Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin Overview

Berlin’s most popular monument Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is dedicated to the Jewish victims who lost their lives here. It is located at a close proximity to another popular tourist spots of Brandenburg Gate and Potsdamer Platz. The historic site is absolutely free to visit at certain days of the week

Germany has a huge history in World War II with monuments present across the country depicting one story or another. Now with many popular historical tourist spots frequently visited by tourists from all over the world, Germany holds great records in tourism. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe one such monument was completed on December 15, 2004, also called as Holocaust Memorial. Located at the centre of Berlin’s Central Government district and a stone’s throw away from Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial is in remembrance of the Jews killed. Around 6 million European Jews were killed in genocide by Nazi Germany along with its few collaborators during World War II.

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History of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

In 1988 journalist Lea Rosh proposed the idea of the Memorial as a piece of evidence for the event occurred in the past.

In January 1989 with support from Willy Brandt and Gunter Grass, both prominent figures, Lea Rosh publishes the initiative.

In 1991 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a location for the Memorial is proposed

In April 1992 Federal Government under Chancellor Helmut Kohl declares the Memorial to be prepared on the grounds of the former Ministerial Gardens.

November 1997- The commission approves to the design projected by Peter Eisenman and Gesine Weinmiller.

February 1998- A further revision of Eisenman’s design has been suggested after considering it as a favourite by the Chancellor.

January 2000: The construction of the symbolic Memorial has started on the site

March 2003: After going through ups and downs, the construction work catches up the pace for both the Memorial and Information centre.

Novemeber2003: Consideration of using Degussa products for securing the site against physical damage

May 2005: On 12th May both the Memorial and Information Centre is open to public

February 2006: The Memorial’s first prize after open to public given to Peter Eisenman  as the Best Cultural space in New York

May 2006: On the first anniversary about 3.5 million people and nearly 1million visited the Memorial and Centre since its public opening

May 2010: On the fifth anniversary, Peter Eisenman himself visits Berlin for the celebration.

Design of the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

Impressively designed with 2711 concrete slabs or stelae that are placed on a sloping area of 19000 square meters. Each slab varying 8 to 15 feet height wise the Memorials to the Murdered Jews of Europe creates a puzzle like structure and visitors can easily get lost while strolling here. Designed by the main American architect Peter Eisenman, the grey slabs are arranged in a descending manner creating an illusion of disorientation for the tourists. Accessible from any side of the roads, the spatial design of the area has been viewed in comparison to coffins. The cobblestone pathways between the slabs are part of the architecture creating a labyrinth altogether.

Things Not to do at the Memorial

Conduct is expected by the tourists visiting the Memorial as this place is less of leisure and more for a remembrance. Since lives of Jews were killed a peaceful atmosphere maintained here has a calming effect altogether. Though the title of the Monument is vague, it still doesn’t clear facts about the assassins who took the lives of so many humans. Here are a few of the things that every visitor should abide by:

  • Vandalism is strictly prohibited like carving, painting, graffiti or any type of physical damage. The slabs here are believed to be repellent of Graffiti
  • Jumping or walking on the slabs as a form of entertainment is disrespectful
  • Simply walking and exploring the pathways and observing the site is encouraged here

Visitor’s Information Centre at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

With both critics and praises attained since the formation of the Memorial there always has been a curiosity in the public. Everyone’s perspective of the Memorial differs as per the observation they build up about a place or an attraction especially with less information available on the site. To overcome this issue at the Memorial architect Eisenman created a Visitor’s centre to provide the required information. This includes facts, inscriptions and important details for a better understanding of the tourist.

The centre of 800 square metres presents enough data of the happenings in the past that is divided into four rooms.  They are Room of Sites, Room of Dimensions, Room of Families and Room of the names. –

  • Room of sites includes the photographs, dairies and farewell letters.
  • Rooms of Dimensions have a running band of the Jewish victims around the European states. The data was collected based on the documents of the criminals belonging to the states. Also, texts of some of the distressed children and women before death, intending to pass on to their relatives.
  • Rooms of Families: With taking examples of 15 Jewish families this room manifest their contrasting lives before, during and after the persecution (Holocaust).
  • Rooms of Names: Here you can read biographies of Jews who were either murdered or went missing. Only the names with the most valid information available are visible on the walls considering the current knowledge base.

Other Memorials in Germany

Memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism: Streets expressing homosexuality like the East Side Gallery is an open gallery of art, which was once a Berlin Wall. With a whole 1.3 kilometres wall of history and art contributed by artists from more than 21 countries.

Memorial to Sinti and Roma Victims: This one honour victims murdered in Porajmos numbered to be around 20000 to 500000 people.

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