Audio App Questions

How did you come up with the idea to make an audio app?

Some of us really enjoy listening to audio books. But this specific idea came from a tour of the Ku'damm (Kurfürstendamm in Berlin), where there's an audio app on the history of the Ku'damm pogrom of 1931. The opportunity to listen to historical eyewitnesses and a narrative about a particular place, while at the same time moving on foot through that very location and being able to compare the audio stories with what is visible today, seemed like an exciting concept to us. Not to mention the chance to convey history in a somewhat more attractive way.

Who is the intended audience for the audio app?

The audio app is aimed toward all people who are interested in Jewish life in Prenzlauer Berg and in the history of daily life in the 1920s and 1930s in general, toward anyone who wants to learn more about that. Beyond that, we also want to create this audio tour as a offering for educational work for schools and for projects outside of school as well, as a digital-age tool for delving into Jewish local history.

Can people without a smart phone also listen to the content?

It's also possible to to download the audio files to an MP3 player and to explore the stations with our area map.

Does the audio tour have a starting and an end point? Is there a pre-planned route?

There is no set, predetermined route that has to be followed. Mainly, it's a portrait of four people who lived in Prenzlauer Berg at the time. Sometimes their paths cross, at the school on Ryke Straße, for instance. It was important to us that the stations could work without a fixed chronology – so that with each of the protagonist's narratives, the images and stories about Prenzlauer Berg in the 1902s and '30s would progressively intensify throughout the audio tour. The audio tour can start at any given point, and you can also finish it at any given point. The audio files will simply be uploaded to your smartphone by GPS each time you come to a location where there's information about Jewish life in Prenzlauer Berg.

Why did you choose the area around Kollwitz Platz in Prenzlauer Berg?

At that time, many Jews were living all around Kollwitz Platz. We limited ourselves to an area for which we had many stories, so that people interested in the topic wouldn't have to walk their feet off all over Prenzlauer Berg in order to discover something.

Why is there an especially central focus on individual biographies?

The history of Jewish life in Prenzlauer Berg is multifaceted, a fact which has also become clear through many book publications and theme-based tours. Until now, the existing materials and contributions have focused primarily on Jewish institutions. But our objective is to offer an audio tour that traces stories from the lives of different Jewish individuals. We want to tell stories of everyday life.
In the end, what emerges is not only a picture of each person, but also various viewpoints onto the society of the era and on Jewish life in the district. While the biographies are concentrated around the district in the 1920s and 30s, a few more recent perspectives are also portrayed, that clarify historical continuities. The selection of specific audio stations comes from the interesting 'stories' in each individual biography that relate to the corresponding location. To choose the content for the different audio stations, we drew primarily upon already-existing interviews with historical eyewitnesses, from the archive and the book collection at the Museum of Pankow.

Why did you want to tell the stories of these particular people?

We chose those biographies that offered the most description – including descriptions of the surroundings and the cultural and social life of Prenzlauer Berg. Where did which businesses, cinemas, theatres, cafes, schools and so on used to be... With these biographies and their stories, we could make life from that era more tangible.

Why Jewish life?

Until 1933, Jewish life was a self-evident feature of Berlin everyday life. Through National Socialism and the Shoah, the world of that everyday life has become no longer self-evident, nor even existent, for many non-Jewish Germans today. Many Berlin Jews who survived the Shoah decided afterward never to return to Berlin. This means that a significant cultural, religious and social aspect of Berlin was destroyed beyond recall and has been lost. With our audio tour, we want to contribute to making the destroyed world of Jewish daily life in Prenzlauer Berg visible again.

Why do we mostly hear the stories of people who were children at the time?

The stories are based on interviews that were given in the mid-1990s, for the most part. Most of the people still alive at that time were already of retirement age then, but during the 1920s and '30s, they had been either still children or very young adults. It also has something to do with the shifting interests of historical research. During the GDR (German Democratic Republic), research was done primarily on people from the antifascist resistance. Many Jewish adults who lived in Prenzlauer Berg during the 1920s and '30s did not survive the Shoah. These voices and stories are irrevocably lost and silenced, but we know their history through the perspectives of their children.

Why did you choose the time period of the 1920s and 1930s?

To illustrate that there had been a lively and diverse Jewish life before 1933, which is no longer visible today, we put our attention on biographies and narratives that could still tell about that. Through the biographical sources (interviews and publications), in the chronological focus on the 1920s and '30s, we want to develop approaches and perspectives on Jewish life in Prenzlauer Berg that show how the individual stories are interwoven with everyday life of that era.