While exploring Berlin, I came across this very unique memorial. The "Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe" (also known as the "Holocaust Memorial") is a memorial in Berlin to the approximately six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Designed by architect Peter Eisenman and engineer Buro Happold, it consists of a 19,000 m2 (4.7-acre) site covered with 2,711 concrete slabs or "stelae", arranged in a grid pattern on a sloping field. The stelae are 2.38 m (7 ft 10 in) long, 0.95 m (3 ft 1 in) wide, and vary in height from 0.2 to 4.8 m (7.9 in to 15 ft 9.0 in).
The "stelae" are organized in rows, 54 of them going north–south, and 87 heading east–west at right angles but set slightly askew.
Building of the memorial began on April 1, 2003, and was finished on December 15, 2004. It was inaugurated on May 10, 2005, sixty years after the end of World War II, and opened to the public two days later. It is located one block south of the Brandenburg Gate, in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood. The cost of construction was approximately €25 million.
Interpretation of the memorial is varied. According to Eisenman's project text, the "stelae" are designed to produce an uneasy, confusing atmosphere, and the whole sculpture aims to represent a supposedly ordered system that has lost touch with human reason; However, a 2005 copy of the Foundation for the Memorial's official English tourist pamphlet states that the design represents a radical approach to the traditional concept of a memorial, partly because Eisenman did not use any symbolism. Observers have noted the memorial's resemblance to a cemetery.
The field of "stelae" is accessible 24 hours a day and can be entered anywhere around the memorial. Visitors are encouraged to sit (even lay) down upon the "stelae" to rest and reflect upon the past; However, visitors are discouraged from standing on the "stelae". Security is always present to ensure no acts of vandalism or other improper behavior occurs.
There is an information center which is located at the memorial's eastern edge. Unfortunately the information center was closed when I was visiting the memorial. Hours for the information center are Apr-Sept: Tue-Sun, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (last admission 7.15 p.m.); Oct-Mar: Tue-Sun, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (last admission 6.15 p.m.); Closing days Dec. 24 to 26, Dec. 31 from 4 p.m. The Information Centre is open on all the other holidays including Easter Monday, Pentecost Monday and May 1.
The information center contains the following: a timeline that lays out the history of the Final Solution, from when the National Socialists took power in 1933 through the murder of 500,000 Soviet Jews in 1941. The rest of the exhibition is divided into four rooms dedicated to personal aspects of the tragedy, e.g. the individual families or the letters thrown from the trains that transported them to the death camps.
The Room of Families focuses on the fates of 15 specific Jewish families. In the Room of Names, names of all known Jewish Holocaust victims obtained from the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel are read out loud. Each chamber contains visual reminders of the stelae above: rectangular benches, horizontal floor markers and vertical illuminations. Nearly half a million visitors come to this Information Center each year.