1. How many Jewish people are still living in Germany today?
2. What is it like to be Jewish person living in Germany?
The answer that you might be thinking is, “Who knows?” Although, in our day and age I guess “Google!” could also be an acceptable rhetorical answer to these questions.
Nevertheless, the Jewish Museum in Berlin opened an exhibit in March of 2013 to help answer these questions. It was called „Die ganze Wahrheit … was Sie schon immer über Juden wissen wollten“ or “The Whole Truth…Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jews.” One display of the exhibit is a three sided glass box, and yes you guessed it, housed inside this box for two hours a day was a Jewish person.
Leeor Engländer, a columnist for Die Welt and participant of the exhibit said,
“Because there are so few Jews in Germany—Engländer puts the number at around two hundred thousand—most Germans are deeply unfamiliar with Jewish culture.”
With Germany’s population of over 82 million that roughly equates to a Jewish population of .2 percent. Because of this, many Jewish stereotypes still exist in Germany. Though many, like Engländer, feel this exhibit is “fantastic,” and a perfect way to bust stereotypes, many criticize against it and find it extremely controversial despite its popularity.
Stephan Kramer, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the box reminded him of the glass booth that housed Adolf Eichmann (high-ranking SS officer who was responsible for deporting Jews to death camps during WWII.) during his 1961 war crimes trial in Israel that led to his execution.”Why don’t they give him a banana and a glass of water, turn up the heat and make the Jew feel really cozy in his glass box?” Kramer told the Associated Press after the exhibit opened in the spring.
A Jewish American blogger stated that the exhibit was “SO FREAKING WEIRD.” She goes on to say, There is something deeply unsettling to me about this exhibit – this stark presentation of “us” and “them”; a venue where people are literally put in boxes.”
The people who find the exhibit to be controversial feel it is demeaning to put a person on display, but I feel that this exhibit did what it was intended to do. It gave German visitors a real life person to speak to about Judaism, and broke
down many stereotypes about Jews. It also helped people to move past defining Jewish people solely with the Holocaust. For many Germans who still feel guilty about the Holocaust, the exhibit gave them a place to ask questions without having to visit a Synagogue or Jewish center. Unfortunately though, for those who might want to visit this exhibit, it was only up through September of 2013 and is no longer on display at the Jewish Museum in Berlin.