During our visit to the Jewish Museum in Berlin we weren’t only interested in the architecture but spent some time looking around the permanent exhibition located on the top two floors of the building. It didn’t just concentrate on the Holocaust, portraying the Jews simply as victims, which is the case with the Holocaust Memorial. It showed how they became part of European and German society and how they became integrated to a large extent in Germany.
Although I had a reasonable understanding of the history, I learned more about why the Jews were well positioned to the advantage of the development of Capitalism because of the role they had played as itinerant traders and in finance, roles that "native" Germans were less likely to play. There were displays about certain individuals who played a key role in German life, culture and society such as the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, the poet Heinrich Heine, industrialist, politician, writer, and statesman Walther Rathenau, who served as Foreign Minister of Germany during the Weimar Republic and the Socialists Karl Marx and Ferdinand Lassalle.
There were displays about Jewish life in the Middle Ages and the 19th and 20th Centuries.
And given what happened in the 1930’s and 40’s it was ironic to see these gravestones of Jews who dies for the “Fatherland” during the First World War
The sections on the holocaust were moving, and also informative, but are covered in more depth at the Holocaust Memorial.
The most disturbing and moving part for me was seeing the roll of yellow cloth printed with the stars – and the revelation that the Jews were charged 10 pfennings for the privilege of buying one to wear.