In March, I traveled to Germany for a project about motherhood for the Goethe-Institut’s PRX Radio listening series, The Big Pond. (My “Welcome to MotherLand” episode will drop sometime around Mother’s Day in the U.S.)
While there, I traveled to Ravensburg in the south and to Berlin in the north. I had planned to see some of the Jewish historical and memorial sites, but it turns out Germany’s Jewish past is quite present — even when you’re not explicitly looking for it. And, sometimes, you quite literally can trip over it.
The presence of statues and plaques commemorating resistance and memorializing individuals and communities crystallized, for me, the significance of the recent passage of HB 307, which makes Maryland the first state to create a Lynching Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission will investigate the more than 40 racial terror lynchings that happened on Maryland soil. The act states, “Restorative justice requires a full knowledge, understanding and acceptance of the truth before there can be any meaningful reconciliation.”
“Meaningful reconciliation” is part of what I felt standing in the presence of the many memorials to Jewish lives and lineages destroyed in Germany. But I also felt a deep sense of grief and outrage. Feelings that seemed to heave up to the surface through generations. Here is some of what I saw and experienced (above).
For further information:
- Jewish Museum Berlin
- Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
- Lindenstrasse Synagogue
- Rykestrasse Synagogue
- Masel Topf
- Schönhauser Allee Cemetery
- Rosenstrasse protest
- Gunter Demnig
All photos by Melissa Gerr.
Melissa Gerr is a freelance content creator for print, audio and visual. She is a producer/contributor for “On the Record” at WYPR Radio.
Join Melissa Gerr on Weekend Agenda on Facebook Live at facebook.com/jmoreliving on June 14 at 12:30 p.m. to discuss her trip to Germany and other summer vacation plans.