’s name, address, and often the transport number or date of birth. Marouan told us about the suitcase for Alfred Israel Berger of 1 Stubbenstrasse and how they spoke of what might be included in his suitcase. Evielin, from Georgia, and Elmin, from Turkey, then conducted an activity with us, in which they showed us a picture of one of the memorial signs in the quarter and asked if we could determine what the law or discriminatory rule was. They then explained each of these signs and how each rule impacted the Jewish community. For example, one picture was a loaf of bread and the law was that ‘Jews are only allowed to buy food between 4 and 5 in the afternoon’. Marouan, Evelin and Elmin all delivered their presentations in English, which our students found amazing, and they were wonderful ambassadors for the school and the project. We were then taken outside to the wall we had so wanted to visit and had time to closely inspect the stones. Marouan showed us the stone for Alfred Israel Berger.
The students then took us to 1 Stubbenstrasse where Alfred Berger had lived and they showed us the stolpersteine [stepping stones] before the building. Stolpersteine are brass plaques placed throughout Berlin and other European cities, where Jews lived before being deported. Each plaque had the name, date of birth, date of deportation and date and place of death. As Marouan, Evelin and Emlin left us to return to school, we had the chance to walk around the Bavarian Quarter, noting several signs.
This was a truly unique opportunity for our students and we want to thank Mrs. Niclasen for being such an inspiring educator and all of the 6th graders, past and present, who have voluntarily decided to be a part of such a meaningful project. And of course, a special thank you to our new friends, Marouan, Evelin and Emlin. We learned so much from you and believe you truly live your school’s mission: Our school doesn’t forget the past, shapes the present courageously, and prepares the future with responsibility. It was noted that in such a diverse school the goal was to ensure these students understood the consequences of discrimination and developed a sense of appreciation for their differences and an empathy towards each other.
After lunch, we went to the Wannsee House. It was in this house, located on the beautiful waterfront lake, Wannsee, that representatives of the bureaucratic agencies would meet on January 20, 1942 for a luncheon over which they would discuss how to implement the plan known as the Final Solution. Mr. Barmore told us the Nazis were faced with a paradox: they came to power in 1933 and wanted to solve the “Jewish Question”, but did not know how. The Nazi ideology was racist and about the survival of the fittest [the Aryan race], but in the beginning they were more about expulsion of Jews from society rather than their annihilation. On the one hand, they wanted to eliminate Jews from society, but on the other, they didn’t have a clue as to how they were going to accomplish their goal. Yet in nine years, there would be 5 factories of death operating in Poland, with precisely that function. So how did they arrive at 1941, doing exactly what they could not conceive of doing in 1933?
Therefore there were three phases in the Twisted Road to Auschwitz, I-Emigration and Legislation, II-Ghettoization, and III-Annihilation. Through this process the Nazis came to be what they could not conceive of when they initially came to power. Heydrich and representatives of the bureaucratic agencies which would be used in the murder of Europe’s Jewish population delineated the process for it here, over lunch, in this house where we now stood.
Our next visit was to the train station in Grunewald, a very wealthy residential area of Berlin. It was from this train station, beginning on October 18, 1941, that most of Berlin’s Jewish residents were to be deported. Olaf showed us three memorials at Grunewald to the deportation. The first memorial was a cross section of railroad ties in front of the entrance to the train station, established by a local group of Lutheran women in 1987, with a plaque commemorating the beginning of the deportations and a group of trees which had been brought from Auschwitz and planted there. The second memorial was a wall which depicted figures as they walked up the hill to the train platform to be deported. The third memorial established by the German Railroad, was two platforms lined by plaques which represented each deportation train from Grunewald, listing the date, the number of Jews and the destination of the train, including Theresienstadt, Lodz, Riga and Auschwitz.
Wanlin says : At the Bavarian Quarter School today I learned from three 6th grade students how they wanted to continue the legacy of building a memorial to victims of the Holocaust who lived in their neighborhood. I was surprised by their dedication to the project and their ability to communicate their personal experiences with the stories of each individual they researched.
Dave says: Today our talk with the Afgani refugees brought up this question in my mind, "Is the world going stand by and watch this or do something to help the situation?" This question confronted the world before during the Holocaust and how a nation responds is critically important. I hope for the sake of these two teenages I met today, Mohammed and Sanaz that the world doesn't sit by passively.
Bryce says: - Refugees: While the absence of difficulties may otherwise breed indifference, these families having to struggle for 50 days only for a chance at a better life ultimately cultivates character in a way no other experience can. I was humbled in the shadow of their grave and immiduate threats to their safety and secuirty when compared to the much smaller problems we have in the United States.
Mary says:- The school we visited today is a perfect example of connecting the past to the present in an extraordinary way. The younger generation is able to make connections to the past and understand the history that fills their city and teach it in a more modern way. The names that make up the wall will never be forgotten and we have these amazing children to thank for that.
Alysia says: I was told today of Jewish saying - When someone is forgotten he dies a second death. This saying influences every thought and saying of the children and teachers in the Bavarian Quarter school because they all have devoted their time to ensure that the Jewish victims would not fade into history. One way that they do this is with their yellow brick wall that 6th graders are able to add on to each year that has the names of these victims so that they might never be forgotten.
Saige says: Today I was very impressed with the 6th graders at the Bavarian Quarter School. I cannot imagine being that age and understanding the historical significance of my neighborhood while willingly participating in the creation of a memorial that remembers those lost to the Holocaust.
Lizzy says: I was amazed today by meeting two young Afghani refugees. All I have been hearing back home is that refugees are extremists who endanger the well being of their host countries. What I saw today flies in the face of that. The two refugees I met and the young children I saw today represent the neediest of humanity - I am hopefull for their futures and I am glad I learned the truth about their situation.
Erika says: Education from a young age is one of the most essential ways to create a compassionate generation who not only acknowledges and shows respect to the history of their nation, but will prevent tragedies from happening in the future. The kids we met today at the Bavarian Quarter Elementary School proved that the Holocaust and its victims will never go unremembered. As they are surrounded by memories every day and each year work to build a memorial to those who fell as victims, a hope for future generations is made clear.
Stephanie says: Today while visiting the elementary school we learned about how Holocaust education can greatly impact a student. The principal of the school told us of a story of a student from Lebanon named Mustafa who refused to add a brick to the memorial that the school personally builds throughout the years because he did not want to lay a brick for a person who was a part of the people who were in war with his people. But the boy met a survivor and heard her story and it changed his view on the matter of putting a brick so he went to the princpal the next day and told her that he would like to create a brick for the memorial. After hearing the story, I thought about how a story from one survivor changed one's perspective and help shape a better future.
Brandon says: Today we visited an elementary school in Berlin that was an original Jewish school during the Holocaust. In the school the students did a project in which they wrote the name of a Jewish victim from their neighborhood on a brick and they researched their story. This showed how close to home the Holocaust and the discrimination of the Jews was to these kids.
Fiona says: At the end of the day we visited a hotel in Berlin which acts as a home for refugees where there we were given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk to two teenage Afghani refugees about their long and draining 50 day journey. As the brother and sister, 17 and 16 years old, talked about the struggles they faced, from being separated from their father to becoming extremely ill, I not only became moved and humbled by their resilience, but I reflect upon the manner in which society treats the refugees. Many people today, especially in America, view the refugees as threats. After listening to Mohammed and Sanaz talk, it became clear that it is time for people in America to educate themselves on this issue and come to treat these refugess as the strong and brave individuals that they are.
Justin says: After a full day of learning and visiting some amazing sites, we went to a hotel, and after being shown around the premises and seeing the amenities, we sat down and listened to the stories of two young refugees from Afghanistan. They spoke of their struggles with warlords and terrorists back home, their appreciation for Berlin, and their ambitions for the future. I am not only grateful for the opportunity to speak one on one with real refugees after seeing them sensationalized and objectified in the media, but am humbled to have been in the presence of children who have been through so much.
Nikki says: The children's candid and detailed knowledge of the Holocaust at the Bavarian Quarter School perfectly embodies the young German generation's sensibility; this response was not only unexpected for children their age, but also uniquely personal because of the visible connection to their community.
Kaitlyn says: At the Bavarian Quarter School children of different ages, cultures, religions and ethnicity engage in social interaction and a part of history that is difficult for adults to discuss. There is a level of empowerment and encouragement that I saw in this school and these children. They amazed me with their dedication to the memorial project commemorating their former Jewish neighbors. This open mindedness shows how their work will help shape future generations.
Chanila says: Understanding what has happened to the refugees by first hand experiences was unbelievably surreal. Listening to two young teenagers about their stuggles to leave their homeland that is filled with violence caused me to realize how not everything is black and white. There is more to a story than what the news reveals and it seems that not everything that is on the news is accurate. I realized that the American people need to stop relying so much on the media and get out into the world and see for themselves what is really happening in the world.