Memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe

View of Memorial Site, taken in 2006

Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

Same view in June 2002 when construction began

A few of the stones and columns for the Jewish Memorial in Berlin had already been set into place by June 2002, as shown in the photo above, which is the view looking east toward Wilhelmstrasse where Nazi buildings were formerly located.

The original design for the project, created by American architect Peter Eisenman and American sculptor Richard Serra, was more grandiose. Serra withdrew from the project when the plan was scaled down. As part of the compromise on the design, the architect agreed to add an underground "documentation center."

Only a few Germans, such as Martin Hohmann, a conservative member of the German parliament, voiced objections to a huge Holocaust memorial in the heart of Berlin, the nation's capital. Hohmann objected to Germany being forever known as a nation of perpetrators of crimes against the Jews.

Granite stones at construction site of the Memorial, June 2002

A total of 2,711 stones was used to commemorate the deaths of the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. The size of the Memorial for the murdered Jews is approximately the same size as the prison enclosure of the Dachau concentration camp, which was opened on May 22, 1933 with 200 Communist inmates, including a few Jews.

In 1999, the German parliament voted 325 to 218, with 8 members abstaining, to dedicate the Berlin memorial only to the Jews who lost their lives during the twelve-year Nazi regime. The 5 million other victims of the Nazis such as the Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Communists, Social Democrats, anti-Fascist resistance fighters and partisans, the work-shy, German criminals, the disabled, and the anti-socials were not included. However, plans have been made for future memorials in the heart of Berlin for the Roma and Sinti (Gypsies) and the homosexuals that were murdered by the Nazis.

View of completed Memorial site, 2006

Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris

The city of Berlin is located on completely flat land and the River Spree runs through it. Construction sites must pump water out through pipes which could be seen all over the city in June 2002. The pipes in the photograph below form an arch through which one can see the construction site of the Jewish Memorial in the distance.

Pink pipes drain water from Jewish Memorial construction site

Height of stones varies as path dips down

Photo Credit: Bonnie M. Harris