Some more Holocaust related memorials

5 12 2007

The Missing House: A work by Christian Boltanski, from 1990, located on Grosse Hamburger Strasse, across the street from the Jewish School, not very far from the New Synagogue on Oranienburger Strasse. The missing building was destroyed in WW2. Some of its former residents were Jews. Boltanski constructed there “a memorial space dedicated to absence”. The signs on the walls indicate the names, dates of birth and death and profession of the former residents.

The Missing House.

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House of the Wannsee Conference

27 11 2007

The Villa Marlier on Am Großen Wannsee 56-58, the place where the conference dealing with the “Final Solution to the Jewish Problem” was held back on 20 January 1942, is nowadays a memorial and educational center.

Villa Marlier on Am Großen Wannsee

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Communist Era: more memory sites and museums

12 10 2007

In the website of the city of Berlin you can find a lot of very useful information about sites and museums, dedicated to the commemoration of the wall, its victims, and the GDR (German Democratic Republic, as East Germany called itself) period and works.

Among the memorial sites for the victims of the Berlin Wall you can find the Memorial for Günter Litfin, the first person to be shot and killed attempting to flee to West Berlin. The memorial is located on Kieler str. 2, and you can get there by taking the U6 to Reinickendorfer Strasse station, or by bus line 147.

There is also a memorial for Peter Fechter, an East German teenager who was shot at the crossing and left there to bleed to death. The place was marked with a wooden cross, which was replaced in 1999 by a stele created by Karl Biedermann and donated by Axel-Springer-Verlag. The spot where Peter Fechter died is marked on the ground by basalt rock.

Other memorials include the Parliament of Trees against War and Violence, and the White Crosses memorial site. For further information, including a map, look here.

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The Berlin Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe

2 09 2007

This monster of a memorial, which was unveiled in May 2005, is located in a very central place, near the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate. It is based on a design by Peter Eisenman, an American architect. The “Field of Stelea” is made of 2,711 concrete blocks of different heights, structured in a grid pattern. It can be entered anywhere, and the blocks are supposed to form different wave-like patterns as you move through it. I didn’t really notice that. Click on the photo to enlarge.

The Memorial after rain.

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Berlin must-sees: Neue Wache memorial

22 08 2007

The Neue Wache (on Unter den Linden 4) is the first building Karl Friedrich Schinkel built in Berlin, and is considered one of the main works of German Classicism.

Neue Wache Front.

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Berlin must-sees: Bebelplatz

18 08 2007

Bebelplatz (Bebel square) on Unter den Linden was designed by Frederick the Great, who became ruler of Germany in 1740, and was a great patron of the arts. It was first known as “Frederick’s Forum”, and later as “Opernplatz” (Opera square). In 1947 it was named Bebelplatz, after August Bebel, a leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany in the 19th century.

On May 10th, 1933, Bebelplatz was the site of the notorious Nazi book burning event, organized by the minister for propaganda and public enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels. More than 20,000 books written by Jews, Communists and others, including Marx, Freud, the Manns, Kästner and Heine, were burned there in a large pyre.

Since 1995, this event has been commemorated by a monument designed by the Israeli artist Micha Ulmann. The monument is a plastic transparent window set into the ground, through which you can see an empty library. It’s very easy to miss in this pretty large square, so look carefully.

Bebel Platz book burning monument.

Next to the monument there’s a plaque, bearing the words of the poet Heinrich Heine, from his tragedy “Almansor”, written in 1820 – more than 100 years before the book burning event: “where books are burned, in the end people will burn” (“Dort, wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen”).

On September 9, 2006, an organization called “Dropping Knowledge”, which aims to encourage social change through dialogue, held an event named “The Table of Free Voices” in Bebelplatz, a very appropriate location for that, if you ask me. You can read all about it, and much more, in their website.