Ralph Neumann grew up in Berlin as the son of Jewish parents. In early 1943, the then 16 year old Neumann eluded deportation to a concentration camp and went underground. Two weeks before the capitulation of Nazi Germany, he participated in an action of resistance in Berlin against the regime’s morale-boosting slogans.
Ralph Neumann was born in Berlin in 1926 as the youngest child of a Jewish family. In the autumn of 1942 he was deployed as a forced labourer at the Osram lightbulb factory. His family went underground in February 1943 to avoid imminent deportation.
Constantly changing lodgings in Berlin and Brandenburg and the fear of discovery marked this period. In February 1945 he was identified as a Jew during a police control in Berlin and transferred to the Gestapo. He was interrogated and tortured. Before he could be deported, he managed to flee during an air raid in late March 1945. He went underground again. After two weeks he found refuge with the journalist Ruth Andreas-Friedrich in Berlin.
She had built up a network to help people forced to flee, providing them with lodging, ration cards and false papers. The group was called Onkel Emil (Uncle Emil) after their warning cry. To protest against the Nazi appeal for fierce resistance to Soviet soldiers, on the night of 18 April 1945 Uncle Emil painted the word Nein (NO) in large letters on train stations and building façades. Ralph Neumann also participated in this action.
Two weeks later the war was over in Berlin. Ralph Neumann later recalled: We wanted “to shout to the world that we were again free. We hugged and kissed and danced around… Our new-found freedom was emotionally overwhelming; but joy was also mixed with great sadness. The reality of the loss of our mother, brother, and other relatives came to the forefront. The report that millions were killed in the holocaust was devastating news.”
On 16 April 1945, the Soviet forces started to encircle Berlin in a pincer movement. Five days later first Soviet units entered Berlin from the east and fought their way to the city center. On 2 May, two days after Adolf Hitler committed suicide, all remaining German forces in Berlin were ordered to surrender.
The Jewish Museum in Berlin opened its doors in 2001 and serves as a reflection centre on Jewish history and culture. Changing temporary exhibitions depict a broad range of themes, ranging from cultural history to contemporary art installations. The new permanent exhibition, which is currently being remodelled, is expected to open in 2019.
The German Resistance Memorial Center is located in Berlin at the historic site of the attempted coup of July 20, 1944 against Hitler. The museum includes different exhibitions highlighting specific topics about the resistance in Germany. The permanent exhibition ‘Resistance against National Socialism’ was opened in July 2014 to document the social breadth and ideological diversity of the resistance against dictatorship.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe or Holocaust Memorial, in Berlin honours the Jewish victims of the Holocaust during the Second World War. The memorial was designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It was inaugurated on 10 May 2005, sixty years after the end of the war.
The Topography of Terror in Berlin stands on the site of the main organs of Nazi terror between 1933 and 1945, including the Gestapo, the SS leadership, the security services of the SS and the main office of the ‘Reichssicherheitshauptamt’. The main permanent exhibition presents these institutions and the crimes they organised. A second exhibition examines Berlin’s role as the capital of the Third Reich.
The Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin tells the story of 2,000 years of German history. The permanent exhibition comprises around 7,000 historical exponents providing information on people, ideas, events and historical developments in Germany. The main floor area is devoted to the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime, the post-war period and the history of the two German states from 1949 to the reunification in 1990.
The Berliner Unterwelten Association informs the public about Berlin history from an unusual perspective. Before and during the Second World War hundreds of bunkers and air raid shelters were built in the city. In the post-war years most of these installations were destroyed. But traces of the air raid shelters can still be found in Berlin.