Fotoeins Fotografie

questions of place & home

Posts from the ‘Jewish-German History’ category

Past and present histories of Jewish communities and culture in Germany

Rothenburg ob der Tauber: Jewish history since 1180

After their visit, most will depart Rothenburg ob der Tauber with memories of a romantic medieval town that seems almost frozen in time.

But a careful measured walk also produces a deeper examination of the town’s history with clear signs to an historical and centuries-old presence of Jews. A Jewish settlement goes back to at least 1180 AD/CE in written records with the appearance of the name of Samuel Biscopf, a Jew from Rothenburg ob der Tauber (“erste Erwähnung eines Rotenburger Juden”: [ℵ1], p. 136; [ℵ2], pp. 133-135).

The centuries are marked with a growing thriving Jewish community, persecution, violent death, explusion, and a return to life.

Summary Timeline:

•   1180 AD/CE, first mention of Jewish community in Rothenburg; 1st Jewish quarter and synagogue at present-day Kapellenplatz.
•   1250-1286, Rabbi Meir ben Baruch, teaching life and times in Rothenburg.
•   1298, Rintfleisch-Pogrom: 450 Jews killed in Rothenburg; total 5000 Jews dead in Franconia.
•   1339, some of the first set of graves buried at the Jewish Cemetery, at present-day Schrannenplatz
•   1349, Pogrom and persecution, Jews accused of poisoning wells with corpses due to the Black Death.
•   1370, Establishment of 2nd Jewish quarter, around Judengasse.
•   1404, 1st Synagogue converted to St. Mary’s Chapel.
•   1407, 2nd Synagogue constructed close to burial ground, at present-day Schrannenplatz.
•   1520, Theologian Johann Teuschlein incites anti-Jewish hysteria, forcing expulsion of all Jews from Rothenburg. No Jews allowed in the city for next 350 years; 2nd Synagogue and Jewish cemetery destroyed.
•   1861, all Jews allowed to settle anywhere in Bavaria.
•   1870-1875, Jews begin returning to the city.
•   1872, Equality granted among Jews and Christians, after the 1871 constitution of the new German Empire.
•   1888, Prayer hall (“3rd synagogue”) at present-day Herrngasse 21.
•   1875, 2nd Jewish cemetery at Würzburger Strasse and Wiesenstrasse.
•   1938, Rothenburg declared “free of Jews” on 22 October, as last remaining 17 Jews driven out, two and a half weeks before the Reichspogromnacht.
•   1942, 2nd cemetery desecrated and destroyed. Few, if any, descendants of early 20th-century community remain or known to be alive.

The word “pogrom” is a late 19th- to early 20th-century Russian word (“погром”), derived from the verb “gromit” (громи́ть) meaning “to destroy with violence.” While “pogrom” is used generally to describe mob violence by one ethnic or religious group on another, the term is used in this post to describe attacks on the Jewish community.


The following map shows a recommended 1.6 km (1 mi) self-guided walk with labeled stops and corresponding descriptions and photographs below. The walk begins and ends at Marktplatz near the Tourist Information centre. Click on the “arrow-window” icon at the upper-left corner of the map below for additional details.


1. Kapellenplatz (Chapel Square), 1st Jewish quarter

Beginning in about 1180 AD/CE, the first Jewish settlement was centred here in the area of present-day Kapellenplatz. The historically renowned teacher Rabbi Meir ben Baruch played a critical role in synagogue- and (Talmud) school-life in the mid to late 13th-century. With Jews blamed for the Black Death resulting in the 1350 Pogrom, houses left behind by expelled Jews were claimed by the town. Returning Jews established a new community around Judengasse and Schrannenplatz. By the early 15th-century, the abandoned (first) synagogue had been converted into St. Mary’s Chapel, which itself was torn down in 1805. After complete destruction from bombing in World War Two, nothing original remains at Kapellenplatz.

Kapellenplatz, Chapel Square, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com

Northwest corner, Kapellenplatz

Kapellenplatz, Chapel Square, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com

South side, Kapellenplatz


2. Rabbi-Meir-Gedenktafel (Meir Memorial Plaque), 1st Synagogue

At the entrance to the building at Kapellenplatz 5 is a bronze plaque to memorialize the presence of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch whose synagogue and school were once at the present location. A leading Talmud scholar and authority of his time, he wrote commentary and poetry, and taught and mentored in Rothenburg ob der Tauber between 1250 and 1286.

Rabbi Meir ben Baruch von Rothenburg, einem der bedeutendsten Talmudgelehrten. Zum Gedenken. Geboren um 1220 in Worms, lebte und wirkte er von etwa 1250 bis 1286 in der Synagoge und in der Talmudschule, die auf diesem Platz standen, dem ersten Judenviertel Rothenburgs. Er starb 1293 in Ensisheim und wurde 1307 in Worms begraben. Synagoge und Talmudschule wurden 1404 in eine Marienkapelle und in ein Seelhaus umgewandelt. Die Marienkapelle wurde 1805 abgebrochen.

In memoriam to Rabbi Meir ben Baruch of Rothenburg, one of the most important Talmud scholars of his time. Born around 1215-1220 in Worms, he lived and worked between 1250 to 1286 at the Synagogue and Talmud School at this present-day square where the first Jewish settlement in Rothenburg was located. He died 1293 in Ensisheim; he was later buried in his hometown of Worms in 1307. From 1404, the Synagogue and Talmud school were converted, respectively, to St Mary’s Church and a shelter for the poor and sick. Neither building survived to the present day.

Rabbi-Meir-Gedenktafel, Rabbi Meir Memorial Plaque, Kapellenplatz, Chapel Square, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bayern, Bavaria, Germany, fotoeins.com

Bronze memorial plaque to Rabbi Meir ben Baruch.


3. Rabbi-Meir-Gärtchen (Rabbi Meir garden)

In memory of Rabbi Meir ben Baruch (2. above), the garden is next to the old Judentanzhaus (“Jewish dance hall”: built around 1400, modified 1613, burned down from bombing 1945, reconstructed 1953). In 1914, Jewish tombstones were unearthed at the old Jewish cemetery (see 5. below); some of these tombstones are now embedded in the garden’s surrounding wall. Hebrew inscriptions on the stones and their German and English translations are found here. On the ground, a memorial in the garden proper commemorates the last number of Jews who were driven out of Rothenburg in 1938.

Rabbi-Meir-Gärtchen, Judentanzhaus, Weisser Turm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Rabbi-Meir-Gärtchen, Judentanzhaus (D-5-71-193-120)

Rabbi-Meir-Gärtchen, Judentanzhaus, Weisser Turm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Jewish gravestones imbedded into wall.

Rabbi-Meir-Gärtchen, Judentanzhaus, Weisser Turm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Rabbi-Meir-Gärtchen, Judentanzhaus, Weisser Turm, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Zum Gedenken an unsere jüdischen Mitbürger, die in der Zeit von 1933 bis 1938 aus Rothenburg vertrieben wurden.” (In memory of our Jewish citizens who were expelled from Rothenburg between 1933 and 1938.)


4. Judengasse (east end), 2nd Jewish quarter

From about 1370, the Jewish community established a second community and living quarter around what is now called Judengasse, or “Jews Alley”. The photo below shows the east end of present-day Judengasse at Am Platzl.

Judengasse, Am Platzl, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

 


5. Schrannenplatz (Granary), 2nd Synagogue

What’s interesting is that Judenkirchhof was renamed Schrannenplatz in 1958. The present site was already known as the Jewish burial ground in 1339, and by 1410, a new and second synagogue had been built nearby. After the expulsion of Jews in 1520, the synagogue was converted to a chapel which itself was torn down by 1561. After 1520, the cemetery was converted to Christian use, and was enlarged a decade later with Jewish graves dug up and their bones removed. When the site was opened for construction in 1914, over 30 Jewish tombstones with dates between 1266 and 1395 were discovered. These stones are presently found in the wall of the Rabbi-Meir-Garden (3. above), the Reichsttadtmuseum (10. below), and the Jewish Museum Franconia in Fürth (about 120 km east-northeast from Rothenburg ob der Tauber).

Schrannenplatz, Judenfriedhof, Stadtmauer, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Southeast corner of Schrannenplatz, facing northwest

Schrannenplatz, Judenfriedhof, Stadtmauer, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

South side, Schrannenplatz

Schrannenplatz 17/18, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Judenkirchhof” (Jewish cemetery), at Schrannenplatz 17/18


6. “Judenkirchhof” inscription, Schrannenplatz 16

This barn at Schrannenplatz 16 dates back to about 1783. During the period of exclusion of Jews (1520-1870), all stonework associated with the 2nd Synagogue and adjacent cemetery was considered basic building materials. Not only does the faded inscription suggest a link to the area’s past, but also suggests the desecration of Jewish graves and symbols and incorporation into subsequent construction.

Schrannenplatz 16, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Former barn at Schrannenplatz 16 (D-5-71-193-539). A closer view of the area within the dashed box is shown below.

Schrannenplatz 16, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Left: faded inscription “Judenkirchhof” (“Jewish cemetery”). Right: “This building was constructed by Johan Bernhard Kohn in 1783.”


7. Judengasse, at Heugasse

In the final quarter of the 14th-century, Jews returned to Rothenburg and began settling outside the first town wall. The street took on the name “Judengasse” or Jews’ Alley as far back as 1377, and both Jews and Christians lived among another. With cautious painstaking detail to renovation, some 21 buildings remain mostly in their original form, which makes Judengasse the only late-medieval Jewish street to survive in Europe.

Judengasse Heugasse, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Judengasse, west from Heugasse


8. Judengasse 10 and 15/17

The Mikwe (Mikveh) or ritual bath at Judengasse 10 still contains groundwater, but is under private property and not open to the public. A replica of the Mikwe is in the Reichsstadtmuseum. Across from Judengasse 10 is the double-house at 15/17 with two entrance arches resembling two stone tablets for the Ten Commandments. The following two photos at Judengasse 10 and 15/17 are by Tillman2007 (Wikipedia, CC3 license).

Judengasse 10 (D-5-71-193-241): initial construction to 1409; alterations to 1558 from dendrochronological dating.

Judengasse 15/17 (D-5-71-193-245): initial construction to 1399 from dendrochronological dating.

9. Judengasse (west end), 2nd Jewish quarter

At the west end of Judengasse (at Klingengasse), a memorial plaque commemorates the presence of the Jewish quarter (Jüdisches Viertel), from about 1371 to 1520.

Jüdisches Wohnviertel, Jewish quarter, Judengasse, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

South on Klingengasse, at Judengasse. Hotel Schwarzer Adler: built in 1784 over the remains of the old Blue Tower city gate (D-5-71-193-292).

Jüdisches Wohnviertel, Jewish quarter, Judengasse, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Judengasse, facing east-southeast. The fountain in the centre-foreground (D-5-71-193-319) was built in 1600 with the column and lion figure added in 1704; the second fountain was added between 1715 and 1830.

Jüdisches Wohnviertel, Jewish quarter, Judengasse, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

הרובע היהודי, Jüdisches Viertel (Jewish Quarter), ca. 1371-1520. Memorial plaque on building address Klingengasse 12 (D-5-71-193-292).


10. Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum (Imperial City Museum)

The Judaica collection in the Imperial City Museum contains items related to Rabbi Meir and Jewish gravestones uncovered during construction at Schrannenplatz in 1914 and saved from destruction. Very few items representing daily life in the medieval Jewish community survived to the present-day.

Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum, Imperial City Museum, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Memorial to the Rintfleisch 1298 pogrom: recovered original tablet with Hebrew inscription; German and English translations in 11. below.

Grabsteine, Judenkirchhof, Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Recovered 13th- and 14th-century gravestones from Jewish cemetery.

Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum, Imperial City Museum, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Bronze signet for Jewish community in Rothenburg (“R”), about 1410.

Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum, Imperial City Museum, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Chanukkah candle holder (Fayence style): Bohemia, 1773.

Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum, Imperial City Museum, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Silver wedding ring in the shape of a tower: Hungary/Bohemia, about 1900.

Judaica, Reichsstadtmuseum, Imperial City Museum, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Silver dreidl: Hungary 1987. “נס גדול היה שם” (Nes Gadol Hayah Sham), “a great miracle happened there”.


11. Pogrom-Gedenkstein, Burggarten (Pogrom memorial, Castle Gardens)

To mark the 700th anniversary of the 1298 Pogrom, a memorial stone was established in 1998 on the north side of the Chapel of St. Blaise in the Castle Gardens. The original memorial stone in Hebrew is now located in the city’s Judaica collection of the Imperial City Museum; see 10. above. The German translation of the Hebrew inscription goes:

With a bitter soul an equally bitter cry, because we have forgotten about the first persecutions. In their memory I have chiselled onto a stone tablet Rothenburg’s martyrs who were killed and burned because of the uniqueness of God, in the year 58 according to the small counting of the 19th Tamus. And in the castle outside of town, residents forced a conclusion by lighting a fire and killing young and old alike. On the 12th day of the fifth month of the sixth thousand year my job came to an end and on the third day He will come and set us free, my Saint and my Savior. Amen. Amen. Amen.
Pogrom-Gedenkstein,  Burggarten, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

1298 Pogrom Memorial, on the north side of Chapel of St. Blaise (Blasiuskapelle)

Pogrom-Gedenkstein,  Burggarten, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Top of the memorial (death by fire), 1/4

Pogrom-Gedenkstein,  Burggarten, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

German translation of Hebrew inscription, 2/4

Pogrom-Gedenkstein,  Burggarten, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Replica of memorial stone; original in Reichsstadtmuseum (see 10. above), 3/4

Pogrom-Gedenkstein,  Burggarten, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Bottom of the memorial, 4/4


12. Ehemaliger jüdischer Betsaal (Former Jewish prayer hall, 3rd Synagogue)

In 1888, members of the Jewish community purchased the building at Herrngasse 21. The building found use by the community as a prayer room, school, teacher’s accommodations, and ritual bath (Mikwe, Mikveh), until the Nazis expelled the remaining Jews in 1938.

Ehem. jüdisches Betsaal, former prayer hall, 3rd Synagogue, Altstadt, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany, fotoeins.com

Herrngasse 21: former Jewish prayer hall, now Hotel Klosterstüble.


More:

With their corresponding “Baudenkmal” file numbers, many of the structures above are in the city’s listings of heritage and historical buildings compiled by Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege (Bavarian State Ministry for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage); see also Bayerische Denkmal-Atlas (Bavarian Monument Atlas).

•   City of Rothenburg ob der Tauber: English | German
•   Alemannia Judaica, in German
•   Evang.-Luth. Kirchengemeinde St. Jakob Rothenburg, in German
•   “Auf jüdischen Spuren im mittelalterlichen Rothenburg” (Judengemeinde Rothenburg), in German
•   Self-guided tour of Rothenburg ob der Tauber with 20 stops within the city’s Old Town, in English

[ℵ1] “Archiv des Historischen Vereins von Unterfranken und Aschaffenburg, Volume 12”, Historischer Verein von Unterfranken und Aschaffenburg, Würzburg, 1853. Digital copy on Google.

[ℵ2] “Regesten zur Geschichte der Juden im Fränkischen und Deutschen Reiche bis zum Jahre 1273.” Aronius, Julius; Dresdner, Albert; ed; Lewinski, Ludwig, ed; Historische Commission für Geschichte der Juden in Deutschland, 1902. Digital copy at Goethe Universität digital collections (Frankfurt am Main) and University of Michigan Book Collection.


Thanks to Rothenburg ob der Tauber Tourism Service for providing access to services and facilities, and thanks to Akzent Hotel Schranne for a warm welcome and a comfortable convenient stay. Except for the two photos at Judengasse 10 and 15-17, I made the photos above on 11 and 12 November 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7xI.

Berlin Grunewald: no train will ever leave track 17

Present in the vicinity of a train station are very distinct and familiar sounds: the racket of heavy locomotives chugging down the rail and the screech of high-friction braking. A breeze sweeps through two columns of trees, creating a low keening sound which escapes into the open space beyond. To stop and listen, the sounds could easily be human: faint shouts and cries. Are they tricks of the mind, or are the dead speaking? The spectre of cruelty, despair, and suffering clings to the abandoned track; seven decades in the past don’t seem very far.

On a cool grey late-autumn afternoon, I’m on an S-Bahn train heading towards Potsdam. Beyond the limits of the “Stadtbahn” and one stop beyond the “Ring” at Westkreuz, the train pulls into the former goods and freight station at Grunewald. Dropping into the underground passage, signage points to the memorial at track 17. I leave the station by the southeast exit, and turn left to ascend the ramp along the side street.

In the Berlin borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Grunewald station lies on the S7 S-Bahn line serving central Berlin city, the city of Potsdam to the southwest, and Ahrensfelde to the northeast in the Berlin borough of Marzahn-Hellersdorf. Grunewald station began operation in 1879 under its original name Hundekehle named after a nature reserve nearby. The station changed its name to “Grunewald” in 1884 when the old Grunewald station began its new life as “Halensee” station. Grunewald station and its tracks were incorporated into Berlin’s S-Bahn train network in 1928.

Many companies including the Deutsche Reichsbahn (German Imperial Rail) were actively complicit in the machinery of mass murder during Nazi rule. After reunification of East and West Germany in 1990, the two separate railways also merged to form Deutsche Bahn in 1994, and calls arose for the new company to acknowledge its dark past. To mark the Reichbahn’s collaboration in deporting people to camps and their deaths, present-day Deutsche Bahn AG established a memorial at track 17. Inaugurated in 1998 the memorial was designed and built by architects Hirsch, Lorch, and Wandel who were very mindful of the 1991 Karol Broniatowski memorial near the station’s entrance.

Along track 17, metal plates have been inserted, one for every transport train which took Berlin’s Jews to their deaths. Each plate includes the transport date, the number of people deported, and the transport’s destination. The first train of record departed Grunewald on 1941 October 18 when 1251 Jews were deported to Łódź. Another plate marks the last train of record (so far) leaving Grunewald on 1945 March 27 when 18 Jews were deported to Theresienstadt; blank plates leave room for additional commemorations with new uncovered information. More than 50-thousand Jews from Berlin were deported from this station alone. The first set of trains went to concentration-camps in eastern Europe, but by the end of 1942, trains were directed to Auschwitz and Theriesenstadt.

The vegetation that’s been left to grow around the track over the years is a visible symbol and an unspoken promise to all: that no train will leave track 17 ever again.


Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Grunewald station, underground passage to track 17

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Track 17: in commemoration to people who were deported to death camps on Deutsche Reichsbahn trains, 1941-1945. Erected by Deutsche Bahn AG.

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Southeast entrance with signage to the memorial. At top, the weather-vane is in the shape of a locomotive.

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Zum Gedenken an die mehr als 50.000 Juden Berlins, die zwischen Oktober 1941 und Februar 1945 vorwiegend vom Güterbahnhof Grunewald aus durch den nationalsozialistischen Staat in seine Vernichtungslager deportiert und ermordet wurden. Zur Mahnung an uns, jeder Missachtung des Lebens und der Würde des Menschen mutig und ohne Zögern entgegenzutreten. In memory of the more than 50-thousand Berlin Jews deported between October 1941 and February 1945, most of whom were sent from the Grunewald station by the Nazis to extermination camps and murdered. This is our warning: to maintain basic human dignity, to oppose all blatant disregard for life with courage and without hesitation. (by Karol Broniatowski, 1991)

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Memorial by Karol Broniatowski, 18 October 1991: bronze plaque (above) and concrete wall with hollowed out imprints of human bodies

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

A little further …

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

First sight of track 17

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Metal slabs surround both sides of track 17

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

1st metal plate: 1st recorded train on 1941 October 18: 1251 Jews deported from Berlin to Łódź

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Last” metal plate: train on record leaving 1945 March 27: 18 Jews deported from Berlin to Theresienstadt

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Unused buildings

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Far end of the memorial

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Germany and Israel. Near the former signal building, this bronze plaque in both Hebrew and German was unveiled on 3 April 1987.

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Hebrew inscription: memorial to the victims of extermination. German inscription: In memory of the tens of thousands of Jewish citizens of Berlin, who were deported by the Nazis between October 1941 and February 1945 from here to death camps and murdered. (“Zum Gedenken an zehntausende jüdische Bürger Berlins, die ab Oktober 1941 bis Februar 1945 von hier aus durch die Nazi-Henker in die Todeslager deportiert und ermordet wurden.”)

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

 

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

 

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

The track to nowhere

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

End of the line

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at track 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

 

Mahnmal Gleis 17, Berlin Grunewald, Gueterbahnhof Grunewald, Bahnhof Grunewald, Memorial at platform 17, Grunewald station, Grunewald, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

No train will leave this track ever again


More:

•   Deutsche Bahn, track 17 memorial: in English | auf Deutsch
•   Memorial Museums, in English
•   “In the field of stelae” (Holocaust memorial in central Berlin), in English
•   Memorial to Sinti and Roma Murdered by Nazis, in English
•   Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf borough, city-state of Berlin, in German
•   Berlin city portal, in German


S-Bahn station Grunewald is about 20 minutes from Berlin central station with the S-Bahn S7 train, direction (Richtung) Potsdam. Open to the elements and free of charge, the memorial is accessed either from the underground passage inside the station or from the street ramp outside; follow the signs for “Mahnmal Gleis 17” (Memorial at track 17).

I made the photos above on 7 December 2015. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-7vx.

Morning light on Krämerbrücke, Erfurt, Germany, fotoeins.com

Erfurt: 12 stations on a walk through the Old Town

Erfurter Stadtführung

Located along the Gera river near the centre of Germany, Erfurt is an historical hub of east-west trade, a stop on the historical road “Via Regia” dating back to the Middle Ages, and is considered a spiritual home for Martin Luther. He left behind plenty of traces throughout the city which is now the capital city for the German state of Thuringia (Landeshauptstadt Thüringens).

Each of the following locations in addition to the Erfurt’s Hauptbahnhof (Central Station) is indicated with an icon in the map below. All 12 stops can be reached with tram routes 3, 4, or 6 (common segment as solid back line), with stops at Anger, Fischmarkt/Rathaus (Fish Market/City Hall), and Domplatz Süd (Cathedral Square South). Click on the arrow-window symbol at the upper-left corner of the map below for additional clarification.

( Click here for images and more )

Alter Synagogenplatz, Altstadt, Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, fotoeins.com

My Heidelberg: Synagogue Square and Pogromnacht

It happens every time without fail.

My spirit breaks a little more every time I see a memorial, another example of the depths to which our species have plumbed.

Does feeling this way make me weak? Or am I resembling a human being after all?

I often hear a common chorus:

history is hard, history is boring, why should I care?

I can’t decide what’s worse: the rise of the far-right or blatant willful ignorance.


A Mob of Broken Glass

From the evening of 9 November to the following morning of 10 November 1938, Kristallnacht (“the night of broken glass”) was a “pogrom”, a coordinated series of violent attacks by Nazis against the Jewish people and their property in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslavakia’s Sudetenland. Pogromnacht (or Reichspogromnacht) is a truer description; the “prettier sounding” Kristallnacht hides the brutality of “the night of (broken) crystal” referring to broken shattered glass from windows to synagogues, homes, and stores owned by Jews. Aside from a few who intervened, most stood aside and watched people and property burn.

The numbers were appalling: at least 90 dead, hundreds injured, 30000 arrested and detained in concentration camps, up to 2000 synagogues burned, over 7000 Jewish businesses damaged or destroyed. With one more insult, the Jewish community was forced to pay for damage to their own property. The outbreak of coordinated actions against Jewish people marked the beginning of state-sanctioned violence. With the Pogromnacht, the state no longer hid their hate and escalated their savagery as a turning point directly leading to the Holocaust.

( Click here for more )

Berlin’s Oldest Jewish Cemetery (Spandauer Vorstadt)

“Der Jüdische Friedhof in der Grossen Hamburger Strasse”

In the past, I’ve often felt guilty for taking photographs at a cemetery, as if the act of opening and closing the camera’s shutter somehow “exposes and steals” the essence of people who are laid to rest. Only in the last few years have I overcome these feelings, as I now see cemeteries as beautiful places to visit and to witness frozen snapshots to individual lives over time. On this late-autumn afternoon, I stood in the middle of the garden, transported to a different place and a different time, surrounded by tranquility and living memories.

Große Hamburger Straße (or Greater Hamburg Street) was the key central road in what was once the Spandauer Vorstadt, which was the suburb or town at the foot of the former Berlin city gates. The road allowed for trade and movement from Berlin in the direction towards the nearby town of Spandau.

According to berlin.de, the area developed around the Hackesche Market and Courtyards:

Historically, development of the Höfe went hand in hand with the growth of Berlin as a thriving urban centre. The expansion started around 1700 from an outer suburb known as Spandauer Vorstadt, located outside the Spandau City gate which already had its own church, the Sophienkirche as early as 1712. Friedrich Wilhelm I built a new city wall here and the former suburb became a new urban district belonging to Berlin. Today’s Hackescher Markt takes its name from the market built here by a Spandau city officer, Count von Hacke.

The influx of Jewish migrants and the exiled French Huguenots gave the district the cosmopolitan diversity which it never lost. The first synagogue was built in this area and the first Jewish cemetery established on the Grosse Hamburger Strasse. Another name for the area, the Scheunenviertel (barn district) is associated today with up and coming art galleries and the more bohemian side of Berlin. The largest synagogue in Germany was built in nearby Oranienburger Strasse in 1866.

In use from 1672 to 1827, this is Berlin’s oldest cemetery for the Jewish community. Buried here is Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), philosopher, a founding father of the Jewish Enlightenment, and grandfather to the great composer Felix Mendelssohn. During the last stages of fighting in the Second World War, 2425 dead were buried here in 16 mass graves. With no clear boundaries separating those buried in the past from those buried during the war, the new memorial garden was constructed and restored in 2007-08 with all of the buried left undisturbed as they were.

The present location was also the site of the first nursing home in 1844 for the Jewish community in Berlin. The Gestapo transformed the home in 1942 to a collection and staging point for prisoners, and ordered the destruction of the entire site in 1943. 55000 Berlin Jews from infants to the elderly were deported and murdered in the concentration camps at Auschwitz and Theresienstadt.

I also wrote about the “Shalechet” (Fallen Leaves) sculpture installation at the Jewish Museum Berlin.


Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Moses Mendelssohn

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Moses Mendelssohn

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

In memory of the oldest Jewish cemetery in Berlin

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

In memory

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Wrongs to be righted

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com
Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Sophienkirche at right

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Graves on top of graves

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

“Jüdische Opfer des Faschismus” (Jewish victims of fascism), by Will Lammert

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Once a home to seniors, then a place for staging and deporting

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Front gate to Fernsehturm

Old Jewish Cemetery, Grosse Hamburger Strasse, Berlin, Germany, fotoeins.com

Nie wieder. Never again.


Directions

Visitors can reach the Old Jewish Cemetery with the MetroTram (M1, M4, M5) to Monbijouplatz; Strassenbahn 12 to Monbijouplatz; S-Bahn (S3, S5, S7, S9) to Hackescher Markt; S-Bahn (S1, S2, S25, S26) to Oranienburger Strasse; or the U-Bahn (U8) to Weinmeisterstrasse. After disembarking the train or tram at any of these stations, it’s a short walk to the cemetery which is located next to the Sophienkirche church.

In Berlin-Mitte at Spandauer Strasse 68 (at Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse) a memorial plaque marks the location of the house where Moses Mendelssohn and his family lived; see also articles in German Berliner Morgenpost (3 May 2015) and Süddeutsche Zeitung (16 June 2016).

I made the photos above on 21 November 2012. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-2MX.

%d bloggers like this: