Saturday, May 18, 2013
Today after our first real night of sleep, which was very desperately needed, we ate our first Berlin breakfast and headed off to the Jewish Museum of Berlin. At the museum we were each provided with ipods and headphones which were set to tell us about each display on command which was very convenient. At this point our group started off together taking in the exhibit of the Garden of Exile together with Dr. Paces. This exhibit was very interesting. The artist designed it to make those walking between its large stone pillars feel trapped, uncomfortable, and imbalanced. Walking through it I felt disoriented lost, and fenced in by the close walls towering over me. There were plants at the top of each pillar which were a rough and brittle in appearance giving off the impression that overcoming these tall barriers would still not end the struggle to get out. After we took in the Garden of Exile we moved on each at our own paces through the rest of the museum. I was both surprised and pleased at how comprehensive the museum was on the entirety of Jewish history. Though the Holocaust was justifiably and appropriately represented it did not take over the whole museum. They covered Judaism from the early middle ages and gave a very detailed representation of their place, actions, and influence on the world throughout time. I think it is important to remember that though the Holocaust certainly affected the Jews but it does not define who they are as a people, as a religion. I'm glad we were reminded of that crucial truth today. We all began to trickle out of the museum and headed back to our hotel. We took a quick break there and then headed into a conference room for a presentation by one of our group members, Andrew Goldfarb. He gave us a very interesting presentation on the basis of the Nazi ideology in regards to science in particular. He taught us all about how Charles Darwin's theory of evolution was abused and bent to fit the Nazi way of thinking, using this manipulated science to justify deplorable actions, many of which Andrew explained to us such as the laws they created via this science and how they used it to promote the Aryan race and oppressed all those who did not meet the ridiculous standards they set. His presentation gave many of us more history and politically orientated people a new perspective on the Holocaust through this "pseudo-science" history. After Andrew's presentation we went out to an authentic German restaurant and ate sausage, potato soup and berries. For someone like me, who usually doesn't each this type of food, it was a new and interesting experience which I enjoyed. Overall it was a particularly enlightening day filled with new and interesting experiences. I was both surprised and glad that there was still more I could learn about the Holocaust despite my already fairly extensive knowledge. I expect to discover even more during our day tomorrow as we explore Berlin on our own in the morning.