The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a memorial not just for Berlin, but for the whole of Germany, and struck me as a very open and honest response by that country to one of the darkest periods in its history. The memorial consists of two parts: the Field of Stelae, and the Information Centre. I will describe the latter in my next tip.
The Field of Stelae covers a large area in the centre of the city, not far from the Brandenburg Gate and the former Berlin Wall. It was designed by Peter Eisenmann and opened in 2005. It consists of 2,711 concrete blocks set on a slope, all of different sizes – no two are alike. They appear to flow and undulate in waves, especially if viewed from a distance (see photo 3 which I took from the top of the Panorama Punkt). There are no plaques, inscriptions, or religious symbols on the blocks.
You can walk between the blocks , and as you do so you discover that many are much taller than they seem to be from the edge of the monument. Soon you find yourself walking between blocks that tower over you. You feel lost in the labyrinth. Now and then your path crosses with that of another. Architect Peter Eisenman has said that he wanted visitors to feel the loss and disorientation that Jews felt during the Holocaust, and that was certainly my sensation – even to wondering if I would easily find my way out.
Some critics have apparently protested that the Memorial is too abstract and does not present historical information about the Nazi campaign against the Jews. But that is not its purpose – the Information Centre beneath does that job, and does it very well. Others though say that the Memorial resembles a vast field of nameless tombstones and captures vividly the horror of the Nazi death camps. It is certainly not a memorial in the traditional sense; no names are carved here, no details recorded. But if the purpose of a memorial is to make you stop and think, this one serves that purpose – and does it with supreme effectiveness.
The most visible and most impactful element of the Holocaust Denkmal is the Field of Stelae, described in my other tip. But that is no ordinary memorial, lacking as it does any inscription, dates, names, facts and figures. Indeed, how could a memorial ever carry all the names that would be needed?
To learn more, you must descend to the Information Centre beneath. Here an incredibly well thought through, well presented and very moving exhibit will leave you in no doubt of the horror of the Holocaust. Its effectiveness comes, in my view, in the way it blends the big picture stories and historical facts with the stories of individuals and families. As the website explains, “A central function of the Information Centre is to back up the abstract form of remembrance inspired by the Memorial with concrete facts and information about the victims.”
The exhibition is staged in a series of rooms. In the first you get the big picture – a chronological overview of National Socialist policy between 1933 and 1945. A line of images and texts deals with the persecution and murder of European Jews during this time, and also touches on that of other groups such as Roma and homosexuals. Two things struck me in particular about this display. Firstly, that the text regularly refers to “Germany”, not “the Nazis” – there is a collective, national, acceptance of responsibility that seems to go beyond what we might reasonably expect. Secondly, although this is a historical overview, it is personalised with references to the individuals seen in the photos, when these are known. Look at my second photo carefully – the text reads “Photographs from an album made as a present for the camp commander” – what a sick present that was.
In the following rooms the displays are much more personal. In the Room of Dimensions, seen in my main photo, brightly lit “windows” in the floor contain diary entries, letters and last notes that were written during the Holocaust. I was so impressed by the conduct of these two young girls and their quiet concentration as they read and whispered over the individual stories told here. In the next room, the Room of Families, various Jewish lifestyles are shown, illustrated by 15 “typical” family stories. We meet a Kosher butcher, a Rabbi, and many others – families whose lives were torn apart by the Holocaust. The aim is “to illustrate in vivid form the contrast between life before, during and after the persecution, the destruction of Jewish culture and the associated loss.” In the Room of Names, which follows, the names and brief biographies of murdered and missing Jews from all over Europe can be heard. – an attempt “to dissolve the incomprehensible abstract number of six million murdered Jews and to release the victims from their anonymity”. We are told that, “The reading of the names and life stories of all the victims in the form presented here would take approximately six years, seven months and 27 days.”
We spent much less time in the remaining rooms, which deal with the geographical locations of concentration camps and other sites of persecution, including a portal giving information on other memorial sites in Germany and abroad, with practical information such as opening times, bus and train connections and organised visits. There is also an extensive database of material relating to the development of the memorial and the debate that surrounded it, which would no doubt be of great interest to scholars.
The Information Centre is open from April to September from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last entrance 7.15 p.m.) and from October to March from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (last entrance 6.15 p.m.). Note that it is closed on Mondays. Admission is free, though you may of course make a donation, and an audio guide is available for €4, in German, English and Dutch. It is not recommended as a place for under 14s to visit, although my experience of watching these two girls shows that this is very much an individual judgement and some younger ones will be able to cope with the horrors presented and approach the exhibits in a spirit of empathetic interest.
The Jewish Holocaust Memorial stands a little way along from the Brandenburg Gate. It's difficult to describe how it feels to walk amongst the abstract dark grey tomb-like stones - which on first sight appear perfectly uniform but soon becomes apparent that each one is very different from the other. There is a stillness among them, the noise of the city seems to be absorbed by the blocks and at times I felt somewhat intimidated, disorientated and lost... which I think was probably intentional.
I certainly won't go into detail here of the atrocities that took place that required a monument of these vast proportions to be built or why it took 60 years before it was erected. As far as I am concerned the past is the past and we.... every one of us... has a responsiblity to ourselves and eachother, to learn from it.
On a practical note, it is possible for wheelchair users to access the memorial. There are small plaques on the outer perimeter explaining what can and cannot be done within it, ie no shouting, climbing or running.. etc
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (German: Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas), also known as the Holocaust Memorial (German: Holocaust-Mahnmal), is a memorial in Berlin to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold. It consists of a 19,000 square meter (4.7 acre) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", one for each page of the Talmud arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field
You should have some time for the memorial. Looking at it from the outside, the first stones are low and you see tourists sitting on them and relax. And you may wonder, why this place is supposed to be a Holocaust Memorial. But when you go inside the stones and they get taller and taller, it also gets a lot quieter . Then the special character of this place is much better to understand. If you have time enough, go and visit the exhibition. Very often there is a long line, but when you go there first thing in the morning, it's a lot better.
There was a lot of controversy about this memorial for Europe’s murdered Jews, located just some steps from Brandenburger Tor, towards Potsdamer Platz, at the corner of Ebert- and Behrenstraße, and opened on 10 May 2005. Some people were just sick of getting another such memorial, as there are plenty in Germany, others thought it is the ugliest memorial they have ever seen, and again others were against such a huge area being occupied by a monument.
So I was rather interested to see it with my own eyes and make up my opinion.
Well, I was rather impressed. I think those 2711 rectangular grey concrete columns of different heights, lined up on a slightly wave-shaped area of 19,000 square metres, reflect perfectly the sombre feeling that lies over this part of history.
You can access the paths between the columns from any point around the site, and wherever you are, it always looks different. While you walk along the tracks and lose the feeling of where exactly you are, your thoughts go back to the past. Looking over the columns from the outside you see the tree-lined horizon, and some attractive buildings of Berlin. The other world, the better world that was so close and even visible but yet out of reach for the Jews in the Third Reich. In that sense the monument is a fabulous place to reflect this tragedy, with its monotony and sadness.
One thing, I think, the American artist and architect Peter Eisenmann had not planned is that some steles would sink and start leaning.
There is a subterranean documentation centre – called Ort der Information (information site) at the side of Cora-Berliner-Straße. We did not visit because it opened at 10am and we were there earlier, and apart from that we have visited enough such documentation centres and concentration camps to be well informed.
Documentation centre open Tue – Sun 10am – 8pm (April – September), and from October to March from 10am to 7pm, entry free.
Guided tours (3 Euro) Sat 11am and 2pm, Sun 11am, 2pm and 4pm.
Berliners may not know how to design fountains properly, but they surely know how to design monuments and memorials. (Or at least they know when they need to ask someone to design it for them - like New York based architect Peter Eisenmann in this case).
The Holocaust Memorial stands south from the Brandenburger gate and it is one of the strongest memorial places I have even seen. In fact, it is not even built to be seen, it is built to be experienced. One you dive among more than 2.700 concrete "Stelaes" that form this monument you find yourself in a claustrophobic network of regular paths where each corner hides something new.
The site is huge, the monument strong and the experience of walking down under literally forces you to think about one of the darkest periods of human history.
When I last visited Berlin in May 2003 the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was just a building site with an observation and information area. It would another 2 years before the monument was complete and open to the public. The monument is unusual with a field of 2,711 different sized concrete stelae, arranged in undulating rows and at slightly different angles. The Memorial is open to the public from all four sides and 24/7. As far as I’m aware the site has no connection with the Holocaust but it has a strange eerie silence with its strange grey stones and long shadows in the late autumn sunlight. There is an underground information and exhibition centre in the south east corner of the memorial. Though you have to wait to be admitted and pass through the security checks the information centre is well worth a visit
The mission of the foundation is the realisation of the resolution passed by the Bundestag on 25 June 1999 to erect and to support the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.The memorial is situated in the centre of Berlin. It is a central place for remembrance and commemoration of the murdered victims.Additional to the field of stelae designed by architect Peter Eisenman, the Memorial is complemented by an underground Information Centre about the victims to commemorate and historic memorial sites.Since 12 May 2005 the field of stelae is open to the public day and night. The Information Centre is open daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (last entrance 7.15 p.m.). Due to the large number of visitors and the requisite security checks it is likely that there will be an extended waiting period at times before entering the exhibition. On principle, the Foundation would recommend visitors to the Information Centre to be at least 14 years of age.The Memorial is dedicated to the Jewish victims of the Nazi reign of terror. It is in a prominent location at the heart of Berlin; its integration into the newly built parliament and government district signifies an official recognition of historical responsibility. Remembrance of the crimes of National Socialism is central to the Federal Republic of Germany's self-understanding.As a result of the process through which it emerged, this Memorial is closely tied to a commitment to democracy and civil courage. Its open form facilitates personal remembrance, commemoration and mourning.
The Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a sprawling field of 2,700 stone slabs near the Brandenburg Gate.
Backers of the memorial say the stones will be central to Berlin's identity, but critics say it is too abstract.
Al lado de la Puerta de Brandemburgo, como un ondulado mar de miles (2711) de columnas de hormigón se despliega el llamado 'Monumento a los Judíos asesinados en Europa'
El arquitecto judío estadounidense Peter Eisenman decidió que los bloques de hormigón se hicieran con un material especial que los protegía de las pintadas , pero se enteró de que la única compañía en el mundo que tenía este material era la que fabricó el gas Zyklon B, usado en las cámaras de gases para el extermino de los judíos.
Estaba a punto de renunciar a su proyecto , cuando comentando esto con su dentista , este le dijo que si dejaba su proyecto porque esa compañía había colaborado con los Nazis tendría que cambiarle y quitarle todos los arreglos que le había hecho en su boca , pues todas las compañías que fabricaban los materiales habían colaborado con ellos también
Next to the Brandenburg Gate, like an undulating sea of thousands (2711) of concrete columns is displayed the called "Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe '
The American Jewish architect Peter Eisenman decided that the concrete blocks were made with a special material that protected them from the graffiti, but learned that the only company in the world to have this material was that which produced the Zyklon B gas, used in the gas chambers for the extermination of the Jews.
He was about to give up his project, when discussing this with his dentist, he was told that if he left his project because the company had collaborated with the Nazis , he would have to change, and remove all the arrangements he had made in his mouth, because all companies that manufactured the materials had collaborated with them also.
The new Holocaust memorial ist only a few steps from Brandenburger Tor. Lots of people were walking around there. It was a strange feeling sometimes, I felt a bit lost. Go there and try yourself.
Unfortunately the information center downstairs was already closed.
This highly unusual memorial consists of 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae" arranged in a grid pattern on a slightly sloping ground occupying an entire city block of 19,000 square meters.
You can enter and walk through the field from all four sides, and experience the wave-like form of the stelae differently from each different position.
After a fair amount of controversy, this unique design by the New York architect Peter Eisenman was approved in 1999, built starting in 2003 and completed in 2005. The Field of Stelae is open to the public day and night.
Eisenman recognizes that his design represents a radical break with the traditional concept of a memorial. In 1998 he explained: "The enormity and scale of the horror of the Holocaust is such that any attempt to represent it by traditional means is inevitably inadequate ... Our memorial attempts to present a new idea of memory as distinct from nostalgia ... We can only know the past today through a manifestation in the present."
In one corner of the site there is also an underground Information Center which is intended "to back up the abstract form of remembrance inspired by the Memorial with concrete facts and information about the victims."
Maybe you know my old tip about the building of Holocaust Memorial (see next tip)? Well, as planned it was opened in May 2005. I was so enthusiastic about this field of stelae that the first thing I did after arriving in Berlin in September 2005 was to come here. I was not disappointed!
The field which consists of 2700 stelae is very impressive even though some people don't treat it right. It's a memorial for the murdered jews in Europe - not a playground, no giant hide and seek and no place for sunbathing. Wander around this place for a while. Make sure to walk to the highest stelae as the memorial is probably the most impressive here. However, I also like the lower areas where you get some very graphic impressions of it.
If you don't know the history of jews in Europe you should visit the museum underneath the field. There's a lot to read here but the museum is well done really (and quite stylishly adopting the stelae theme). Prepare to queue for a while before you can go in. Because of the security screening only 10 people are allowed in at once.
Please remember that climbing and jumping around the stelae is not allowed.
Entrance to both, the field and the museum are free.
Standing on a 19,000 sq m patch of land sandwiched between the East and West Berlin of the Cold War, the new memorial is an undulating labyrinth of concrete plinths. It consists of a site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. Visitors can move through the tilting featureless stones - each one a unique shape and size - from any direction. There are no plaques, inscriptions or symbols along the way.
This is certainly the largest memorial of any kind I have seen. Wandering in its depths as the sun setted, the noise of the city was completely muted and at the end of the rows seemed so far away and unreachable. Only a momentary glimpse of someone passing across a line of sight before vanishing again in silence.
According to designer Peter Eisenman's project text, the stelae are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason.
An attached underground 'Place of Information' holds the names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims.