Europe's largest Jewish cemetery has become a wilderness of crumbling mausoleums
"This is the last chance. Nature is reclaiming the site; much of it looks like a jungle. If we don't do anything now, we won't be able to save it," said Meyer, adding that many tombs already were almost beyond repair.
As a result, Berlin's Jewish community is looking to the German government for its rescue. And, Meyer plans to propose that Weissensee be put forward as a candidate for UNESCO's list of world heritage sites, a move that virtually would guarantee future funding by the German government.
The city of Berlin has said it is too broke to pay for the restoration. But Mayor Klaus Wowereit said he would support Meyer's appeal for federal funds and for UNESCO recognition.
"This is not just a problem for the Jewish community," Meyer said. "It's a problem for Germany as a whole. The graveyard reflects a history of Jewish life in Germany that no longer exists."
Historians agree that the site, opened in 1880, is a national treasure because the musicians, scientists, poets and business people buried there show how integrated and important Jews were in German society before the Nazis wiped them out.
There were more than 173,000 Jews living in Berlin in the early 1930s before Hitler came to power. By 1941, 100,000 had managed to flee; most of the rest were deported and murdered in the Holocaust. Just over 1,000 managed to survive underground in Berlin, and 12,000 live in Berlin today.
comments powered by Disqus
- New documentary explores the legacy of the 5,000 Rosenwald schools set up by a Sears magnate and Booker T. Washington
- Rare silent Native American movie of 1920s attracting a lot of interest
- It happened in Idaho and was the largest massacre of Indians in US history, but where exactly did it take place?
- Junípero Serra’s Missions Destroyed Entire Native Cultures. And Now He’s Going to Be a Saint.
- Isis destruction of Palmyra's Temple of Bel revealed in satellite images
- Two scholars from UT object to the Texas school's decision to remove the statue of Jefferson Davis
- A history professor explains why Americans are so prone to conspiracy theories
- Now Greg Grandin has come out with a study of Henry Kissinger
- Japanese historian upends the familiar narrative of WW 2 by taking a bottom up approach, focusing on fascism from the grassroots
- Holocaust-denying historian David Irving organises 'disgusting' £2,000-a-head holiday tours of former concentration camps and Hitler's HQ so people can 'make up their own mind about the truth'