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Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

 

The Monument to the Murdered Jews of Europe is a field of 2,700 concrete slabs near the Brandenburg Gate.

 

US architect Peter Eisenman, whose design divided opinion and was finally approved only in 1999 (& opened in May 2005), said he hoped that Berliners and visitors to the city will navigate the pathways as part of their daily lives.

 

"I like to think that people will use it for short cuts, as an everyday experience, not as a holy place," he said. Standing on a 19,000 sq m (204,440 sq foot) patch of land sandwiched between the East and West Berlin of the Cold War, the new memorial is an undulating labyrinth of concrete plinths. Visitors can move through the tilting featureless stones - each one a unique shape and size - from any direction.

 

There are no plaques, inscriptions or symbols along the way.

 

The stones have been treated with an anti-graffiti agent that authorities hope will ward off vandals and neo-Nazi sympathisers. Even the anti-graffiti agent provoked controversy: initially the architect felt graffiti could benefit the memorial; later it emerged that the company supplying the agent once manufactured poison gas for use in Nazi death camps.

 

Disagreements over design and tone also dogged the project. Some said the design was too abstract, while others pointed out that many thousands of non-Jews perished in the Holocaust, but are excluded from mention in the memorial.

 

Others still said the monument's lack of obvious religious symbolism meant that it was not Jewish enough.

 

As a compromise, a visitors' centre has been constructed underneath the stones, offering information and context on the Nazi campaign against the Jews.

 

German journalist Lea Rosh, who first proposed the memorial in 1988, said it was essential that the country that tried to exterminate an entire people build a fitting memorial.

 

"It will be a reminder for the country of the aggressors," she said.

  

Personally, it chilled my soul. I'll never forget though.

    

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Taken on April 18, 2008