Wabash Blogs German in Berlin

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"Yeah, but can you say Antidisestablishmentarianism?"

Michael Opieczonek- We began our day with a pleasurable morning: our “Treffen” was scheduled at 9:30, so we could sleep in until 9:00 a clock! After enjoying extra minutes of sleep we headed to the “Bäckerei,” a German Bakery, where we eat breakfast every day. Next we went to our U-bahn station, Eberswalderstrasse, to meet Professors Byrnes and Tucker. At Hackescher Markt we met with Professor Wipperman, an expert on history of Germany during WWII and not only. This man was our Berlin guide and poured to our Wabash minds a lot of interesting information about the Nazi times and Holocaust. Professor Wippermann is a sage and a prolific writer; wherever we went or stopped he could comment: “Oh, I wrote a book about this place.”  Today’s program was the Jewish Berlin. At first Professor Wippermann led us to a small Jewish cemetery. One could not tell that it was one – green park, dogs running on the grass; however, at that place is buried a very eminent Jew, Moses Mendelssohn. Professor Wippermann told us about his role of assimilating German Jews into German culture and his philosophical and literary genius. We also learned about the Jewish Emancipation Act and the Jadish language. After being introduced to history of Jews in Germany we headed to a famous street called Rosenstrasse. One might think that this is not a special place, a simple memorial with a few statute figures. On the contrary this is a memorial of German resistance against the Nazis. There used to be a building belonging to a Jewish community, but in 1935 Nazis turned Rosenstrasse to a collective point of people of Jewish ancestry. NSDP arrested many Jews and gathered them in that place. Relatives of these arrested Jews gathered in front of the Gestapo quarter on Rosenstrasse and protested against arresting their husbands and other relatives. Fortunately, the act of resistance of these several hundreds of protestors made Nazis release the inmates. Professor Wippermann called this act “a symbol of altruism.”

Afterward we took a tram to visit the largest Jewish cemetery in Berlin. Professor Wippermann toured us through this vast graveyard, in which we could see plenty of mausoleums, tombstones and graves. The whole cemetery looked like a green suburban jungle, which was a good hiding place for Jews during the Nazi reign.  The cemetery is divided into fields. For example in the honorary field renowned people like doctors, professors, lawyers were buried. Professor Wippermann drew our attention to the field of urns. Jews cannot be cremated, but those urns contain ashes of the holocaust victims from concentration camps. In another place of the cemetery, we looked at a tombstone dedicated to Herbert Baum and his collaborators. They created a communist group and fought against Nazis. This group should be acknowledged as a Jewish resistance group, as Professor Wipperamann told us. Another interesting place was a mausoleum of a Jew, and whose ceiling was a good hiding place. This cemetery was a perfect place for Jews to hide at night, because Germans were superstitious to patrol it at that time. At the end of the visit we thanked Professor Wippermann for touring us around Berlin and gave him a Wabash cap and a sweatshirt. This immersion has been great so far, so remember Wally use all opportunities to go abroad.