Memorial and Other Memorials in Berlin
and Ways of remembrance
The "Memorial for the killed Jews of Europe" is being
built only minutes walking distance from the Brandenburg Gate in the
centre of Berlin. The official name of the monument is hardly known,
being generally addressed as "Holocaust Memorial". The discussion
about the memorial continued for more than ten years. The original
idea was initiated in the end of the 1980s by publicist Leah Rosh,
nom de plume of Edith Rohs. The memorial should remember the six
million Jews of Poland, the Soviet Union, Rumania, Czechoslovakia,
Hungary, Germany, France, Netherlands, Yugoslavia, Greece, Belgium,
Austria, Italy, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Denmark and Norway deported
and killed in concentration camps.
The "supporting circle to build a holocaust memorial"
was founded in September 1988. In May 1994 the
group held a competition for designs to the holocaust memorial. 1200
participants sent in their drafts. Two first prizes were given out
in March 1995, one to architect Simon Ungers and
the other to a group of artists around Christine Jackob-Marks. Three
months later the jury agreed on the proposal of Christine
Jackob-Marks. The design showed a 20 000 square meter big and
inclined plane on which the names of all holocaust victims were to
be inscribed. In July 1995 the then chancellor
Helmut Kohl declared the memorial design as unacceptable. The Berlin
Senate postponed a final decision to 1996. 1997 finally 25 artists
are asked to send in new proposals. November 1997 four winners were chosen, among them Peter Eisenman.
The new elected federal government decided
that the national parliament should decide over the memorial. After
a heated debate, the parliament finally decided on 25 of June
1999 on the construction of a holocaust memorial
and upon the design of Peter Eisenman. His design showed a field of
steles, originally made up of 4000 individual steles of different
size and inclination. The design was then reduced to 2700 steles.
A new "site of information" was added to the original design. The
same year a foundation was installed. The construction was started
autumn 2001. In spring of 2004 the memorial should
be completed. The site will occupy an area of more than 20 000
Concentrating on this
central memorial, people forget that there are already a number of
other memorials in Berlin, a city in which 170 000 Jews lived prior
to 1933. These memorials remember the discrimination, persecution,
expulsion, murder of Jews in a number of ways. Certain of these
memorials are public and easily found within the city boundaries,
others are a result of private initiatives and are not easily
detected by a passers-by. Stones, tablets, sculptures,
installations, and many other artistic expressions indicate the
living and working space of expelled and murdered Jewish Berliners,
former synagogues, Jewish institutions, sites of deportation, and
-very rarely- traces of resistance activists.
This development started in the mid 1980s, after a lengthy period of
silence about the extermination of six million European Jews. It
wasn’t until January 2001 that the exposition "Holocaust – Nazi
ethnic cleansing and the motives of it’s remembrance" opened in
Berlin, documenting the deportation and assassination of European
Jews, as well as forms of remembrance since 1945.
The concepts for the memorials are very different
from each other. They originate in different epochs after the
holocaust. A memorial indicates much more about those remembering
than about those remembered. Thus the following thoughts should be
taken into consideration when looking at a memorial:
· Which aspects of remembrance are on the
forefront and which
on the background at what time?
· Which perspective was chosen?
· Which artistic materials were chosen?
· What does the memorial articulate?
· What is not being concealed, veiled, falsified, or covered by
It is evident that when constructing a
memorial, only a partial aspect of the topic is indeed addressed. The
chosen aspect shows what is and what is not discussed in society at a
The chosen aspects are a mirror of the historical view and the myths
developed in the aftermath of the holocaust in German society (e.g. "the
clean Wehrmacht", "nothing could be done", "we didn’t know anything",
"who resisted ended up in a concentration camp himself", etc.).
A selection of varying memorials in
different districts of Berlin will be presented on this page. This
collection will be expanded over the coming months. The illustrations
are, if not otherwise mentioned, taken from Michael Eun’s vast archive.
Important Addresses in Berlin
Kosher in Berlin
Jewish Groups in Berlin
about Jewish Life and History
Jewish Women's Activities
Searching for Your Berlin Roots?
The Jewish Museum of Berlin
Memorials in Berlin