by Samuel D. Gruber
Since a recent visit to Berlin I've been posting about some of the less well known Jewish and Holocaust-related monuments and memorials in the city. I've already posted about the Münchener Strasse Synagogue monument, the Jewish cemetery on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, monuments and markers at U-Bahn and S-Bahn stations, and the monument and burial section at the Weissensee Cemetery for Jewish soldiers who died in World War I.
Today, because it is International Women's Day (shouldn't every day be?), I introduce the very dramatic sculptural ensemble commemorating the Rosenstraße.demonatrations of 1943, when hundreds of German women who were wives and mothers of Jewish men, protested for a week to have their men released from Nazi custody.
First a new street kiosk (known as a Litfass column) was erected close to the site of where the men were detained. This new information kiosk, which provides history of the events, recalls an earlier kiosk on the site in 1943. We know this from photos taken at the time by who was among those imprisoned men subsequently released. Read more about the memorial here.
The main work - is the sculptural group "Block der Frauen" ("Block of Women" monument), carved by sculptor Ingeborg Hunzinger (1915-2009), and dedicated in 1995. Hunzigern, a communist who has studied in Berlin in the 1930s until she was forced to emigrate, had worked with the prominent East German sculptor Fritz Cremer in the 1950s, probably when he designed the monument at Buchenwald. Hunzinger designed the Rosenstrasse monument in the 1980s, but policies in the GDR (East Germany) prevented its acceptance and installation. In 1995, after German unification, the new Berlin Senate vote for its creation.
The sculptural group of sculptures is located near the site of the former Jewish administrative building in which the Gestapo held the men captive, which was subsequently destroyed in the war.
The inscription on the rear of the monuments reads: "The strength of civil disobedience, the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship; Give us our men back; Women were standing here, defeating death; Jewish men were free."