Learn, understand and reflect - the Jewish Museum Berlin tells the history of Jews in Germany. When you visit, you find yourself inside an artwork. The whole edifice (inside and out) reflects the museum's subject matter. Architect Daniel Libeskind's building unfurls in zigzagging corridors like a lightening flash, or for some, a broken Star of David. Empty spaces, known as 'voids', appear throughout the building. These voids are not accessible until you reach the Memory Void. They remind visitors of the voids that the Holocaust has left behind.
The Museum, an artwork in itself
The museum's exceptional character strikes you before you even enter. The building's zigzag shapes and sharp angles are disguised in titanium and zinc. Enter via Kollegienhaus, which dates back to the 18th century. This entrance takes you to the ground floor of the Libeskind Building. Here you choose between three divergent axes, corridors symbolic of Jewish life in Germany: exile, Holocaust and continuity. Take the axis of exile to the Garden of Exile. Concrete towers and uneven ground establish a feeling of uncertainty. Olive bushes are present, signifying reassurance in times of need. The Holocaust axis leads to a dark tower. A bare concrete shaft with a narrow slit of light serving as a symbol for hopelessness and abandonment. Finally, follow the axis of continuity to the permanent exhibition on the second floor. It tells the story of life in Germany and Jewish traditions. Innovative installations lead you through the history of Judaism from late Antiquity to the present day. Take the example of the Gallery of the Missing. Black glass sculptures with headphones let you hear about destroyed Jewish property. Look out for the displays of old family photos and letters. The film 'Faces' gives you an insight into modern Jewish life. The Jewish Museum Berlin also caters for children in the Rafael Roth Learning Center, which was purpose-built for them. Here you can discover interactive games and films. For example, Sansanvis Park is a computer game that teaches children about Jewish customs and rituals.
Special exhibits at the Jewish Museum Berlin
Shalechet (fallen leaves): thousands of iron faces litter the ground of one of the voids
A handwritten draft of the Theory of Relativity by Albert Einstein
Arnold Dreyblatt exhibition of extracts from letters and deportation diaries
Witness interviews in the Rafael Roth Learning Centre
Black glass sculptures in the Gallery of the Missing
More memorials for National Socialism in Berlin
Berlin is home to several sites commemorating the Holocaust and the history of National Socialism. These include the documentation centre, Topography of Terror, lying on land that once housed the headquarters of the SS. It deals with their reign of terror between 1933 and 1945. About a kilometre north is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Here, a labyrinth of variously sized concrete squares rise from an undulating concrete sea. The House of the Wannsee Conference is another important memorial site, being the planning location for the genocide of European Jews by the Nazis. Among other things, it holds a media library of documents recording Jewish deportation to Eastern Europe. The T4 Information Centre commemorates the murders of 70,000 disabled people as part of the Nazi's 'euthanasia' programme. The office of the perpetrators, at Tiergartenstraße 4, is marked with a memorial and information on the victims. Only a few metres away on Stauffenbergstraße, you find the Bendlerblock, now the second seat of the Ministry of Defence. Here, a memorial dedicated to the German Resistance is located within a commemorative courtyard for the Stauffenberg resistance.
How to get here
The easiest way to get to the Jewish Museum Berlin is by U-Bahn. Take the underground line U6 to Kochstraße, which is about ten minutes away by foot. The buses M29, M41 and 248 also all stop close to the museum. With a Berlin WelcomeCard you can enjoy a 25% discount on the price of admission. Purchasing a Berlin Museum Pass lets you visit the museum for free on three consecutive days. Children up to age six enter for free. You will also find 'hosts' wearing red scarves at the door and throughout the museum, who are happy to answer your questions. There are regular public guided tours of the Jewish Museum, for which it is necessary to register in advance. School classes and groups can book guided tours on a particular topic or theme. There are also special children's workshops.