Jewish Tourism in Berlin and Germany’s Public Repentance for the Holocaust

Anne M. Blankenship

Abstract


For generations, members of the Jewish diaspora boycotted German products and would not have dreamed of stepping foot within the borders of a nation that murdered six million of their people. Today, however, American Jews are no less likely to visit Germany than non-Jewish Americans are, and thousands of Israeli Jews live in Berlin. My research asks how the German government and private tourism industries approach Jewish tourism in Berlin and assesses how Jewish visitors respond to the experience of visiting Berlin.During the summer of 2018, I interviewed four tour guides and numerous tourists, observed people’s interactionwith the city’sHolocaust memorials and other Jewish sites, partook in Jewish-themed tours, and conducted a ‘netnography’ of analysing over ten thousand TripAdvisor reviews. This qualitative research showed thatwhilemany Jews express apprehension about visiting Germany and experience emotional turmoil on site, the abundant memorials and museums dedicated to the Holocaust convince most  Jewish tourists that the nation is dedicated to educating and reminding its people about Germany’s past crimes and committed to repairing their relationship with the global Jewish community. The trips have the effect of both strengthening tourists’ Jewish identity and allowing them to  reconcile their people’s traumatic history with the current German nation. The article provides a brief analysis of Germany’s post-war marketing directed at foreign Jews, describes the Jewish-related sites in Berlin, and reveals the responses of Jewish tourists in Berlin before presenting its conclusions. 


Keywords: Jewish tourism, Germany, Berlin, dark tourism, Holocaust,
memorialisation


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