Today I visited Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, which is now a museum and popular tourist site. As most of you know, this is where the American and Soviet sectors met in a divided Berlin and where Soviet and American tanks faced each other down as the Wall was built.
Today I visited Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, which is now a museum and popular tourist site. As most of you know, this is where the American and Soviet sectors met in a divided Berlin and where Soviet and American tanks faced each other down as the Wall was built. I passed through the original site in May, 1990 with my brother and our wives. It is now a completely different locale, complete with a Subway sandwich shop!
However, the second site I visited was even more interesting. It was the Jewish Museum in Berlin. There is something significant in seeing this site in this locale. The museum covers the entire up and down history of the Jews in Germany. It does an excellent job of tracing the roots and growth of anti-Semitism in the 19th and 20th Centuries. It also traces the rich contribution many German Jews made to European culture, although not always for the best. Baruch Spinoza starts off the list of names you might know, as well as Moses Mendelsohn and Martin Buber. Quotes about the situation in Germany comes from people as wide ranging as Ernst Troelsch, better known as the man who defined historical criticism for the 20th century, and Albert Einstein. The museum also keeps an eye on the roots of Zionism, which also had a strong start here as Jews longed for a place where they would not be persecuted.
Jewish Museum Display for years 1935-37, when persecution was stepped up. The sign reads, "Jews will not be served here."
I have been to many sites in Berlin in the past and have been to many Jewish museums as well. This one is one of the best and you will rarely hear about it. The Holocaust is not overdone, but neither is it shied away from. Most effective are the numerous individual stories told of Jews who were later murdered in one of the German camps, those who just missed escaping because of emigration or immigration difficulties, along with some who did leave and had beneficial lives. I highly recommend this museum if you get to Berlin, along with the Pergamum Museum, which no one who is interested in the Bible or Greco-Roman culture should miss. (Also check out the Sony Center in Potsdamerplatz, a fun place to sit and have a meal).