Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Cora-Berliner-Straße 1, Berlin
On the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the occasion in 1938 when Nazi storm-troopers rampaged through Berlin, attacking and destroying homes and businesses owned by Berlin’s Jewish population – I’m sharing an image of the Holocaust memorial subsequently erected in Berlin in 2004, and dedicated in May 2005 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of V-E Day and defeat of Nazism.
The memorial covers 19,000 square metres (or 4.7 acres) and comprises 2,711 identical rectangular concrete blocks, or stelae. The blocks are are 2.38 metres long, and 0.95 metres wide (7ft 10in by 3 ft 1 in) and are in various heights between 0.2 and 4.7 metres tall (7ft 9in to 15 ft 5in). The ground upon which it was placed undulates so the relative heights of the blocks is uncertain and unsettling The monument was designed by artist Richard Serra and architect Peter Eisenman. An information centre has been created beneath the memorial which describes the history of the nazi’s so-called final solution.
Kristallnacht was an event on a scale that is hard to imagine today. Over 1,400 synagogues, prayer rooms and cemeteries were attacked, plus 7,000 Jewish shops and 29 department stores. More than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps.
Closer to home, if you haven’t been to The Imperial War Museum recently then you may have missed the Weeping Window art installation to commemorate the end of the First World War. It was conceived by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper who also produced the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red display at the Tower of London in 2014 to remember the outbreak of the First World War. The display uses the same form of ceramic poppies. There’s also an evocative Holocaust exhibition at the museum which, in passing, reveals the perverse priorities of the Nazi war machine. Right up to the brink of their military defeat, the railways were used transport Jewish families to the camps rather than maintain the supply of munitions to the battle front.