Feeling at home as a Jew in Germany

Danielle Chait
June 5, 2018


I am back with "a feeling at home in Germany: Jewish edition" post. 

There is no doubt that there will be that looming feeling of what happened not even too long ago in Germany. That was my opinion at least. Before study abroad or even majoring in German, I always wondered how Germany dealt with the aftermath of the Holocaust. How did they talk about it? Did they even talk about it? How was it being taught in school? How did Jewish people feel living in Germany? Would I feel comfortable? Who knows! I had a lot of questions going in, and I came out with a lot of answers. 

Here are some answers I found out: The Holocaust is taught heavily in school, according to a family friend who lives in Freiburg. For example, they go and listen to Holocaust survivors speak and attend events like that. That means that it is a conversation that is being had. Additionally, there are many memorials (in Freiburg alone) that commemorates the victims taken and the temples destroyed. I have explained some of these places in the pictures below:

Here I am standing in front of what used to be the old synagogue in Freiburg. In the next picture, there is a description of what happened to this synagogue and hundreds more in Germany on Kristallnacht. 

The description of the events that occured. There are two of these signs surrounding the fountain.

This circular desription was designed into the floor of the fountain. It basically says that on the tenth of November 1938 the temple was burned down. 

Children playing in the water of the fountain. This is definetely a controversial conversation that people have about children (and adults) being able to run and walk through the water of the fountain. Some people think it is okay and some people think it is a lack of respect. I believe that since people know what they are walking on (the old temple) and they treat the area with a sign of respect, it is okay that they enjoy the water. Just do not forget what it is. 

I walked past this memorial everyday in Freiburg. One day I passed it and there were roses sitting there. I do not know why, but I really enjoyed the sight of them. 

Gurs was an internment camp in the southwestern part of France. Over 450 Jews from Freiburg and around the area were sent there on November 22, 1940. The picture below this one describes this event. As you can see the old temple is in the background. 

This plaque describes what happened to the 450+ Jews in Freiburg. It is accompanied by the picture below of the coat. 

This coat lays on a very busy bridge in Freiburg. On first glance, it looked like a real coat someone forgot and made me do a double take. Then I approached it to see what it represented. This was the spot where so many Jews were taken away. A breathtaking sculpture of such a simple everyday article of clothing got me thinking of how much historical horror happened at the exact spot I was standing on. 

Star of David with the word "Jude" which means Jew.

Stolperstein - These are stones that lie in the ground in front of the houses where Jewish people lived before they were taken from their homes and deported. "Hier wohnte..." translates to "here lived...". You definetely see them everywhere. Even though I know nothing about these people besides that they were Jewish, I personally feel some kind of connection in that immediate vicinity. I try to take a minute to read their names, think about who they could have been and give them a moment to be thought on. And of course: May their memories be a blessing. 

The Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. Yes, this is not Freiburg, however I also saw this memorial while studying abroad so it counts! This is to commemorate for the Jews who fell victim to the Nazi Regime. You can see that it lays in the middle of the city which means this area of the city is definetly hard to miss, especially because it is about a two minute walk from the Brandenburg Gate. In my opinion, it is not labeled well enough. People who do not know what it stands for run around and treat it as a playground. 

Jewish Museum Berlin - This is in the Museum, however I am including it because it was a creepy exhibition. Visitors were allowed to step on these faces that represented the victims. As they did, a metal sound filled the room. It was so uncomfortable to watch that I did not partake in the walking. But the point of it was to feel uncomfortable. You should never feel comfort in thinking about what happened not so long ago.

So these are some of the Jewish things I found while studying abroad. Besides the above pictures, I had tried to get into some temples in Berlin, and I was not allowed because I had to check in with the temple way in advanced. I was bummed about that because I definetely do feel a seperation of my Jewish background while being in Germany. Oh well, I will be home soon and all will be well, but I can say that I felt comfortable enough being a Jewish girl living in Germany. 

Danielle Chait

<p>Hello! I am Dani and I speak 5 languages! I am a dancer, modern dance specifically, and have been dancing since 4 years old. As cheesy as it sounds, dance has always been my emotional and creative outlet. I LOVE photography and graphic design (photoshop, etc). I want graphic design to be my career. I love living a healthy lifestyle by hiking, eating well, and practicing self-love. I am just trying to experience life to the max and I know that studying abroad will help me do that.</p>

2018 Spring
Home University:
University of Puget Sound
San Diego, CA
German Language
Explore Blogs