31 January 2007

East Berlin cemetery fights for existence

Did you know that Europe's biggest Jewish cemetery is in East Berlin?

The Weissensee Cemetery opened in 1880, and 115,600 graves cover the equivalent of 86 soccer fields,
"The unique importance of Weissensee is not only its remarkable artistic treasures but also its inextricable link with the history of Berlin's Jews," Hermann Simon, director of the Centrum Judaicum foundation for Jewish history and culture, told AFP.

"When I walk through the cemetery I am reminded I am part of a long history that might have ended but instead endured," said Simon, who said he represents the 12th generation of his Jewish family in Berlin.

Click here for the story of how Berlin's authorities and Jewish community leaders are trying to have Weissensee Cemetery named to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

"It is really a mirror image of the history of Berlin's Jews in all its turbulence. And it shows the intertwined histories of Berlin and its Jews," said Simon.

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