When visiting Berlin, one of the most visited sites since its inauguration in 2005 is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Yes, as its name suggests it’s a memorial for the Jews who died during the Second World War. But here are 10 interesting facts about this monument you need to know before visiting this memorial:
1. The Memorial is set in a 19,000 m2 site in the middle of Berlin, it has a total of 2,711 concrete slabs or “stelae” placed in an irregular field.
2. All “stelae” are 2.38 m long and 0.95 m wide, but the height varies from 0.2 meters to 4.8.
3. The memorial was finished in 2005, but it was originally thought of in 1993. After Chancellor Helmut Khol vetoed the winning projects for the site, Peter Eiserman’s project was finally chosen in 1997.
4. The memorial was built by American architect Peter Eisenman who submitted the project next to artist Richard Sierra, who quit the project due to both professional and personal reasons. Dagmar von Wilken designed the Information Center.
5. According to Eisenman, he wanted to create an illusion of instability in an apparent system of order, and how this system is futile in time. Each of the “stelae” has different heights to help create this instability as does the irregular floor. Eisenman says that this memorial cannot remember the horrors of each individual who suffered the Holocaust and has to be understood in a context of time and space, not only space like traditional memorials.
Many say that the memorial reminds them of a cemetery.
6. Graffiti: To avoid the “stelae” being vandalized, the slabs where added a coat of graffiti-repellant. The company who won the bid to do so was Degussa, who owned a subsidiary company named Degesch. This company apparently had previously produced chemicals used by Nazis in concentration camps.
7. Social Media: Another inappropriate gesture was created by a fashion involving people using social media app Grindr. Users of this app used the memorial as a setting for their profile picture (often with very little clothes on). This started a debate on the visitor’s use of the monument.
8. Memorial to whom? Although the monument is officially called “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe”, some critics state that by visiting the monument there is no specific acknowledgement to the Holocaust and that it never states the authors of these crimes. You need to visit the Visitor Center to fully grasp the horrors of the Holocaust.
9.Although Eisenman originally opposed to creating a visitor’s center, Dagmar Von Wilken designed this underground exhibition where we can learn about the horrors of the national-socialism policies, the lives of the deceased Jews in concentration camps and all of the struggles they went through in what most say is a touching experience.
10. The memorial is located between two very symbolic landmarks: The Brandenburg Gate, one of Germany’s most well-known monuments; and the Bunker where Hilter committed suicide.
Hope you found these facts useful. Please comment on any of the facts. For further information go to the memorial’s site.