Berlin is emblematic of a transformed Germany. Here the dramas of a country seeking freedom from a second form of totalitarianism were played out. Here, the Berlin Wall was erected. Here, in November 1989, the Wall fell. Today, Berlin is home to Germany’s largest Jewish community. The Central Council of Jews in Germany is located at Leo-Baeck-Haus.
Opened in 2005, the Holocaust Memorial and the underground Information Center provide stark exhibits and details on The Holocaust. The Jewish Museum Berlin houses a permanent exhibition devoted to two millennia of German Jewish history, arranged in 14 sections.
The New Synagogue is a vast, Moorish-influenced jewel which opened in 1866 and, until Kristallnacht, considered Germany’s grandest synagogue. Today, it serves as a synagogue, a memorial, a museum and offices of the Berlin Jewish Community. Nearby, the Jewish Gallery Berlin was founded in order to familiarize both emigrant and immigrant Jewish artists with their new home country.
Berlin’s first Jewish girls’ school opened in 1835. The Ehemalige Jüdische Mädchenschule is now a multi-purpose building combining an exhibit on the history of the school, art galleries, the Pauly Saal restaurant and more. Not far from the school is Hackesche Höfe, whose Art Nouveau buildings once housed a variety of Jewish institutions and homes.
The Topography of Terror Foundation, one of the most chilling museums in Germany, exhibits detailed facets of the official reign of terror instituted against Jews and others.
In western Berlin is the Spandau Citadel Museum, a 12th-century fortress. In the 1960s archeologists discovered some 70 14th-century Jewish tombstones.
The House of the Wannsee Conference, where the “Final Solution” was devised, is today a memorial and an educational center.
Weissensee Cemetery is Europe’s largest Jewish cemetery.
The Berlin Jewish Community Center at Fasanenstrasse is home to permanent and temporary exhibits; the elegant kosher restaurant Arche Noah; a theater, lecture and exhibit hall; and a 60,000-volume library.