Orte der Erinnerung 1933-1945

Orte der Erinnerung 1933 - 1945

Gedenkstätten, Dokumentationszentren und Museen
zur Geschichte der nationalsozialistischen Diktatur
in Berlin und Brandenburg

Silent Heroes Memorial Center: Resistance to the National Socialist Persecution of Jews from 1933–1945

About six million people fell victim to the National Socialist genocide of European Jews starting in 1941, most of whom were shot or murdered with poisonous gas. Among them were more than 160,000 German Jews. From October 1941, they were mostly deported to the extermination sites in the German-occupied territories in Poland and in the Soviet Union and murdered there. 

Around 10,000 to 12,000 German Jews tried to elude this fatal threat. Since emigration was forbidden and also practically impossible to succeed in doing illegally, the only possibility left was to go underground – which led to an uncertain outcome for them. Those who “went under” were resisting the dictatorship. Hiding places had to be found and changed often. There was always a danger of being betrayed or discovered. Probably more than half of those in Germany who were able to avoid being deported were in Berlin. A lot of people first went under as late as in 1943 when the remaining Jews who were, for the most part, compelled to work as forced labourers in the arms industry were supposed to be deported. About 5,000 of those who went underground in Germany survived, more than 1,700 of those were in Berlin. 

Most were only able to succeed with the help of people who were ready to support those persecuted. While putting themselves in danger, these “silent heroes” supplied food, arranged fake papers, helped people escape, found them a place to stay or hid the persecuted in their own homes. Some of the helpers took the initiative themselves to provide life-saving support. For instance, they appealed to Jewish friends to not let themselves be deported and offered to help them to live underground. Many became rescuers because they were asked directly for help from people being persecuted or from other helpers. Ideologies and political motives played as much of a role here as spontaneous compassion. These motivations helped people in overcoming their fear for themselves or their family as well as the legitimate dread of the Gestapo.

Helper networks often formed during the course of attempts to save people. For every person who went underground, there were up to ten, and sometimes many more, non-Jewish supporters who were active. Many attempts to help still failed however. It is estimated today that a total of several tens of thousands of people helped the persecuted Jews in Germany. Even within the occupied territories in Europe, there were individual Germans who used their positions as soldiers or their status in the wartime economy, in order to support Jews who were in mortal danger. In the face of the mass murder of European Jews, saving those persecuted was a part of the resistance to the National Socialist dictatorship.

There are people all over Europe who opposed the National Socialist genocide by helping the persecuted. After 1945, most of them remained silent about the help they had provided; many of them considered it to have been the natural thing to do. It wasn’t until later that their actions were valued. The Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem has honoured more than 22,000 women and men for their help in saving people as being “Righteous among the Nations”.

The Silent Heroes Memorial Site in Germany is dedicated to the memory of those individuals who eluded lethal threats and to those who helped them.

Address and Hours of Operation

Gedenkstätte Stille Helden (Silent Heroes Memorial Center)
part of the Stiftung Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand (German Resistance Memorial Center Foundation)
Rosenthaler Straße 39
10178 Berlin

The institution on google maps

Tel.: +49-30-23 45 79 19/29
Fax: +49-30-23 45 79 39
E-mail: kosmala(at)gdw-berlin.de
Or: schieb(at)gdw-berlin.de
Internet: www.gedenkstaette-stille-helden.de/english.html

Opening Hours:
daily from 10-8pm
Closed: December 24th
Free Entry

Public Transport
S-Bahn station Hackescher Markt
U-Bahn station Weinmeisterstraße