Holocaust Memorial

I’ve gotten quite behind on my blogging, so I’ll be publishing a rapid succession of posts on events from the bast 2-3 weeks. Here is the first of them, about the Holocaust Memorial.

The official name for Berlin’s Holocaust memorial is “Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas” – or the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman, and consists of 19,000 square meters covered in 2,711 “stelae” – concrete slabs – arranged in a grid pattern over uneven cobblestone ground.  The stelae vary in height from 20 cm to 4.8m. According to Eisenman’s artist abstract, the stelae are supposed to produce an uneasy and confusing atmosphere to represent the apparently ordered system that lost touch with its human reason.

The field of Stelae

A confusing and threatening atmosphere, as intended by architect Peter Eisenman.

The memorial is quite new – it was finished in December 2004, a full 60 years after the end of WWII. The Memorial is located on prime Berlin real estate. It is one block from the Brandenburg Gate – just behind the US Embassy. Securing the site and building the memorial, however, was no easy process. The calls for a memorial first gathered power in 1989, when the famous German journalist Lea Rosh created a group to promote and raise funds for the project. Eventually, the Bundestag decided to sanction the memorial project.

In 1994 the Bundestag announced the first design competition for the memorial.  The initial winning designs were unpopular, leading to a second competition in 1997. Peter Eisenman worked with artist Richard Serra on their proposal, but Serra quit the team for personal reasons. In 1999, Eisenman’s design was chosen as the winner and construction began in 2003.

Under the field of stelae is the small museum “Place of Information”. Here, the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims are kept.

The exhibition at the “Place of Information”

The exhibition is small, featuring different rooms – including the Room of families, Room of Persons, Room of Destinations, etc.

The Memorial is still controversial in Berlin. It acknowledges only the Jewish victims of the Holocaust — even though homosexuals, the disabled, gypsies, and political dissidents were also murdered.

Below are some more photos from inside the Place of Information.

An original postcard urging the recipient not to separate from Michel, and to do everything necessary to survive.

 

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