We went to Herscher-Market which use to be the Jewish quarter before World War II. When we went there we got to tour an old Jewish cemetery which was destroyed by the Nazi. They dug up graves and destroyed tombstones in order to break the spirit of the Jewish people. It was an eye opening experience because it is hard to imagine that people can have that much hate for a race of people and to desecrate a cemetery is beyond explainable to me. When we walked through the cemetery the men were asked to cover their heads in respect, as a woman I covered my head because I felt like it was a sign of respect for the culture, the dead, and a sign of hope that there are people out there who respect other religions.
We also got the chance to tour Otto Weidt’s Factory which is located by the old cemetery. Weidt was German man who was blind and opened a forced labor camp for Jews and disabled people in order to prevent them from going to concentration camps. He risked his own life and reputation to try and save the lives of others. Weidt would bribe the Gestapo and hide Jews in attics - even though lives were lost he was able to save 10. It may not seem like much but Otto Weidt took on the Nazi regime by his heroic actions.
We also had the privilege to go inside the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building. The building is unique because it still contains the same foundation from the Reichstag of the 1930’s that are covered in Soviet graffiti once the occupied Berlin in !945. The building also has a dom on the top which gives you an impressive view of the city. Germany’s government is very cautious and take extreme measures to make sure that the politics are fair all because of the World War I and II.
Another interesting trip we made was to Hohenschönhausen - Political Prison of the GDR. After World War II East Berlin was ran by the Soviets which lived in a period of paranoia and fear. Anybody who spoke out against the government would be kidnapped and brought to Schönhausen where they were questioned and tortured. It was a period of spies - a husband spying on his wife; wife spying on her neighbors; neighbor spying on his boss, etc. A life that nobody dreamed of living in …
One of the most difficult excursions we had to go on was the one to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. This started off as a camp for political prisoners holding up to 10,000 but by 1945 it had tripled in size to a death camp. The camp was on the outskirts of a town called Oranienburg, the citizens of this town could see the stack house and the guards armed with machine guns. This camp was also famous for the counterfeiting operation. Towards the end of World War II 10,000 Soviet soldiers were executed and then burned in the crematorium where other prisoners lost their life as well. It was an eye-opening experience that touched the very fabric of my soul.