The students visit the Jewish Museum, a collection meant to convey the story of two millennia of Jewish history in Germany. The building itself is as uncanny as the collection, with many surprises along the way.
About the building:
In 1988, the Berlin government announced an anonymous competition for the new museum’s design. A year later, Daniel Libeskind’s design was chosen by the committee for what was then planned as a “Jewish Department” for the Berlin Museum. While other entrants proposed cool, neutral spaces, Libeskind offered a radical, zigzag design, which earned the nickname “Blitz” (“Lightning”).
For Libeskind, “The new design, which was created a year before the Berlin Wall came down was based on three conception that formed the museum’s foundation: first, the impossibility of understanding the history of Berlin without understanding the enormous intellectual, economic and cultural contribution made by the Jewish citizens of Berlin, second, the necessity to integrate physically and spiritually the meaning of the Holocaust into the consciousness and memory of the city of Berlin. Third, that only through the acknowledgement and incorporation of this erasure and void of Jewish life in Berlin, can the history of Berlin and Europe have a human future.” A line of “Voids,” empty spaces about 66 feet (20 m) tall, slices linearly through the entire building. Such voids represent “That which can never be exhibited when it comes to Jewish Berlin history: Humanity reduced to ashes.”