My mother was from Berlin and growing up I knew her parents died during the holocaust but she never talked about it, and amazingly enough, I didn't push harder to uncover the truth. After my mother died I started investigating and discovered that her parents had died in 1943 in Auschwitz. I don’t know if it was to spare my sister and I the burden of that knowledge, or it was too painful for her, but she didn't discuss the details of their death. During my travels in Germany I had seen Stolpersteine, created by artist Gunter Demnig; “stumbling blocks” placed at the location where people who were killed by the Nazis used to live. The concept is to remember those that passed, and to remind people what can happen when hatred goes unbridled. I started the process of having Stolpersteine laid for my grandparents, Anna and Moshe Koller, in 2017 and they were finally installed on September 9th this year. John, being supportive as always, wanted me to go with my sister and Zoë, as we are their direct descendants.
We met in Berlin and had a few days to enjoy the city before the stone laying ceremony. From my earlier visits to Berlin I had fond memories of the graffiti, so we took a walking tour of the street art scene in addition to exploring on our own. Here are a few examples.
Much of the city was destroyed during the war, but there is abundant historic architecture.
I loved this image of the old and the new together.
And there were plenty of new buildings.
There's postwar WWII history to be explored, like Checkpoint Charlie and the negotiations for bringing down the Berlin Wall.
And the East Side Gallery memorial which is a permanent open-air gallery on the longest surviving section of the Berlin Wall.
The Holocaust Memorial in memory of the Jews murdered by the Nazis, and the Empty Library, a memorial dedicated to the remembrance of the Nazi book burnings, were both very powerful.
The ceremony for the laying of the stones took place at 5 Calvinstrasse, where my grandparents had their store on the ground floor and their home above. We took some videos at the event which I plan to edit together, but here are a few photos.
Walking around the city many things caught my eye to photograph.
Berlin is a great city and this was a wonderful opportunity for the three of us “girls” to spend time together, explore our family heritage, and enjoy Berlin.