I will be the gladdest thing under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.
~Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Afternoon on a Hill"

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, in Berlin

This memorial bothered me more than any other place that I saw in Berlin. Of course, I had only read about the Holocaust in books like The Diary of a young girl by Anne Frank and A Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. This was a very long time ago. Last month I read some online articles before I left for our trip, to inform me of Germany's history and understand the philosophy of the German people.
I also started reading a book that my mother always had in her library called Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.I haven't finished this book,yet, but I'm sure it will inspire me to find meaning in what I saw here.
A few days ago I read a blog post that didn't find this a very "impressive" memorial and complained that there were no names on the concrete slabs.
My sister and I had decided to walk to the Brandenburg gate from our hotel. It was in the late afternoon of our second day in Berlin. We passed a whole block filled with concrete slabs just as it was getting dark. The lights of the surrounding town were just coming on and the darkness was settling into this memorial like a shroud.  It was very cold.
This was the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
The slabs vary from 8 inches to 15 ft. 9 inches. Each is different. Some are crooked. All are stained with a blackness from, I think, the weather. There is no mention of this stain being part of the design. All paths lead down into the darkness of its center.
Looking down into the cobblestone walks was eerie and because it was getting so dark, we decided not to walk through it. It was enough to stand and look into the downward paths of each walkway.
If you stand anywhere on the sidewalks around this memorial you feel the depth of sadness and horror that it represents.There was a similar feeling yesterday when I heard about the shootings in Connecticut.
This was, and is, a very controversial memorial and seems to be criticized most by the Jewish community. Still, it produces this amazing combination of  sadness, evil and ghostly remembrances that represent, as the architect Peter Eisenman said "...  a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason."

It is interesting to note that the fastest growing population in Germany today is the Jewish immigrant. Go to this link to learn more about the Memorial.

" We have come to know Man as he really is. After all, man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those gas chambers upright, with the Lord's Prayer or the Shema Yisrael on his lips." ~Viktor E. Frankl~

5 comments:

Brian Miller said...

wow this had to be powerful and moving....the holocaust museum in DC floored me...this reminds me a bit of the oklahoma city memorial...it has chairs for those killed in the bombing...

Madeline's Album said...

A very moving post. This is a very unusual memorial but very meaningful. Have a blessed day. Madeline

Kerry O'Gorman said...

You have described it very well. I can sense the collossal greif here.
No matter what, people need to be reminded again and again of these parts of history. I'd never heard of this one before. I like the quote at the end of your post very much, reminding us of the struggle between good and evil in every human being.

Roslyn said...

Berlin is an interesting city, last time we were there "The Wall" was still up & there were guards in the towers, barbed wire everywhere in E. Berlin and all the buildings facing the wall were boarded up & abandoned. There was a museum at The Wall with the current history of all the ways people had tried to escape from E.Germany, The Wall was covered in crosses and other memorials to those who died in the effort to escape. We could see into E.Berlin from our hotel window.
We visited Auswich and Dachau with our sons, I think I had nightmares for weeks after. I will NEVER forget the horror of seeing it all and now we have a new horror, the senseless slaughter of more innocents last week.
God have mercy.

Chicken Wrangler said...

Thought provoking post...and wondrous photos.