75 years since Kristallnacht

75 years since Kristallnacht


Israeli cafe owner Ze'er Avrahami poses by his window in Berlin, where 75 years ago a wave of brutal Nazi attacks took place on Jewish homes, businesses and places of worship in what became known as "Kristallnacht."

On the anniversary of that night of nationwide anti-Semitic violence, a prelude to the horrors of the Holocaust, photographer Thomas Peter asked Jewish Israelis living in Berlin today about life there in the context of this history.

. BERLIN, Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Ze'er Avrahami poses for a picture in "Sababa," an Israeli cafe he owns in the trendy Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin.

"I came to Berlin initially for the same reason everyone comes to Berlin, its cheap and there are many parties.”

“But if you are Jewish there is another layer to Berlin you have to explore. Berlin has to do with death of Jewish people. This is the layer of Jewish life that used to exist here in the past. Nobody talks about it,” he said.

. BERLIN, Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Web designer Nili Shani works next to her cat Mitze at her office in the city.

"When I left for Berlin, people would ask, 'what do you want there?' They didn't know Berlin. But today many find Berlin very cool and they come on visits."

"The image of Berlin has changed a lot for Israelis in the last ten years. What used to be the loathed capital of the Third Reich is now considered a great, open cosmopolitan city. Many Israelis flee from what's happening in the country and Berlin is a good destination."

. BERLIN, Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Israeli shop assistant Uri, who came to Germany nearly 30 years ago, poses for a picture in the doorway of a kosher food store in the wealthy Charlottenburg area of Berlin.

"Jewish life in Germany has developed a lot culturally and it is better accepted,” he said.

“Ten years ago it was still somewhat dangerous. Today we feel safe in the city centre, but outside of the city we have to be careful. Slowly, we hope, Jewish life will flourish as well as it did in the past, with more Jewish shops, restaurants and cafes.”

. BERLIN, Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Israeli potter Anat Moses, whose grandfather fled Nazi Germany in 1938, shapes clay in her workshop.

She has incorporated her family history in an installation of ceramics, with vases featuring her grandfather's flora illustrations and Hebrew translations of German lullabies that he used to sing.

"People's reactions are interesting. I think they fear the Hebrew letters, maybe because they don't understand them. But I find the dialogue with the people exciting," she said.

. BERLIN, Germany. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Israeli fashion designer Sharon Shalev-Schulz poses for a picture in her workshop.

"The first time I came to Berlin I fell in love with the city. And the second time I came to Berlin I fell in love with my husband. And the rest is history. I feel at home in Berlin. Home is where you make it.”

She added that she sometimes feels strange around older people in the city. “But I don't judge the young generation, I don't judge them for what their parents or grandparents did.”