Jewish Tours of Berlin: The Book Burning Memorial by Micha Ullman

History is how the past becomes present.
What's considered important within the past,
turns into a part of our present time,
present in our life and lifetime.

But if everything is equally important,
then nothing really is.

So when we look back,
hat should we consider important?
And more importantly, why?

Above: Micha Ullman's memorial, done in 1995,
to the Berlin Book Burning of 1933
History is not just about what's true. Our past is made of endless things that truly happened, but that does not make them history.

Historically, the important question is: What is important?

- This is what guides me as a guide.

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Hello and welcome! My name is Yoav Sapir and I'm a professional, authorized tour guide in Berlin, as well as a journalist, lecturer and translator. If you want to know more about my background, take a look here.

I share this passion and profession with my wife Natalie, whom I owe much of my understanding of this country. Our tours include the key aspects of the "Berlin complex": domestic and international politics, architecture and art, old and new identities, ethnic statehood vs. multicultural realities, challenges and controversies. But first and foremost, we understand ourselves as History Guides: Berlin as the center of the Prussian empire, of the Weimar republic, of the Nazi Reich, of German communism - Berlin as an explosive set of contradictions, concisely exemplified by the divided city being the focal point of the Cold War. And on top of all that, there's Jewish Berlin.

Because of my heritage, my main focus lies on Berlin's
Jewish history - perhaps I should say "Berlin's Jewish histories", in plural, as there were many of them. But as we know, that richness of spirit and intellect was violently destroyed. To a great extent, therefore, Berlin's Jewish history has to do with the Holocaust.

In Germany, particularly in Berlin, this dark chapter took place in very different ways than what most of us know about the Holocaust in general. During my studies and researches in Berlin, I was surprised to learn how different the specific Berlin type of the Holocaust was than the "usual", namely Eastern-European manifestations of Nazi persecution. I had to set aside the common notions of Ghettos, starvation or cynically re-purposed cattle wagons, because in Berlin, there's another story to be told.

Eventually, my journeys in Berlin changed my perception of this chapter in our past. Here too, the plural might be adequate: It might very well be more accurate not to speak about "the" Holocaust, but about various different "Holocausts". One of them took place here, in the center of Europe and its civilization, in the very capital of the German Reich, in its streets and allies, in the house next door or even at the very location of your hotel. And it did so quite often very differently than what we usually learned in schools.

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For your convenience, I wrote an overview of my repertoire, describing the special aspects of each tour; you'll find here various Tour Suggestions, which we can accommodate to suit your needs. The favorite of all is my Jewish Berlin Tour, and you can find further information on this particular tour on the dedicated Jewish Berlin Tour page.

If you're coming with a cruise ship and have only one day in Berlin, you'll find the relevant information on the Berlin for Cruise Guests page.

In addition to my academic diplomas and official tour-guiding permit, I also hold guiding licenses issued by the German Resistance Memorial Center and the Sachsenhausen concentration camp memorial.

I'd be happy to help you design your trip to Berlin and make the most out of your time in this fascinating, yet complex city. On this website, you'll also find tourist information regarding Kosher food in Berlin and Berlin's synagogues as well as many other suggestions and ideas for you stay in Berlin.

Guided Tours in Berlin - Stumbling Stones by Gunter Demnig

History is all about choices.
Your limited time in Berlin is a metaphor
for our limited time on this earth
and the natural limits of memory.

As we grow, the way we look back changes.
That's how history changes, slowly but constantly,
and no two tours a guide gives,
could ever be the same.

Above: Gunter Demnig's remembrance stones
for victims of the Nazis, in this case for former
Jewish residents of Berlin (an ongoing project)
Guiding tours in Berlin is my profession, but not just. To me, professionalism means having a certain philosophy behind what you're doing and knowing what you're doing it for. You can read about my guiding philosophy here.

Last but not least, you'll also find here concise answers to frequently asked questions about my tours, an abbreviated history of Berlin in the 20th century as well as some interesting facts and figures about contemporary Berlin, to help you understand better the city you're planning to visit.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me - I'm happy to assist.

Imprint: German law requires me to publish here a postal address, though not necessarily my private address. Because of my public profile in Germany, and after having received numerous anti-Semitic phone calls, I cannot take the risk of exposing my private residence. Therefore, I hereby declare that anyone, specifically foes, can reach me via normal mail by addressing their hate letters, bombs etc. to Yoav Sapir, c/o Kühnemann, Liegnitzer Str. 19, 10999 Berlin. Friends can contact me directly. German law also requires me to put a disclaimer saying that I am not responsible for the contents of external links, which I hereby do. This sounds funny, I know, but German law isn't funny. Trust me on that (I could actually get sued if I wouldn't put this imprint here). So there it is. I hope you enjoyed it. If you have any questions about it, feel free to write me an e-mail.