Berlin was the capital of Germany and the second largest city in Europe during the Nazi era. It was home to more Jews than any other German city—approximately 160,000 in 1933, around half of whom had emigrated by 1939. The Jewish community of Berlin was particularly hard hit by the Kristallnacht pogrom of November 1938, which led to increased immigration. Of the approximately 75,000 Jews in Berlin at the beginning of the war, 55,000 were deported to killing sites in Eastern Europe. Though much of the planning and implementation of the Holocaust was decentralized, Berlin—administrative and political headquarters of the Nazi regime—was the center of what Raul Hilberg has labeled the “bureaucracy of annihilation”.
In Berlin there are WWII sites and Holocaust memorials at every turn, from the massive Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe—comprised of more than 2700 hundred concrete boxes or stelae of various sizes, covering nearly 5 acres of cityscape just a few blocks from the Brandenburg Gate—to the more than 3000 hand-sized Stolpersteine (Stumble stones) memorializing individual Jews by name embedded in sidewalks throughout the city.