Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany

This is also known as The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. It’s a memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust designed by architect Peter Eisenman.

It a 5-acre site covered in 2,711 concrete slabs arranged in a grid pattern. They’re designed to create an uneasy, confusing experience as you walk through it. There are no signs posted around the memorial, allowing visitors to interpret it how they’d like.

The space between each slab is intentionally wide enough for one person to walk through, forcing them to experience it “alone”. As you get to the center of the memorial, the slabs get higher. It is a very eerie experience, a bit emotional and surprising beautiful considering its 2,000 blocks of concrete.

It’s my favorite memorial I’ve seen in Germany. I love how Berlin is so very intentional with its monuments as to not allow people to forget what happened.

We first saw the memorial on our walking tour the first full day we were in the city. Our tour guide explained Peter got the idea from the Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague (which Dan and I saw a few months before.)

In Prague, Jews could only be buried in this particular plot. So the bodies were buried one on top of the other creating a really high and slope-y cemetery (there are 12,000 tombstones visible there, up to 100,000 bodies total.)

Dan and I went back to the Berlin Holocaust Memorial our last day around sundown.

(Another interesting fact about this memorial is that underneath it is a Place of Information where all the names of the known Jewish Holocaust victims. If I remember correctly, there are 6 million names. Our tour guide said that if you read each name aloud it would take you over 7 years. Whew. That puts things in perspective. 

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