Feature

Germany: Why Berlin attracts so many Israelis

“The city in which the annihilation of the Jews” was devised has now become the most popular European destination for Israeli vacationers, said Thorsten Schmitz in Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Thorsten SchmitzSüddeutsche Zeitung

Israelis are having a love affair with Berlin, said Thorsten Schmitz. “The city in which the annihilation of the Jews” was devised has now become the most popular European destination for Israeli vacationers. Over the past decade, the number of Israelis staying in Berlin hotels has quintupled. Where once there were only a few nonstop flights from Tel Aviv to Berlin, today there are three daily. And it’s not just tourists—the number of Israeli university students in Berlin has doubled since 2000. The real estate sections of Israeli newspapers are packed with ads for properties in Berlin, and many Israelis are buying second homes there.

Israelis “no longer associate Berlin with annihilation and expulsion,” but rather with “fun” and a “hip nightlife.” That’s not to say there isn’t some ambivalence. Israeli visitors admit that it seems incongruous to schedule a shopping spree at the Birkenstock outlet on the same day that they visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. But they know that today’s Germany is not their grandparents’ Germany. “To live in Berlin, where no Jew would ever live again if the Nazis had had their way, is a triumph in itself.”

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