On the bus ride to a modern memorial in the Bavarian Quarter of Berlin, Shalmi lectured about the background of Nazi Ideology. He explained that it is based on science of the 19th century, when scientists like the German Humboldt brothers and Charles Darwin began asking the question, “How (empirically) do things happen in the world?” Their theories about species and the survival of the fittest were the impetus for later sociologists and scientists to link their theories to racist theories. When all of these ideas mix together, and the Nazis apply them to the Jews, then they label Jews as racially inferior.
Shalmi Barmore gives insight to the students at the Bavarian Quarter Memorial. Once at the Bavarian Quarter, a neighborhood of Berlin where Jews once lived, we viewed a modern memorial which consists of signs with pictures on one side and anti-Jewish laws or rules on the other. Shalmi led a discussion in how some of these laws came from the top down–such as “Jews can’t use public telephone booths”– and some came from the bottom up–such as “No Jews are allowed to sing in choirs.” It is important to realize that the Nazis set some laws in place, but community members in Germany also made their own anti-Jewish rules.
Frankie reacts to the Bavarian Quarter Memorial. Bavarian Quarter Memorial Website – Click Here Later we toured part of the German History Museum, where Shalmi contextualized the history of Nationalism in Germany, which had its origins in 1806 when Napoleon defeated the Germans in the battle of Jena. Shalmi told a story of the German composer Beethoven, who in 1803 composed a symphony for Napoleon who had just ended the Holy Roman Empire and became Emperor. He titled it “The Emporer Symphony;” however, in 1806, following German defeat, he retitled it “The Eroica”, wishing to disconnect it from Napoleon. During the years 1826-1845, due to the Industrial Revolution, the German population rises from 23 million to 32.7 million. People, including Jews, moved from the country farms into cities, where factory jobs were. Jews, who were literate, cosmopolitan and engaged in commerce, came to Germany wishing to assimilate, beginning a “one-sided love affair”. The Jews loved German culture for its music, art, and literature. However, German Nationalism was rooted in Romanticism and was based on history. Shalmi explained using a tree analogy, saying that Germans like composer Richard Wagner, saw a German as one whose roots were German. He did not believe that famous German composer Felix Mendelsohn-Bartholdy, even though he was born a Christian (his father had converted), was not German. Wagner, and other Germans who were applying the racist scientific principles, would not reciprocate the love for Jews.
DaiQuan and Mrs. Lisa Bauman discuss secret Nazi documents concerning the Wannsee Conference. After a stop for an authentic German lunch, including schnitzel, German potato salad and cucumber salad, we went to the Wannsee House. While sitting on the back steps overlooking the beautiful lake, Shalmi talked to us about the three phases of The Twisted Road to Auschwitz. Phase I, 1933-1939, to legitimize the Nazi government, all policy decisions needed to be based in law. The first task was to identify who was a German, and Jews were not allowed to be German if one or more grandparents was Jewish. During this phase, the Nazi government “encouraged” the emigration of Jews. Phase II, 1939-end of 1941/beginning of 1942 with the Wannsee Conference, Nazis focused on the process of gathering Jews of Poland and other European nations into ghettos for possible further removal to Madagascar, and killing the Jews of Russia through mobile killing squads. Phase III, 1942-1945, the decision to implement the decision to kill all the Jews of Europe, which included the technology and bureacracy of the process of death.