Smartphones guide visitors at Berlin Jewish cemeteries

BERLIN, June 21 Fri Jun 22, 2012 1:00am IST

BERLIN, June 21 (Reuters) - Visitors to Berlin's Jewish cemeteries can now use their smartphones to make an 'electronic tour' that provides information about people buried there.

The German capital counts three historical Jewish cemeteries dating back to the 17th and the 19th centuries that survived the damage and desecration of the Nazi era. They have undergone large-scale renovation work in recent years.

The smartphone programme leads visitors to the graves of Jewish figures such as philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, hotelier Berthold Kempinski, publishers Rudolf Mosse and Samuel Fischermen and also of those who committed suicide to escape deportation to Nazi death camps.

"There is an Internet code at the entrance of each cemetery which can be scanned by a smartphone and directly connects to the cemeteries' website," the cemeteries' inspector Hilel Goldmann said.

The Internet programme is steered by a GPS navigation device and enables the visitors to plan their own 'tour' choosing among about 160 of the 150,000 graves in the three Berlin cemeteries, Goldmann said.

One of them, the Weissensee Cemetery, located in the eponymous northern neighbourhood of the city, is still in use. It is the largest Jewish cemetery in Europe by area and hopes to join the UNESCO World Heritage list. (Reporting by Elisa Oddone)

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