Cultural and intellectual life in the city of Berlin has always been shaped by people who immigrated, newcomers arriving from the outside. For centuries, the only way to gain access to the city was via the city gates. There, travellers encountered the royal gate scribes, who not only collected taxes and duties, but also recorded the identities of the newcomers. They decided who could enter the town – and at the same time, they admitted people who would have a lasting and transformative influence on the city’s society.
One of them was Moses Mendelssohn, who came to Berlin at the age of 14 in 1743. At the Rosenthal Gate, the only gate which Jews could use in the north of the city, he managed to enter the city with some effort. He would leave his mark on an entire epoch of Berlin’s social life and Jewish-German history.
The fellowship “Torschreiber am Pariser Platz“ (Gate Scribe at Pariser Platz) has been initiated by the two foundations headquartered on Pariser Platz, tying in with this memory and commemorating the permanent transformation of urban society through new biographies and stories. With a change of accent: while the function of the gate scribe in former times was exclusionary – he decided who gained access and who didn’t – today it is an invitation. The city opens up, becoming a place of refuge for writers.