No Place for Hate: Display case in Berlin-Moabit

Interview: Thomas Schöndorfer from the "Sie waren Nachbarn" (They were neighbors) association 

What is the display case's concept and what does it focus on?

The display case is situated in front of the Tiergarten town hall. It is approximately 300 x 180 cm and it is made available by the Mitte district to associations, initiatives, artists and others who live and work in the neighborhood. The association "Sie waren Nachbarn" can use the display case in November and December to provide information about their work and present their own projects. This year we presented an exhibition on the subject of "Moabit Hospital". During the course of the year, a working group from the association carried out research relating to the former Moabit hospital, which has no longer existed as a municipal clinic since the end of the 80s. The central topics for us were the commendable work of Jewish doctors there. After the handover of power to the National Socialists, all of them were dismissed and persecuted. We also remembered the resistance group led by the doctor Georg Groscurth and the physicist Robert Havemann, who fought against National Socialist terror. We used texts on display boards as well as a wooden block model of the hospital to inform interested visitors about its history.

The display case was created by the association "Sie waren Nachbarn" - who or what is behind it?

We are an association that looks after Jewish life - not only, but especially - in Moabit. We have been working on this since 2011. In 2015, we hung a large banner with the statement: "Von hier aus fuhren Züge ins Gas" (This is where trains left for the gas chambers) on Ellen-Epstein-Strasse which runs past the Moabit freight yard memorial site. It was damaged a number of times. We compiled lists of Jews who were deported and murdered in the National Socialist ghettos and extermination camps and displayed them in the windows of the former Hertie department store in Turmstraße. We created an audio walk, amongst other things. It takes visitors along the route Jews had to take from the transit camp in the synagogue in the former Levetzowstraße to the Moabit deportation station. The audio walk can be downloaded to your cell phone or your smartphone free of charge. We have recently installed listening stations at key points along the deportation route. You can hear excerpts from the audio walk in English or German at the touch of a button. Other topics, which were also the subject of an exhibition in the display case, are "accommodation places for forced laborers in Moabit" and "Jewish businesses in Moabit". A working group is currently compiling materials that we want to offer to schools that deal with the topics of antisemitism and Jewish life.

What is happening now after the arson attack?

There is no letter claiming responsibility. It is clear to us that enemies of the Jewish people were behind the attack. For a short time, the destroyed contents of the display case stood as a memorial to this shameful act. We documented our position with a large poster "Against any Form of Antisemitism" and a statement on the attack. The exhibition was then rebuilt with newly printed panels in the display case, which is still marked by the arson attack. With this reaction, we intend to show that we will not be intimidated and that we will continue to pursue our intention to show Jewish life in Moabit and taking a firm stand against hatred of Jews.
Developments here and in Israel/Gaza also show that we need to increase our efforts to engage with young people through schools. The simple truth that Jews are neither worse nor better than non-Jews needs to become a matter of common understanding. We believe that anchoring this simple insight amongst as many people as possible is a suitable means of combating antisemitism.

See the website of the association


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