9 Jewish Places To Visit In Berlin With Kids – Kveller

I was apprehensive about visiting Germany given my family history: my Jewish grandparents escaped the Holocaust in Austria, and I recently obtained dual citizenship as a descendant of victims of Nazi persecution. But a recent press trip turned out to be a truly meaningful and ultimately positive experience.

It made me think of what it would be like to visit the city with children to teach them about Jewish history and the Holocaust. Although this is a difficult and complex subject that can be difficult to explain to children, it can be helpful to have physical monuments to point to and curated exhibits for children. Germany has made great strides in atoning for the sins of World War II, and Berlin is full of memorials and educational information.

During my trip, the Second World War came up often and I ended up talking a lot about my family’s history. So think ahead about what you’re comfortable disclosing. Be sure to take time to process any emotions that may arise and set aside time for lighter activities.

Here are nine places to share Jewish history with your kids in Berlin, organized by neighborhood.

Hackescher Markt district

Once on the outskirts of the city – now in the central district of Mitte – Hackescher Markt is Berlin’s former Jewish quarter. In the 17th century, when the estate was outside of town, it was full of barns used to store hay and straw. It is still called the Scheunenviertel (barn quarter) today. People began to settle there, so in 1731 Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I extended the city walls to include the area. Jewish residents began to settle there and built a vibrant community. In 1930, there were nearly 300 Jewish institutions.

  • New Synagogue. The synagogue was built in 1866 and was the main place of worship for the Jewish community in Berlin. On November 9, 1938, when synagogues all over Germany were burned down by the Nazis, the head of the local police station called the fire department to save the synagogue, claiming it was a listed historic building. The building was saved because a non-Jewish man stepped in – a great lesson for kids about the importance of standing up for what’s right. Even if you’re just passing by to look at the magnificent golden dome, it’s worth stopping by.
  • Anne Frank Center. Anne Frank was only 16 when she died in a concentration camp. She had spent two years hidden in a secret annex. The diary she kept was published after her death and has helped many to understand the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis. His tragic story will be told to children because of his youth. At the Anne Frank Center there are video interviews for children to watch, tactile objects and places where they can write letters; as well as information about his life.
  • Otto Weidt’s Workshop for the Blind Museum. Another opportunity to teach your kids the importance of standing up for what’s right and the stories of real people who went through persecution – and stood up to the Nazis. Otto Weidt was a factory owner who risked his life to employ and protect blind and deaf Jews. In the Otto Weidt Museum you can see the small, windowless room where the Weidt workers hid, photographs of them and the letters they wrote.

Food and other activities

  • Once the kids are out of the museum, take them nearby Hackescher Hof, a complex of eight courtyards with art nouveau facades largely restored after the war. Within the 27,000 square meters there are 40 businesses which include shops, cultural institutions, a cinema and numerous cafes.
  • It is within walking distance of several parks: James Simon Park and the biggest Monbijouparkwith a basketball court, a table tennis table and an open swimming pool.
  • Don’t miss the street art at Schwarzenberg House. From Rosenthaler Strasse, take your kids through an unassuming archway into this colorful courtyard where nearly every available surface is covered in street art, including some designed for the blind.

The Jewish Museum

If there is one place in Berlin to learn more about Jewish history in Germany, this is it. The Jewish Museum is absolutely worth a visit, and it has something for kids of all ages. It opened in 2001 and has since welcomed over 10 million visitors.

  • ANOHA Children’s World of the Jewish Museum. If your children are between 3 and 10 years old, be sure to spend some time in this part of the Jewish Museum. The kids helped advise and co-create it from the start. There’s a huge wooden arch for kids to climb, 150 unique animal sculptures they can play with, stations where they can craft and build things, and workshops and guided tours. The museum aims to make children think about the respectful coexistence of people, animals and nature, and to protect and honor diversity. Free entry.
  • jewish museum. If your kids are over 10, the main Jewish museum has deep exhibits and stunning architecture. After closing for a year and a half of reconstruction, the museum opened a new main exhibition in August 2020, which covers 3,500 years of Jewish life in Germany: from the Middle Ages to the present day. The main exhibition is free. Temporary exhibitions cost 3 to 8 euros; under 18s enter for free.

Food and other activities

  • The coffee in the Jewish Museum offers traditional Jewish and Israeli cuisine, as well as more international dishes (but only kosher snacks).
  • You will be 15 minutes by bus from Hausvogteiplatz. If your kids love fashion, there’s a memorial of three sky-facing mirrors to the 4,000 Jews who were driven out of the textile industry.

Mitte, central Berlin

Mitte is Berlin’s most central district. It includes the historic core of the city and the most important tourist sites. It was one of only two boroughs once divided between East Berlin and West Berlin along the Berlin Wall.

  • Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. This memorial is sure to leave an impact on your family. It consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of varying heights, which represent the 6 million European Jews who perished in the Holocaust. There is also an underground information center with photographs, newspapers and films. Just walking through the slabs above ground leads to a dark reflection. Children also enjoy running through the memorial and playing hide and seek. While some find it disrespectful, the designer, Peter Eisenman, envisioned the memorial as a place where life unfolds and where children can run through the pillars and touch the stones.
  • Trains for life – Trains for death. This near-life-size work commemorates children in the 1930s. It was created by sculptor Frank Meisler, who himself escaped on the Kindertransporte funded by London stockbroker Nicholas Winton who rescued around 10,000 children jews. Nearly 2 million children died between 1933 and 1945 as a result of Nazi persecution. The sculpture provides a good opportunity to talk about what the Holocaust was like for children.
  • Mmemorial to Moses Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn was a German Jewish philosopher who translated the Torah into German; he died in 1786. This subtle monument to the ground is located near the City hall. The dark stones show the house Mendelssohn wanted to buy — but Berlin Jews couldn’t own property. This can help children understand that not everyone has the same rights.
  • Bebelplatz. This memorial at Humboldt University marks the spot where 20,000 books were burned by Nazi students. In the square, you will see a small window in the floor. Children can peek through to see empty shelves with room for the 20,000 burnt books. They will be able to see how much space 20,000 books take up and imagine how much knowledge was lost by burning them.

Food and other activities

  • Stop to eat near the beautiful Gendarmenmarkt square, maybe Hugo & Nottewhich serves modern French-inspired cuisine in a casual setting.
  • You will be close toh Brandenburg Gate, so be sure to take a family photo.
  • If the family needs a little air conditioning, the Berlin World Cup The exhibition at the Humboldt Forum is interactive and fun for children who can read. Visitors determine their own path through the exhibition by answering questions along the way – and wear a special wristwatch. The exhibition covers many themes: revolution, free space, borders, entertainment, war, fashion and interconnection. It includes information about Jewish history in Berlin, as well as a silent disco dance party.
  • For the youngest, take a break in the City hall to see the lego replica on the second floor.
  • No trip to Berlin is complete without a visit to the infamous television tower – an emblematic symbol of the city. Teenagers will enjoy virtual reality 15 minutes Berlin Odyssey exhibition on the ground floor, which offers an excellent introduction to the history of the city. Then take the 40-second elevator for stunning views from the highest point in town.

Tips for eating with kids in Berlin

  • Many places have an English menu – just ask! The restaurants are quite kid-friendly, but you’ll want to keep them busy and on the quieter side if possible; The food culture in Germany tends to be calm and polite.
  • The beer (beer) gardens are a great place to take the kids – they’re outside, so kids can get a little rowdy and run around. Some even have play areas.
  • Must-try fast foods for kids in Berlin include bratwurst; pretzels and cheeses; currywurst, which is a bratwurst seasoned with curry ketchup (not spicy!); käse spätzle – think of this as thick mac and cheese made with egg noodles; and doner kebabs – Berlin has a large Turkish population. For dessert, try the kaiserschmarrn – like a fried pancake.
  • If you’re feeling ambitious, go to Kanaan, a vegan-vegetarian restaurant launched by an Israeli entrepreneur and a Palestinian Arab restaurateur. The restaurant strives to be a welcoming and safe place for all genders, sexualities and races. They employ refugees from the Middle East and Africa. A great place to show your children tolerance and inclusivity in action.

More Berlin travel tips

  • Look down! You will find stolpersteine, or stumbling blocks, everywhere; there are more than 8,000 in Berlin. Each block honors an individual persecuted by the Nazis. The stolpersteine ​​are the largest decentralized memorial in the world, created by German artist Gunter Demnig. Children are often curious about this.
  • The Berlin WelcomeCard will offer you free transport and discounts.
  • Be sure to inform your hotel of the total number of people (including children) in your room – this is mandatory.
  • Berlin is full of parks and green spaces, so if you ever need a break, you’re probably close by. It is common to see children enjoying the water and fountains, especially in hot weather. Swimwear optional.

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