Saturday, May 06, 2006

Holocaust Memorial


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Originally uploaded by risque.
The memorial opened in Berlin in 2005, and is a tribute to the murdered Jews of Europe. It was designed by Peter Eisenman, and is made up of 2,711 concrete slabs positioned on a sloping hill. Each slab varies in height from 0.2-4.8 metres. There's no relevance attached to the figure 2,711. Eisenman has refused to comment on the artistic meaning of the memorial, leaving the public to come up with their own interpretation.

The first time I saw the memorial, I thought it looked like a bunch of gravestones. However, having walked through it a few times, my thoughts changed. Its meaning grows on you. As I walked along, I looked up, and saw bright blue sky. However, the bright blue sky is abruptly interrupted by sharp concrete edges which make you feel trapped...

The concrete slabs have been chemically treated to be grafitti resistant. Ironically, when the slabs were first being treated, nobody realised that the company treating the slabs, was the same company that supplied the Zyklon B gas to concentration camps during the war. Once the company realised this, they pulled out from the project. It is estimated that six million Jews were killed during the war.

"That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they ultimately burn people"
- Heinrich Heine 1820

In 1933, professors and students burnt 20,000 books at Bebelplatz, infront of Humboldt University. Eerily enough, Heinrich Heine was a 19th century German poet who predicted things to come. His books were amongst the ones destroyed.

This is the statement at the front of the crematarium memorial at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. Sachsenhausen was the model camp that Auschwitz and Dachau were based on.

1 comment:

loongie said...

Strangely, the holocaust memorial is one of my favourites with design and architecture in Europe... so sad and so powerful.