The Holocaust Memorial
The simplistic nature of the name conveys no extent of its importance, for “Place of information” does nothing to outline how the underground of this striking memorial holds the names of 3 million victims of the Holocaust. Above this underground lies a vast expanse of concrete in the heart of Berlin, a sight which ensures that the Jewish Holocaust Memorial is an obscure experience, disorientating and then strangely quiet. In fact, both the appearance and atmospheric nature of the memorial has a distinct resemblance to a cemetery – grey, quiet and haunting.
On the eastern side of the memorial, an information centre outlines a timeline of events for the Holocaust along with an emotional series of personal memorabilia including harrowing “last accounts” from victims who managed to leave letters behind before they were taken to the extermination camps. Much of the information and memorabilia in the information center was donated by the Israeli museum Yad Vashem, but the main focus and most notable feature of the memorial for most visitors is often the striking and truly bizarre appearance of the site design.
Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and an engineer, Buro Happold, the memorial consists of several thousand concrete slabs that sprawl across an urban landscape at varying degrees of height which allow for a sloping or uneven pattern across the field. With more than half of these slabs pointing in an alternative direction to the rest, it is said that the desired effect of the memorial was to confuse the visitor in an attempt to represent the unexplainable events during one of the darkest periods of history for humankind.
Located near the infamous Brandenburg Gate, the Jewish Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is an unforgettable experience and a stark reminder of events that the world can only endeavor to learn from, despite being unable to understand.