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New Berlin Holocaust Institute Also Looks at Tolerance

DW staff (df)
September 16, 2006

The German capital is home to the Holocaust memorial, two Jewish museums and an academic center for anti-Semitic research. Now a small college is opening a Holocaust institute that also looks at questions of tolerance.

Germany's pre-war religious minority, the Jews, were forced to wear the Star of DavidImage: AP

There is perhaps no other city more associated with the annihilation of European Jewry than Berlin, nor any city after the war that has been filled with retribution for the Holocaust.

There's the Holocaust Memorial designed by American architect Peter Eisenman that consists of 2,711 stone slabs spread over the size of several football fields in the heart of Berlin, between the Brandenburg Gate and the site of Hitler's bunker.

Holocaust-Mahnmal nach einem Jahr
American architect Peter Eisenman designed the Holocaust Memorial in central BerlinImage: AP

Germany's capital also boosts two museums: Architect Daniel Libeskind's ultra modern Jewish Museum, built in the form of a deconstructed Star of David; and the Wannsee Museum, the villa where the conference on the so-called Nazi "Final Solution" was held. For the academically inclined, there is the Center for Anti-Semitic Research at Berlin's Technical University.

Now the Lander Institute for the Communication of the Holocaust and Tolerance is to be launched at the Touro College in Berlin. Its namesake is Bernhard Lander, a 92-year-old American Rabbi, sociology professor and human rights activist, who founded the private university in 1970.

Today Touro College, which derives its name from Isaac Touro, a Jewish philanthropist in colonial America, is a liberal arts college with campuses in New York, California, Israel, Russia and Germany. Around 22,000 students are enrolled worldwide.


The director of the Institute is Andreas Nachama, who was former president of Berlin's Jewish community, now dominated by Russian Jews who have settled in Germany since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In an interview with DW-World, Nachema explained the mission of the Lander Institute.

"It's not just about Jews, but about a minority population that is marginalized in our society," he said. "By looking at the past, we can look at present day xenophobia, conflicts with Islam, and so on. The institute is not just about the Holocaust, but about fostering tolerance."