It’s unsettling and confronting – but something that everyone should see.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe has marked its 11th year in Berlin, Germany.
Photo by Szczebrzeszynski. Author=[http://www.flickr.com/people/10069045@
Located just south of the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, as it is sometimes called, spreads over 205,000 square feet – about the size of two football fields.
Visitors come face-to-face with 2,711 grey concrete slabs, or stelae, designed to look rather like huge coffins.
The slabs vary in height from about eight inches tall to 15 feet and are arranged in long, straight, narrow alleys.
On entering, you are carried down a maze of slabs that become higher and higher as you walk.
The ground is uneven and other visitors are soon cut off from your view. An eerie claustrophobia sets in and you feel almost alone and lost – giving visitors an idea of the unsettled, isolated and fearful life of Europe’s Jews before and during World War II.
We arrived at the memorial as the sun set over Berlin – and the shadows only heightened the sense of disorientation. and apprehension.
There’s no doubt about it: the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is thought-provoking and pointed.
While many memorials – and Berlin has plenty of them – are cause for reflection, this one deliberately lacks subtlety in its message – something that is exactly in keeping with the enormity of the subject matter.
While in Berlin, we debated the accuracy of one description of the German capital as a “nice place with an awful history”.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe was built as a sign of how the city and its people are effectively and unflinchingly facing up to that past.
The memorial can be visited at anytime – night or day. A subterranean Information Center, located at the base of the memorial, offers stories of families and individuals and provides additional information about the design and construction of the memorial. The Information Center is open from 10 am until 8 pm.