The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe stands in the center of Berlin. It consists of 2,711 concrete blocks of varying heights and widths that cover 19,000 square meters of space in the center of the city. This memorial consumes a large piece of real estate in a part of the city and intersects with many other highly visited places for tourists and locals. People walking by may or may not be familiar with the meaning of this memorial, as it is not labeled from the outside, only at the entrance to the underground museum, or Place of Information. Therefore, unaware passersby could walk by and see this memorial as more of a playground, somewhere to stop and eat lunch or just people watch in Berlin. This poses a potential threat to maintaining the integrity of the memorial.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe makes one feel unsettled and a bit disoriented. The ground dips and suddenly the blocks that make up the memorial tower loom over you. The stark, unfriendly appearance of the memorial overall conveys a sliver of what it may have felt like as a member of a victimized group during the Holocaust, much like the void at the Jewish Museum (which we visited the following day) that looked quite similar. It is also noteworthy that the Place of Information does an effective job of educating visitors on a general timeline of the Holocaust as well as providing the stories of many Holocaust victims from countries throughout Europe.
While this memorial does quite well in making visitors feel uncomfortable as well as educating them on the Holocaust, there is also a lot of criticisms of this memorial. For instance, people stand on the blocks taking pictures–like most of us in this class did–either of the memorial, or selfies with the memorial. There are also many young people in the area who come to this memorial and take pictures to use on various dating apps. All of these different forms of photo-taking elicit various kinds of criticism but definitely all have their own varying degrees of merit. Additionally, the fact that memorial is barely labeled on the outside, only at the entrance to the Place of Information, may prevent random tourists from being able to have a full educational experience simply because they don’t realize that what they’re seeing is even a memorial.
Group 5: Maddie Noyes, Katie Whitlock, Chris St. Aubin, Isabelle Bukary (Author: Maddie Noyes)