LivingTravelThe Holocaust memorial in Berlin

The Holocaust memorial in Berlin

The Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europepas (Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe) is one of the most evocative and controversial monuments of the Holocaust. Located in central Berlin, between Potsdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, this impressive site sits on 4.7 acres. Every step of its development has been controversial, not unusual for Berlin, but it is a vital stop on a Berlin tour.

The architect of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin.

American architect Peter Eisenmann won the project in 1997 after a series of contests and disagreements over what was an appropriate design for such an important monument. Eisenmann has said:

The magnitude and magnitude of the horror of the Holocaust is such that any attempt to represent it by traditional means is inevitably inadequate… Our commemorative attempts to present a new idea of memory as opposed to nostalgia… We can only know the past today through a manifestation in the present.

The design of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

The centerpiece of the Holocaust memorial is the “Field of Stelae,” a literal field of dramatic 2,711 geometrically arranged concrete pillars. You can enter at any point and walk across the unevenly sloping terrain, occasionally losing sight of your companions and the rest of Berlin. The solemn columns, all different in size, evoke a disorienting sensation that you can only experience when you make your way through this gray concrete forest. The design is intended to generate illicit feelings of isolation and loss, which is appropriate for a Holocaust memorial.

Among the most controversial decisions was the option of applying a graffiti resistant coating. Eisenman was against it, but there was valid concern that neo-Nazis would spoil the monument. However, that is not where the story ends. The Degussa company responsible for creating the cover had been involved in the National Socialist persecution of the Jews and, worse, its subsidiary, Degesch, produced Zyklon B (the gas used in gas chambers).

Conduct at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

Recently, there has been more criticism surrounding the monument, this time regarding the behavior of the visitors. This is a place of remembrance and although people are encouraged to explore every inch of the site, the guards advise against standing on the stones, running, or partying in general. There has even been a parody project by Jewish artist Shahak Shapira called Yolocaust that puts disrespectful visitors to shame.

Museum at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

To address complaints that the monument was not personal enough and needed to include stories of the 6 million affected Jews, an information center was added below the monument. Find the entrance at the eastern border and descend below the field of pillars (and prepare for the safety of metal detectors with lockers for your belongings).

The museum offers an exhibition on Nazi terror in Europe with multiple rooms covering different aspects of history. It contains all the names of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, obtained from Yad Vashem, projected on the walls of a room while a short biography is read on the loudspeakers. All names and history can also be searched in a database at the end of the exhibition.

All texts in the exhibition center are in English and German.

Visitor information for the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin

  • Address: Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, 10117 Berlin
  • How to get to the Holocaust Memorial: underground stop: “Potsdamer Platz” (line U2, S1, S 2, S25).
  • Admission: Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
  • Guided tours: free tours on Saturdays at 3pm (English) and Sundays at 3pm (German); Duration of 1.5 hours.

Other Holocaust memorials in Berlin

When the monument was erected, there was controversy that it only covered Jewish victims, as many people were affected by the Holocaust. Other memorials have been created to commemorate his loss:

  • Monument to Homosexuals Persecuted Under Nazism – Just across the street, the structure reflects the design of the larger monument with a focus on the many homosexual victims.
  • Monument to the Sinti and Roma Victims of National Socialism – The new Holocaust memorial pays tribute to the 20,000 to 500,000 people killed in Porajmos.
  • Stolpersteine : Subtle plates of gold dot the sidewalks where people were forced from their homes and sent to concentration camps. The “stumbling blocks” are an inclusive memorial for all victims of the Nazi regime.
  • Hitler’s Bunker – The nearby site of Hitler’s last days is more of a deliberate non-memorial. There is a simple information panel that points out the story.

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