October 30, 2011 4 Comments
This afternoon, I took a not-so-brief tour of Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind. During the Second World War, Weidt used his brush- and broom-making workshop to rescue Jews who would otherwise be sent to concentration camps — and mostly deaf and blind Jews, who would have faced tough odds if deported. Weidt persuaded the authorities that their work was essential to the war effort, and when that failed, he bribed the authorities. His workshop, in the old Jewish quarter in Mitte, is now a museum.
I won’t go into too much detail on the workshop itself, but thought I’d share a couple of photos that shed slivers of light on the city’s Jewish history.
One of the most prominent monuments to Jews who died in the Holocaust comes in cobblestone-sized form, scattered throughout the city. Here’s an example of the Stolpersteine, or “stumbling stones,” from a sidewalk in Mitte:
These small brass plates are found in front of the buildings where Berlin’s Jews lived before they were deported. Here, for example, we find Stolpersteine to commemorate the Kozower family, ranging in age from one to 49. They were deported in 1943 to Theresienstadt, and from there to Auschwitz, where they died. The idea of the stones is that unlike centralized memorials, which can be visited once and then forgotten, they are repeatedly stumbled over by residents and visitors, a constant reminder of the Holocaust’s victims.