AACI’s Kosher and Friendly Berlin Jewish Heritage Tour
12 July 2020 - 16 July 2020
Sample itinerary to be confirmed.
Spend four days in Berlin exploring its Jewish past, present and future. Learn about the centuries-long Jewish presence, and its outstanding contribution to German culture. Mourn lost communities and stand witness to the atrocities of World War II and the Holocaust. Observe the current Jewish renaissance taking place in the city today.
Additionally, Berlin is also a cultural capital whose vibrancy cannot be ignored. We will explore its recent Cold War past, seen through famous memorials and stories, visit famous plazas and markets, and lastly have a guided tour of the world famous Pergamum Museum.
Day 1 Meet the group for our flight from Israel to Berlin.
We immediately start our special trip with a combination walking and bus tour through the main sites of Berlin.
We start at the Victory Column, built to commemorate the Prussian victory in the Danish-Prussian war. On to see the Reichstag building from the outside, which was constructed to house the Imperial Diet of the German Empire. It was opened in 1894 and housed the Diet until 1933, when it was severely damaged after being set on fire. After World War II, the building fell into disuse. A full restoration was made after German the reunification on 3 October 1990, and, after its completion in 1999, it once again became the meeting place of the German parliament.
We continue to the The Soviet War Memorial, one of several war memorials in Berlin, erected by the Soviet Union to commemorate its war dead, particularly the 80,000 soldiers of the Soviet Armed Forces who died during the Battle of Berlin in April and May 1945.
Our next stop is the Holocaust Memorial. Located in Mitte on a stretch of the former “death strip” where the Berlin Wall once stood, near Brandenburg Gate, the memorial is Berlin’s monument to the Holocaust.
After some time at the memorial, we have a guided visit to the underground Information Center, which complements the abstraction of the memorial with personal documentation about individuals and families.
We continue to contemplate the role that Berlin had in the decimation of European Jewry, and make our way to Wilhelmstreet and visit the spot where the bunker of Hitler once stood. On to Pariser Platz, named after the French capital Paris in honor of the anti-Napoleon Allies’ occupation of Paris in 1814, which is home to one of the main focal points of the city, the famous Brandenburger Gate. Continue to Unter den Linden, once the grandest street in Berlin. From there is a quick walk to the Memorial to the Burning of the Books, a moving piece created by an Israeli artist, which consists of a subterranean “library.”
As we continue our walk through Germany’s main tourist district and squares, including Gendarmen Markt, we pass another memorial, this time for the once blooming Jewish textile industry of Berlin. We see that past and present are really intertwined as we view the building which once housed the former Bank of theThird Reich.
Our tour turns back towards modern day Berlin, as we pass Friedrichstrasse, a main retail street, Museum Island, an extraordinary ensemble of five world-renowned museums on an island in River Spree. One of these museums is the Pergamum, which we will have the opportunity to visit on a different day. The tour continues to Alexanderplatz, a large public square considered to be the heart of Berlin.
We will leave the present to revisit the past, and arrive at the East Side Gallery. Painted by 118 artists from 21 different countries, the open air gallery comments on the political events that took place in 1989 and 1990. Check Point Charlie, arguably the most famous symbol of Berlin during the cold war, is our next stop. Our tour ends at Potsdamer Platz, a lively commercial center including the Sony Center, an impressive futuristic building which holds Europe’s Sony headquarters.
After a packed but enlightening day, we arrive at the hotel for check in, and make our way to dinner.
Day 2 Today we will concentrate mainly on the Jewish history of Berlin, and the Holocaust. Our morning begins at the Rosenstrasse Memorial, which marks the spot of a nonviolent protest which took place during February and March 1943, carried out by the non-Jewish wives and relatives of Jewish men who had been arrested for deportation. The protests escalated until the men were released. It was a significant instance of opposition to the events of the Holocaust. Continue to Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind which tells the story of a workshop which employed mainly blind and deaf Jews during World War II, and through this saved their lives.
We learn even more about Berlin’s Jewish past at the Grossen Hamburgerstrasse, the oldest Jewish Cemetery which was in use between 1672 and 1827. During the war The Nazis destroyed the graves and turned the entire grounds into air-raid shelters. After the war, a memorial to Moses Mendelssohn, who was buried there, was erected.
Very close to the cemetery is the Boys School of the Jewish Community, founded in 1826. The Nazis used the building as a deportation center for Berlin Jews between 1942 and 1945. Following extensive renovation, the school was returned to its former use in 1993, and now houses the Jewish High School. What began with 27 students has increased ten-fold.
Another moving memorial is the Missing House. This apartment house in central Berlin was destroyed by aerial bombardment in February, 1945. In 1990, French artist Christian Boltanski and his students did research on the site, found that all the former residents were Jews, and constructed a memorial space dedicated to “absence.” Next to a playground nearby is ‘The Abandoned Room’, a sculpture created in 1996 – simply a table and two chairs, one upturned as if its occupant had left in great haste, all on a mock parquet floor; the Holocaust reduced to a small human scale.
We continue to the New Synagogue. Along with the Jewish Museum and the Holocaust memorial, this reform-style synagogue is one of Berlin’s most significant Jewish landmarks. Built in 1866, it sat 3200 people as the largest Jewish place of worship in Germany, and was literally a symbol of the thriving Jewish community. With 160,000 Jewish citizens in 1933, Berlin was the center of Liberal Judaism. We continue to the building of the Addas Yisroel Congregation, a once thriving symbol of Berlin’s Orthodox community. Continue to the old Jewish girls school, the old Jewish hospital, Prenzlauer Berg and a visit to the Rykestrasse synagogue and then the “Kindertransport Memorial” in the Friedrichstrasse.
This evening we will enjoy a boat ride on the river Spree, then continue to dinner.
Day 3 Morning visit to the Pergamon museum. The impressive reconstructions of massive archaeological structures – the Pergamon Altar, Market Gate of Miletus, the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way from Babylon, and the Mshatta Facade – have made the Pergamon museum famous throughout the world, with the result that it is the most visited museum in Berlin and in Germany as a whole.
Continue to Potsdam, the city neighboring Berlin. We start our visit at the Levetzowstrasse Deportation Memorial. The memorial to the deportations was set up in 1988 on the location of a former synagogue on the initiative of the Berlin Senate. Continue our day with a stop at The Grunewald S-Bahn station. Between autumn 1941 and spring 1942, deportation trains carrying Berlin Jews to ghettos and extermination camps in the east departed from this train station. The creation of the memorial was initiated by the Deutsche Bahn, the German national railway company, to commemorate the deportations undertaken by its predecessor, the Deutsche Reichsbahn.
The history of World War II is not complete without a visit to the exhibition in the House of the Wannsee Conference, the lakeside villa where Nazis planned the annihilation of European Jewry, now a memorial museum. Drive past the Glienicke Bridge, one of the most renowned monuments of the Cold War up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Until the political change in 1989, Glienicke Bridge was a point of exchange for secret agents of both political systems who had been taken prisoner.
Next stop is a visit to the exhibition in the Cecilien Hof about the Potsdamer conference, which is famous for having been the location of the Potsdam Conference in 1945, in which the leaders of the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States took important decisions affecting the shape of post-World War II Europe and Asia.
Our day finishes at the Sanssouci Palace, the former summer palace of Frederick the Great, King of Prussia. It is often counted among the German rivals of Versailles. While Sanssouci is in the more intimate Rococo style and is far smaller than its French Baroque counterpart, it too is notable for the numerous temples and follies in the park.
Drive back to Berlin for dinner.
Day 4 Begin the morning with a visit to Berlin’s second Jewish cemetery, Schönhauser Allee Cemetery, which opened in 1827. The cemetery hosts many well-known dearly departed, such as the artist Max Liebermann and the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. This is a vivid history book of Jewish life and of Berlin culture, illustrated by the fine and priceless tombs erected there.
Continue the day with a visit to the world famous Jewish Museum. The Jewish Museum in Berlin was opened in 2001. The path from the idea to found a Jewish museum in West Berlin to creating an exhibition concept was a long and winding one with many controversies along the way, which reflect the change in the perception of Jewish history against the backdrop of the Holocaust. The permanent historical exhibition leads you on a journey of discovery through two millennia of German Jewish history. The exhibition is regularly updated, and contains numerous interactive elements and media stations.
As our trip winds down to a close, we make a stop at the Topography of Terror Exhibit, an outdoor and indoor history museum located on the site of buildings formerly housing the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the principal instruments of repression during the Nazi era. Three permanent exhibitions are open to the public, all which tell the story of the brutality of the Nazi regime.
Continue to the Memorial of the Jews of the Bavarian quarter. This decentralized memorial comprises 80 two-sided plaques on 80 lampposts throughout the neighborhood. The stark contrast between an innocent-looking everyday item on one side, and the official Nazi statute succeed in surprising even the casual passer-by. We will then see the exhibition ”We were Neighbors” at the Schöneberg City Hall which is inspired by a remembrance project on Jewish eyewitness memories launched more than 30 years ago. Our tour ends with the “Mirrored Wall” located on Hermann-Ehlers-Platz in Berlin’s Steglitz district which is a memorial wall encased in mirrors. It serves as a reminder of the synagogue which was once located in the courtyard.
After dinner continue to the airport for our flight home.
Flight information: To be announced
Price: AACI members ______ Euro per person in a double room
Non – members ______ Euro per person in a double room
Single supplement _____ Euro
* Airfare credit available. Please ask about our land only packages.
ELALUP flights to and from Berlin;
4 star hotel
Meals: Full board, breakfast and dinner daily , Lunch boxes daily
Transportation in air-conditioned coach as per itinerary;
Local guides for the excursions and visits as per program including entrance fees;
Porterage of one bag per person at hotel;
AACI staff escort
Visa fee where relevant;
Any item of a personal nature;
Any other items not mentioned in ‘Price Includes’
Prices are subject to change due to fuel or tax increases. The itinerary may vary.