Berlin – the Jewish Quarter (Scheunenviertel) and the Jewish Museum

You cannot go far in Germany without coming across aspects of Berlin’s long Jewish history. Whether it is the former Jewish Quarters – now trendy areas with shops and art galleries or museums about Jewish history or holocaust memorials. Certainly no-one here is trying to sweep anything under the carpet and I heard that Berlin has the fastest growing Jewish community in Europe.

Here are a few direct and indirect views of Jewish Berlin.

The Scheunenviertel (or barn quarter) was home to thousands of Jews and the area was neglected totally after WW2. Now it is a fashionable and trendy place which includes the Dorotheenstadtischer Cemetery which is a lovely peaceful place and the final resting place for many well known Berlin luminaries including Bertolt Brecht.

The Dorotheenstaddtischer Cemetery in the Scheunenviertel district

The Hackesche Hofe is an area of restored buildings including interconnecting courtyards (indeed courtyard are really lovely in this area so any time you see something that looks like access take a wander to check out what’s behind)

Courtyards near Hackesche Hofe with the Neue Synagogue in the background

The tiled courtyards in the Hackesche Hofe are really well done and restored to look like they did in former days. And of course there is always a line-up outside the currywurst shop. Curywurst – a bratwurst with bbq sauce and curry powder on top is a strange Berlin speciality and supposedly was developed when Berlin was split into four sectors after WW2 (British, American, French and Soviet). The addition of bbq sauce and curry powder was a kind of “thank you” the the Americans and the Brits who are very fond of these items respectively. Probably an apocryphal tale and good knows what the French made of this!??

Hackesche Hofe courtyards

The Neue Synagogue is spectacular on the outside. It dates to 1866 and was once the largest the Europe. As I think I mentioned before it survived Kristallnacht but was severely damaged during the WW2. As a result the interior is now a museum showing photos of how it once looked inside – sad loss,

Neues Synagogue

Germany’s Holocaust Memorial was just 5 minutes walk from my hotel so I hauled myself out of bed one Sunday morning and was there to walk around at 7.30 – just me at that time of day and it gave me a very different perspective. This was opened in 2005 and consists of 2711 concrete steels of various heights and dimensions slap bang in the middle of the City. It is controversial on many counts – the perceived lack of artistic creativity (many say it is boring); the sign which says that it commemorates murdered Jews but not which ones or why etc etc.

I found walking around on my own gave a very different feel to the space than when it is overrun with selfie sticks and picknickers – some people have no respect – and maybe that is the biggest indictment. By enabling people to wander all around it 24/7 it may be easy to forget why it was put there in the first place. Everyone has different views – here are mine – from a photographic perspective at least….

Holocaust Memorial – Denkmal

Holocaust Memorial – early on a Sunday morning

The Jewish museum is partly under restoration at the moment but it is an interesting half old and half very modern design. It deliberately has a lot of “voids” created in its design to represent the places where Jews are not

2 thoughts on “Berlin – the Jewish Quarter (Scheunenviertel) and the Jewish Museum

  1. Ursel Dougherty

    You were smart to walk the memorial so early in the morning. When I experienced Peter Eisenmann’s unique work to honor the Jewish victims of the Holocaust the first time I was very annoyed at first by the children running through it like through a maze and screaming. Then it occurred to me that may it is a form of life Eisenmann had invited in when he designed this structure.

    Liked by 1 person


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