The flooring beneath me snakes up and down like an unpredictable wave. Large pillars of various heights impede my sense of direction and order. I dart behind one block and suddenly I have disappeared. Feelings of disorientation, fear and confusion are all appropriate for I’m exploring one of Berlin’s many memorials, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
While my trip to Berlin was a quick one, these memorials and monuments easily moved me. Any visitor to Berlin will find the time they allotted for Germany’s capital is never enough, including when it comes to seeing all of the memorials this city contains. If you are heading to Berlin on a quick trip, make it your priority to be moved by these three memorials and monuments.
The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe
Located in Berlin’s Tiergarten district, in between Postdamer Platz and the Brandenburg Gate, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is one of the city’s most disorienting yet gripping memorials. Officially opened in May 2005, the memorial carried out the design of Peter Eisenman. It features 2,711 concrete pillars at various heights along a wave-like flooring. Visitors can travel through this up and down memorial, darting behind pillars and disappearing.
The Berlin Wall Memorial
On the night of August 12, 1961, the infamous Berlin Wall would come up, dividing East and West Berlin. This division wouldn’t fall until November 9, 1989, marking the end of the dictatorship. Today, you can see the last piece of the Berlin Wall with preserved grounds behind it at the Berlin Wall Memorial. The Memorial is located in the middle of the capital right on Bernauer Strasse. The open-air exhibit on the former border strip provides visitors with an understanding of Germany’s great division, one that would take the lives of 209 people trying to cross over.
Bebelplatz Booking Burning Monument
On May 10, 1933, an organized book burning by the Nazis took place in Bebelplatz, ironically one of Berlin’s most beautiful squares. Around 20,000 important works of world literature were thrown into the flames, those that didn’t line up with Nazi ideology. While you might not notice a monument when looking at the square, the reminder of the event may be right below your feet. Lurking in the middle of the square is the monument by MichaUllmann. It commemorates the incident with a library embedded in the ground featuring hauntingly empty bookshelves. Nearby a quote from Henrich Heine from 1820 reads, “Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people.” At night, the tiny window into the underground library lights up, creating a lasting impression.
Photo: BBM Explorer
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