Browsing articles from "July, 2013"

Einstein, Hegel, Lazar – all graduates

Jul 1, 2013   //   by David   //   Blog  //  5 Comments

Alot has changed during the 20 years since I last visited Berlin. Then, I arrived by train from Prague to the East Berlin railway station and had to find a way to get to the west. There was nowhere to stay in the East, back then. Now the East is where the action is at. It is one of Europe’s cheapest cities to live in and one of it’s most artistically diverse.

It seems change is endemic to the city. Back in the 1920s, when Berlin was the world’s third largest city and a center of liberal thought, my Grandfather Oscar Lazar studied at the great Humboldt University. That’s the same university taught in or attended by Hegel, Marx, Engels, Heine, Einstein, Max Planck and other luminaries. Oscar left Berlin in 1929 when the great depression led to massive hyperinflation. Thank you, depression. Little did Oscar know that only 4 year later, in May 1933, his fellow students would be burning books and killing local Jews. (One third of faculty was Jewish. And Jews paid 25% of the city’s taxes.) Only 10% of all Jews living in Berlin in 1933 survived the Holocaust.

Called Destroyed Diversity, Berlin marks 2013, the 80th anniversary of the events of 1933, with exhibits along the main street, Unter Der Linde. Each exhibit marks the racist and fascist events of 1933 and bemoans the loss to Berlin that Nazi policies engendered. It tells the personal stories of people who were forced to flee or were killed during Nazi rule. A little past the Brandenburg Gate a more permanent exhibit outside the Reichstag (Parliament) numbers the 80 or so Jews who worked in the Reichstag when the Nazi’s took power. They disappeared in the putsch. And a bit further on the Holocaust memorial: 2,711 gray stone slabs unmarked with names or dates.