The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is the official name in English. It’s a beautifully somber sculpture of over 1300 concrete stelae set into an undulating ground of spaced granite pavers set intentionally to make your walking slightly precarious. And as you move further into the two-block square memorial, the ground falls away and the stelae become taller, and you get a sense of being lost and surrounded. The best time to visit is near sunset, when the play of light and shadow is most dramatic. It puts you in the dark below, and you can just see the light above–but just out of reach. A well conceived memorial, and, I think, showing courage on the part of the Germans to acknowledge their history.
Two more views, for a sense of perspective and setting. In a way, I like that it’s both set in a neighborhood of apartment buildings. And it still seems utterly isolated.
The memorial was designed by American architect Peter Eisenman. And it sits on the former site of the garderns of the Reichs Chancellory, the headquarters of Hitler’s government. If you visit, try not to be one of the ones taking the smiling selfies.
Note: We were able to squeeze in this quick trip to Berlin with the help of Eurail. We used our passes in and around Paris, Berlin, and Amsterdam, certainly a pleasant and efficient way of getting around Europe.