Sunday, June 19, 2016

Berlin Holocaust Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe

Berlin Holocaust Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe consists of a Field of Stelae. A three dimensional installation consisting of 19,000 meters of 2,711 concrete slabs in different heights through which a network of paths cross.
Berlin Holocaust Memorial for the Murdered Jews of Europe

When I found myself flying to Berlin on the Holocaust Memorial Day, I had mixed emotions. As a Jew, this country has such difficult history. On the other hand, coming there as tourists symbols survival and victory of life. I took advantage of the occasion to visit the Holocaust Memorial that was on my wish list for quite a while.

The Berlin Holocaust Memorial was inaugurated on May 10, 2005 for the memory of the murdered Jews of Europe. The Memorial is located between Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. Considering its scale, it cannot be missed or ignored. It spans over 19,000 square meters, and is comprised of 2,711 slabs of 2.38X0.95 meters with varying heights between 20 centimeters to 4.80 meters on uneven ground.  On first sight, the lower sized slabs reminded me gravestones in graveyards, but the highest slabs don’t give this feeling. It is more like a maze of slabs with some of are almost 5 meters high.

The Berlin Holocaust Memorial was designed by Peter Eisenman, a Jewish-American architect, whose design won the site’s design competition. There is no written information about the purpose of the slabs and their organization, what I could find when searching for information is based on the text that Eisenman wrote when he submitted the proposal – it’s purpose is to form a sensation discomfort and confusion among the visitors, to emphasize the contrast between the organized system that lost human reason.

The Memorial is integrated into the city of Berlin. If you walk down Ebertstraße between Brandenburg Gate and Postdamer Platz you’ll see it ‘touching’ the pavement. Pedestrians and tourists sit on the slabs, resting from their walks and get impressed from the Memorial. Children (and adults) are walking and running around the slabs investigating different angles of it.

The memorial is open to the streets and is not fenced. Entrance is free anytime.
Entrance is by foot and there are 13 accessible paths.
Under the memorial there’s a museum including an exhibition, the (known) names of the victims, and an information center.

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