One of Berlin's largest synagogues was located in Levetzowstraße in the district of Moabit. In 1941, the National Socialists set up a collection camp for Berlin Jews from where they were deported to the east. Since 1988, a memorial on the synagogue's former location commemorates the deported Jews of Berlin.
The liberal synagogue in Levetzowstraße, inaugurated in 1914, could seat over 2,000 people. In the course of the »Kristallnacht« in November 1938, the National Socialists destroyed part of its interior, yet the building remained intact. When the National Socialists began mass deportations of Jews from the German Reich in the autumn of 1941, the Gestapo forced the Jewish community to set up a collection camp in the synagogue. The Gestapo arrested Jewish families in their apartments in neighbouring districts, mostly in the middle of the night, and brought them to the Levetzow synagogue. The Jews usually spent a few days in the well-guarded collection camp before they were deported to ghettos and concentration camps in the occupied eastern territories. The Jewish community was responsible for all provisions. Prior to their »evacuation«, the Gestapo forced the Jews to fill out forms concerning their assets, which were then seized by the German state. Any valuables they had brought along were confiscated by the Gestapo. When a transport list had been completed, police and SS units chased the Jews to the train station, beating and whipping them along the way. Upon arrival, the Jews had to board special trains of the German state railway. The trains departed from the Grunewald train station probably until spring 1942; due to the close proximity of the Moabit freight depot, the trains then began departing from there as well as from the Anhalter train station.
Over 50,000 Berlin Jews who were deported did not live to see the end of the war. Many of the transports were headed for the ghettos of Theresienstadt, Minsk, Riga, Kaunas (Russian: Kovno) and Łódź. From July 1942 on, many of the transports went directly from Berlin to Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps.
The remains of the synagogue, which was destroyed during an air raid in 1944, were torn down in the mid-1950s. The memorial to the deportations was set up in 1988 on the location of the former synagogue on the initiative of the Berlin Senate. Two architects, Jürgen Wenzel and Theseus Bappert as well as sculptor Peter Herbrich, erected a stylised deportation ramp with a freight car and a steel wall on which the departure dates of all the transports are inscribed. On the ramps and inside the freight car are marble figures depicting groups of humans tied together. Additionally, metal plaques on the ground on the site of the former synagogue entrance show reliefs of the synagogues which once used to stand in Berlin.
- Mahnmal Levetzowstraße
- The memorial is accessible at all times.