Presented by Professor Ralph Stern
Many accounts of National Socialist persecution rely on abstract generalities of place (‘Germany’, ‘Hungary’, ‘Poland’ or ‘Warsaw’, ‘Vienna’, ‘Berlin’) when conveying highly specific and personal stories of resistance, resilience, and deportation. In contrast, this talk focuses on very specific places; their urban and architectural histories and transformations together with the often-jarring juxtapositions in which Jewish homes and institutions found themselves as the National Socialist bureaucracy embedded itself in the physical and social fabric of metropolitan Berlin.
One of the title’s ‘two streets’ is in central Berlin’s postwar ‘east’; a short walk from what was Gestapo Headquarters as well as what became Checkpoint Charlie and, now, the new Jewish Museum. The other street is in the former ‘west’, existing today as it was built in the first years of the last century just off the Kurfürstendamm lined with Berlin’s famed cafes and cinemas. The Synagogue under discussion miraculously survived the 1938 November Pogrom largely intact, only to be repurposed as a deportation center for tens of thousands of Berliners sent to the ‘east’.
For those already familiar with Berlin, the talk will expand their knowledge of the city; for those unfamiliar with Berlin, it will serve as an introduction to historical complexity of the city. Utilizing an abundance of historical and contemporary imagery, the purpose of this approach is to provide a finely grained and richly visual understanding of the places of daily existence of those whose lives would be, at best, radically disrupted and, at worst, brutally ended.
Sponsor: Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada, Azrieli Foundation