As you enter the cemetery from the Berlin neighborhood of the same name (Weissensee), you feel as if you are pulling an old, tattered book out of your grandmother’s bookcase, blowing the dust off of it and opening up the yellowed pages with a creak of the binding.
Cemeteries tell a story, and the Weissensee Cemetery in Berlin is a giant historical war novel. But here the story is not necessarily about what’s in the novel, it’s about what's missing from the novel. Weissensee is one of the largest Jewish cemeteries in the world and is the resting place for 115,000 Jews who died mostly peacefully prior to the Holocaust.
The weeds and mold have grown around the gravestones, camouflaging the inscriptions. Some gravestones are broken in two and lay on the the ground next to the base like a cracked egg. These graves were neglected for years since the fallen haven’t had family who are able to visit and tend to the state of the graves. Most of the family members were murdered during the war or escaped after the war. It’s as if time in this cemetery stopped at 1933, and the pages of the novel have been ripped out.
Location: Herbert-Baum-Straße 45, Weißensee – Tram line M4 Opening times: Sunday–Thursday 10am–5pm, Friday 8am–3pm, closed on Jewish holidays. Open till 1pm the day before such a holiday. There are guided tours.