Spend a morning on a walking tour through Mitte, Berlin’s most central district, to see sites significant to the history of Jewish people in Germany. You’ll start at Hausvogteiplatz, the former location of Berlin’s fashion industry, which was run largely by Jewish designers.
You’ll get to see the Hackescher Markt, where a shop owner protected his Jewish employees by bribing the Gestapo, and you’ll visit Bebenplatz, where the Nazis held a book burning. You’ll walk along Rosenstrasse, where non-Jewish wives and family members successfully protested the arrests and deportation of Jewish men, and you’ll end at the Berlin New Synagogue.
Your guide will also take you through Museum Island and tell you about James Simon, a German Jewish art collector who donated most of his priceless art collection to Berlin’s state museums. As you walk, you’ll see the Barn Quarter, formerly home to a large Jewish community.
This half-day Jewish heritage walking tour begins at your hotel, where you’ll meet your private guide and head to Hausvogteiplatz. This square was once renowned for its booming textile and fashion industry, which was largely run by Jewish designers and merchants. In the square you’ll find three tall mirrors, arranged in a circle. This monument, reflecting the sky to all who see it, is a memorial dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
You’ll then head to Bebelplatz, the site of a Nazi book burning in 1933. Around 20,000 books written about ideologies opposed to Nazism, written by Jewish authors, or considered subversive were torched in an act of censorship. As you make your way through the square, look down to The Empty Library. This art installation was designed by an Israeli sculptor and is set deep into the cobblestones. The subterranean memorial features empty bookshelves with enough room to house 20,000 books.
On your way to your next destination, you’ll pass through Museum Island. Your guide will tell you all about James Simon, a German-Jewish art collector and philanthropist who donated most of his priceless art collection to Berlin’s state museums.
You’ll then stop at Rosenstrasse, the site of a 1943 protest against Nazis. Non-Jewish wives and relatives of Jewish men who had been arrested and targeted for deportation initiated the protests, which continued until the men were released. It was the only mass public demonstration by Germans during the Nazi-era against deportation of Jews.
Next, you’ll head past the Barn Quarter, which was formerly the main Jewish quarter of Berlin, as you make your way to Hackescher Markt. There, you’ll visit Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind, which was established in 1936 as a place to employ blind and deaf Jews. Workers produced brooms and brushes that were classified as important to the war effort. He protected his Jewish employees by bribing the Gestapo.
Before heading to the Berlin New Synagogue, the final stop on the tour, you’ll pause for a tasting at a local Jewish bakery in the Hackescher Markt. The Berlin New Synagogue, with its grand Moorish façade, was one of the few synagogues to survive Kristallnacht, though it was heavily damaged during the war. It was demolished and rebuilt. Now, it houses Centrum Judaicum, an institution for the preservation of Jewish memory and tradition.