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Berlin_Weibensee Jewish Cemetery

Flirck. Photographs by Rosario Gómez
We, a group of visitors, most of the Tarbut Association of Lleida (Spain) for the defense of Hebrew thought, we came to visit this unique cemetery in the fall, on a rainy day and it really was an unforgettable experience to walk among such lush vegetation . Hundreds of green shades tinged by the rain water, brought to the mysterious atmosphere a great brightness and a great contrast with the black of the tombs. It is an ideal place to learn to identify Jewish surnames and become aware of the Jewish origin of some relevant historical or current events. "Cohen, Liebermann, Hitchcock, Abramovitch, Loewe, Marx .."

The Jewish cemetery of Weißensee. It is protacted by UNESCO, noted for its romantic beauty, with tombs placed among lush vegetation. Nothing else to pass through the fence, while the visitor puts on his head, as a sign of respect, the Jewish Kippa that is lent to the entrance, is the following inscription: "Here you are standing in silence, but when you come back, do not shut up." It is an appeal not to stand idly by in the face of racial hatred or discrimination, so that no more holocausts will occur again.

The East German writer Heinz Knobloch warned us in 1970 that "This cemetery should not go in cloudy weather. It should not be twilight or have any rain. The sun must radiate. The best thing is to go in early summer, when you can taste in your own body how warm and luminous it can be after a rainy winter and spring. " "The sun does not shine in that cemetery. It is hidden by the treetops and the thousands of young trunks and suckers that grow from the decomposed graves, wild among the torn and shattered gravestones, usured by the ivy. " Some visitors affirm that it is true that when the summer sun filters through the leaves of the trees a unique atmosphere is created that sepia ink the air that surrounds the aged tombs.

HISTORY

Berlin Jüdischer Friedhof Weißensee is the Jewish Cemetery located in Berlin in the Weißensee district. It is the second largest Jewish cemetery in Europe, covers approximately 42 hectares and contains approximately 115.000 graves. It was designed by the renowned German architect Hugo Licht in the Italian style of Neorrenacimiento and was inaugurated according to some sources in 1827, but the date of 1880 is mentioned more secure, when thousands of Jews emigrated from other areas of Europe fleeing from the anti-Semitic violence . Faced with this avalanche, the Jewish community of Berlin managed to transfer these lands to create a new cemetery that could cover their growing needs for mortuary.

It was built outside the limits of Berlin, when it was small that of the Große Hamburger Straße. Saturated in 1880, there were still burials for family members buried there. It was the case of the musical composer Giacomo Meyerbeer, the publisher Leopold Ullstein and the painter Max Liebermann. The burial of this one took place in 1935, when the Nazis already had profonado the place.

With the rise of Nazism the majority of Jewish cemeteries in Europe were destroyed, but miraculously this place survived, although it is estimated that 400 graves could have been destroyed by the Allied bombing.

During the Great War, the cemetery was neglected and many of the tombs were neglected because most Jews were killed or fled from the Holocaust, filled with weeds. In 1942 the Third Reich convened the so-called "action of metals" with which it aimed to revive its arms industry and face the difficulties of supplying raw materials. The taverns offered the metal pipes of their beer taps, the housewives brought their copper pots and the churches sacrificed the bells, but in the Jewish cemetery nobody asked permission. The ornamental chains and the commemorative plaques of iron and bronze were torn from the tombs by force.

After World War II, Jews from all parts of Berlin continued to use the cemetery until 1955; from 1955 until reunification, only the small Jewish community of East Berlin used it.

In the 70 years it was intended to build a highway and destroy the cemetery, but it was maintained thanks to the great resistance of the Jewish community.

On some of the tombs there are small stones of all kinds, it seems that for the Jews the stone retains part of the spirit of the one who held it in his hand and prayed with it. Thus, by leaving the stone on the grave, the deceased is accompanied and our presence is recorded through the pebble.

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