The Holocaust Memorial

The very first evening the first place we visited was the Holocaust Memorial, the monument in the centre of Berlin for remembrance of the 6 million Jews of central Europe murdered by the Nazis.

It was designed by architect Peter Eisenman, and consists of 2,711 concrete slabs of varying heights, one for each page of the Talmud. It is built on the site of a former SS barracks. The other victims of the holocaust are commemorated in statues at the 4 corners of the memorial.  As you walk between these slabs and sink down into the cntre of the memorial they feel like giant tombs rising over head.  I found it a very moving, bleak and sombre monument.  Its’ construction was not without controversy, the firm contracted to build the memorial and supply anti graffiti paint was found to have supplied the Nazis with Zyklon B, the poison gas used in the gas chambers, but politicians at the time decided there were few German companies that did not have any connection with the National Socialist Government, and so after a temporary suspension decided to continue with the original company.  The anti graffiti paint cannot be very good as within the first year 5 swastikas were found painted on the memorial.

Actually, the place I found almost more moving was the Jewish Cemetery less than five minutes walk from our hotel.  A place full of huge family tombs and memorials with dates going way back but with absolutely none after the early 1930’s,  indicating just how well established and large was the Jewish community.

The run down vandalised overgrown present state of the cemetery is a testament as to how an entire community was eliminated; who is there left to take care of it?


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