After an all night flight from the states, we began our day by meeting our German guide Olaf at the airport and immediately began learning about the wonderful city of Berlin. As we drove to the hotel, Olaf explained some of the history of the city of Berlin, including the East-West division post World War II until the fall of the Berlin Wall. Once at our hotel, we met up with the group from Bishop O’Dowd in Oakland, CA. Shalmi Barmore, our historian for the entire Holocaust Study Tour greeted us and we were on our way to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. While there, Shalmi discussed the meaning of this modern memorial in the “center of the center of Berlin”. In contrast to traditional memorials this modern memorial is purposefully ambiguous; we are not told what it is- we are free to judge and walk inside and experience it. After having time to interact with this outdoor exhibit students had the following reactions: Sammy Bell – The memorial symbolizes that Jews during the Holocaust did not know what to expect: around the corner you meet the unexpected like when someone ran by me inside the memorial and it startled me.
Greg Winkler – You felt more trapped as you descended into the memorial, it was harder and harder to get out.
After experiencing the central memorial, we walked across the street to the memorial in the park dedicated to the homosexual victims during the Holocaust. One of the issues discussed here was that the memorial itself seems to be hiding. This exhibit broaches the ongoing modern discrimination of the gay community worldwide.