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Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

20 April 2010 One Comment

View of the Holocaust Memorial

The Holocaust Memorial

Close to the Brandenburg Gate in downtown Berlin, lies one of Berlin’s most controversial monuments. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe (its German name is Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas) was erected in downtown Berlin in 2004. Designed by architect Peter Eisenman, the memorial consisted of 2,711 concrete blocks, which are laid out in an open plaza. The random sizing of the blocks, as well as the undulating design of the ground surface around them are intended to create a sense of confusion and disorientation, reflecting what the holocaust victims must have experienced throughout their ordeal.

This monument, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, is popular with tourists for several reasons. First, this monument adds to Berlin’s already impressive collection of World War II related monuments and edifices. Personally speaking, walking through downtown Berlin, and seeing the various monuments is an emotional journey, so this memorial in a way completes the overall experience. The Holocaust itself is a terrible event worth remembering for many generations to come. Second, the location is strategic, only a stone’s throw from other popular tourist spots, such as the ever popular Brandenburg Gate. Third, it is cleverly designed, an impressive arrangement of simple blocks. Last but not least, this landmark seem to attract endless controversies.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

The Holocaust Memorial was constructed with a budget of approximately €25 millions. Many question the wisdom in spending that much on a monument, as well as the choice of location (the vast 19,000 square meter space in downtown Berlin could potentially serve other purpose). Next, Berliners realized that the rampant grafitti culture in Europe is problematic enough as it is, and they certainly do not need additional 2,711 concrete canvases in the city. So they got a local firm to produce an anti-graffiti chemical coating to be applied onto the concrete blocks, no problem. Everything seems to be well until one day someone realized that the makers of this substance are the same people who produced chemicals used to gas Holocaust victims during World War II. What luck!

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One Comment »

  • The Berlin Wall | indahs: travel story & photography said:

    […] on an open plaza. The memorial has raised many critics and controversies. One of them as I read from TravCult, that the blocks were protected by anti-graffiti chemical coating until a newspaper in Switzerland […]

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